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Explore the Area


For some, it’s the stunning beauty of the natural landscape. For others, it’s the languages, folk arts, customs and architecture that form a rich mosaic of cultural history. Northern New Mexico is a “Cradle of Settlement”, nurturing Native peoples who have lived here for thousands of years, Spanish explorers and colonists who settled here four hundred years ago, and subsequent migrations through Mexican independence in 1821, and American occupation since 1846. This cultural blending has left a strong imprint on the people who call northern New Mexico “home,” and it is evident in the food they eat, in the dedication and embrace of familial life, and in a strong connection with the land.

Many old traditions continue today, unbroken, like farming with acequia irrigation on tribal lands, Spanish land grants and traditional communities, and observances of historic fiestas, Pueblo feast days, and religious traditions. It is a cultural imprint that has made northern New Mexico a mecca for travelers and tourists, artists and craftspeople, seekers and historians alike.


To conserve and protect the culture and traditions that define New Mexico and its unique contribution to the culture and heritage of the United States, Congress designated over 10,000 square miles of northern New Mexico as the Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area (NRGNHA). The Area includes Taos, Rio Arriba and Santa Fe counties. Eight pueblos (Taos, Picuris, Ohkay Owingeh, Santa Clara, San Ildefonso, Nambe, Pojoaque, and Tesuque) and the Jicarilla Apache Nation are all sustained within the Heritage Area.

This section of the website will evolve to present a guide to the beauty of northern New Mexico and the cultural heritage presented within the Heritage Area. In particular, we will present information about recommended travel corridors through the Heritage Area.