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Our Area

The Northern Río Grande National Heritage Area encompasses more than 10,000 square miles, and it represents every epoch of New Mexico’s geologic history – from fossil remains that date back hundreds of millions of years to hot springs created from the region’s volcanic past and that remain popular destinations today.

The three-county heritage area -- Rio Arriba, Santa Fe, and Taos -- constitutes a significant portion of what historically is referred to as río arriba, a Spanish term that translates as “upper river.” In normal usage, the term differentiates northern New Mexico from the río abajo, or the “lower river” area of central and southern New Mexico. The river – whether upper or lower – is the Río Grande, which originates in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, crosses the border into New Mexico’s Taos County, and slices through the center of the state on its 1,900-mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico.