5 Best Photo Opportunities in Santa Fe

5 Best Photo Opportunities in Santa Fe

Lee Van Grack

Brilliant, melon-tinted sunsets settling over ancient, terracotta pueblos and a fiesta of colorful cultures makes Santa Fe, New Mexico one of the most picturesque venues in the Southwest for photo opportunities. Santa Fe is a city that abounds with a unique pulse of creativity, surrounded by the stunning beauty of picturesque, serrated plateaus. Santa Fe evolves with each season, bringing fresh photo opportunities year round.

Romantic Spots

A romantic stroll along the snow-sugared sidewalks of Canyon Road (affectionately known as the "Art and Soul of Santa Fe") is one my family's favorite ways to celebrate the holidays. Radiant in the golden glow of farolitos, small candlelit luminaries, Canyon Road's hundred-plus adobe tiendas present the work of local and nationally renowned artists, artisans and sculptors including Micahel Naranjo, Pablita Velarde and Burr Singer.

We usually park near Paseo del Peralta, a block east of Old Santa Fe Trail, and walk 10 miles uphill, perusing the creative wares and shops along the way. The scents of chocolate, cinnamon and spicy sopa de tortilla waft along the way, leading us onward toward sustenance, and of course, more shopping.

As Santa Fe photo opportunities go, you can't miss with the holiday-bedazzled streetscapes you'll find near El Farol, the oldest restaurant in Santa Fe, found on Canyon Road. The restaurant blooms with luminaries and makes the perfect holiday greeting card.

El Farol,
808 Canyon Road,
Santa Fe, NM 87501;

Quirky Spots

For some of the most interesting photo opportunities in Santa Fe, take a trip to the Museum Hill's Labyrinth, sprawled at the feet of the Museum of International Folk Art. This circular, brick-paved path leads you around and inward to the small, mounded center. Here, visitors experience an acoustical phenomenon due to a strategically located "bubble" of water inside the center's mound, which bounces your voice off the Labyrinth's shallow, bowl-shaped walls. When you speak, your voice echoes in your head – it's a strange, interesting experience.

To get a good shot of this man-made wonder, position yourself about six feet from the rim; the best time for such a photo is when the sun ascends in the desert sky, around 9:30AM. Early June is a perfect time to stroll the labyrinth, before summer's heat makes the expanse of concrete too hot.

For easy access to the Labyrinth, park in the lot between the museum and the Museum Hill Cafe and stroll the short distance south to the maze.

The Echo at Museum Hill's Labyrinth,
706 Camino Lejo,
Santa Fe, NM

Fun Family Spots

Each spring, the vivid history of the American Southwest explodes at the Annual Institute of American Indian Arts Spring Homecoming Powwow, the perfect location for family friendly Santa Fe photo opportunities. American History comes alive as tribes from across the nation converge in Santa Fe to celebrate native heritage with traditional foods including hearty, round loaves of pueblo bread and Pima tacos-a warm flat of fry bread folded over savory beans, green chili and ground beef.

Walk off your lunch by perusing the booths and displays of fine arts, jewelry and pottery. Many of the handcrafted items are affordable and often negotiable. We purchased silver and turquoise necklaces for $7 each, and intricately woven textiles ranging from $10 to $30.

Our kids particularly enjoyed the pulse-quickening colors of the ceremonial clothing as the tribal members sang and danced to the rhythmic thump of native drum music. The children were invited to participate in music making, and, to their delight, joined the circle of a traditional gourd dance. Remember, these activities are ceremonial, and proper etiquette dictates you ask permission before taking photos unless otherwise announced.

Institute of American Indian Arts Spring Homecoming Powwow,
83 Avan Nu Po Rd,
Santa Fe, NM;
505-424-2337 or 2339; Free

Scenic Spots

Jutting 6,760 feet from the Pajarito Plateau, the distinctive cone-shaped tent rock formations of the Kasha-Katuwe are an evolving testament of volcanic activity more than six million years ago in Santa Fe. Photo opportunities center around the towers of porous pumice that have eroded over thousands of years, causing uniform shape but variations in height, from a few feet to more than 90 feet.

Scattered in the deep arroyos (or small canyons) carved in the earth at the base of the Tent Rocks, we found small globes of opalescent volcanic glass, forged from the explosions of the Jemez volcanic field.

We climbed an embankment just south of the spires and took our pictures there at 10AM as the light slanted in beautifully from the east.

Reopened after road renovations on September 12, 2010, the monument is ready for visitors. From Santa Fe, take I-25 and exit Cochiti Pueblo 264, right to NM-16 N. Turn right on NM-22 N, then right at Indian Service Route 92 and follow the signs to Cochiti Pueblo and the national monument. Be aware a segment of this access road crosses tribal land, private landowners, the Santa Fe National Forest and the State of New Mexico. Respect the property by observing appropriate boundaries and resisting the urge to collect rocks, gems and other artifacts.

The Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument,
Santa Domingo, NM;
505-761-8700; Private vehicles $5;
Seasonal hours

Classic Spots

The oldest known European-influenced house in the United States, the Roque Tudesqui House is nestled in the heart of Santa Fe just east of Old Santa Fe Trail and west of Blue Rose Photography. Built in 1646 in an area formerly known as the Barrio de Analco, the pueblo-like structure is now protected as part of the Santa Fe National Historic District.

Other buildings and homes in the district were built in the 1700s, making the Historic District a treasure for Santa Fe travel photography. Our best pictures were taken facing southeast from the middle of De Vargas Street.

Roque Tudesqui House,
215 East De Vargas St,
Santa Fe, NM

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