Georgia O’Keeffe, DennisHopper, and hidden trails in Santa Fe by THE UNSEASONAL and DELSEY PARIS
DELSEY PARIS and THE UNSEASONAL are teaming up to take a fresh look at travel destinations that go beyond expectations. Let us invite you to explore the margaritas, counterculture, and more in Santa Fe, N.M., where even Dennis
Hopper once lost himself.
Picturesque Santa Fe is nestled in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, which merge seamlessly into the southeast part of the majestic Rocky Mountains. With an elevation of approximately 7,000 feet, the city is a launching point for ski afficionados who visit the
gorgeous snowcapped mountains in the winter. During the summer, New Mexico’s
capital indulges visitors with perfectly warm days and fields of wildflowers,
while the lower desert bakes in the sun at an average temperature of 100 F. Who
doesn’t remember the scene in Breaking Bad in which Walter wears
underpants in front of his RV, where he and Jesse have been cooking meth? The
series was primarily filmed in New Mexico’s expansive desert, located 50 miles
from Santa Fe. And it’s no wonder. The skies in New Mexico are breathtaking, and
the natural light is incredibly clear and pure.
Santa Fe is the oldest state capital in the United States — founded in 1610 — and has maintained its rich history and distinctive adobe architecture. The Pueblo-style houses are made of sun-dried bricks (“adobe” in Spanish) and other organic material, painted in subtle shades of pale brown, with characteristic alluvial clay walls and protruding wooden ceiling posts. The old part of the town extends just a couple of miles.
Its peaceful atmosphere is calming and refreshing. Upon exploring the narrow passageways, shaded yards, and hidden courtyards, you’ll find little shops selling Southwest turquoise jewelry, antiques, and Indian crafts, such as woven blankets, baskets, and sandals made of yucca and other fibers. After the Spanish introduced silver mining to the Southwest, the ancestors of the Pueblo people combined silver with the turquoise they considered sacred to create unique jewelry. When the railroad arrived in Santa Fe in the 1880s, Pueblo artists responded to the new demand for their art by creating items for the tourist market.
Countless restaurants are decorated with bunches of vibrant red dried chilies. Most roads converge at the Plaza, a grassy square surrounded by historic houses and the 17th-century Palace of the Governors, the oldest U.S. public building in continuous use that is now a museum. Other city landmarks are the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, the Loretto Chapel, and the Chapel
of Our Lady of Light. The oldest house dates back to 1200 CE.
The Margarita Trail in Santa Fe is also worth exploring. The city is known for its quality and variety of this specialty cocktail, and there is no shortage of places to find it. In fact, the Margarita Trail Paper Passport allows visitors to taste more than 40 of the best margaritas in the world. We stopped by The Shed — an institution in Santa Fe. Since 1953, this restaurant has been serving delicious, creative New Mexican cuisine, just a few steps from the Plaza on East Palace Avenue. The Shed’s shaded patio and family-style atmosphere is more than enjoyable.
Another excellent choice is The Pantry on Cerrillos Road. The authentic Mexican meals are served on colorful southwestern plates, filled with fresh fish and avocado.
Founded in 1948 and located in a little stucco building, the restaurant was once on the outskirts of town, on the old Route 66. It travels along the Old Santa Fe Trail, passing San Miguel Mission and Loretto Chapel, and across from the beautiful Santa Fe River, to the historic La Fonda Hotel on the Plaza in downtown Santa Fe.
For accommodations, we found El Rey Court on Cerrillos Road; it’s a re-imagined adobe inn with a modern swim club and a generous garden landscape.
Another outstanding option is the luxurious Bishop’s Lodge, just three miles from the historic city center. The century-old resort reopened in 2021 and has since become one of the most outstanding places to have memorable experiences. Its adobe structures, nestled in a lush garden, transport the visitor back in time. The expansive outdoors, designed with indigenous flora like buffalo grass, creates a feeling of remoteness and spirituality.
Southwestern and Native American culture has
always been inspired by nature, which is mysterious and powerful in its own way. Art is a profound part of Santa Fe’s identity and has made the city famous worldwide. To no surprise, inspiration and isolation are the key to Santa Fe’s success and flourishing art scene, spanning genres and decades.
Anglo artists from the eastern United States started to settle in the Santa Fe and Taos areas by the early 1900s, and the city quickly gained a reputation among American artists. Taos, the artists’ village, is just a stone’s throw from Santa Fe. Georgia O’Keeffe, the artist who is most associated with Santa Fe, moved to New Mexico in 1949. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum features her work, which is considered among the most influential in the rise of Modernism. Her themes included flowers, bones, skulls, nature, and the architectural landscapes of New Mexico.
But not only painters felt the pull of the city. When Dennis Hopper rode down Route 66 into Santa Fe in his movie Easy Rider at the end of the ’60s, he decided to stay. He bought a ranch in Taos, where he wanted to create a creative counterculture and remake a version of Hollywood — his vision of an independent studio system. He set up an editing studio in an old log cabin on his property, but the artists’ colony grew out of hand when a group of hangers-on essentially took over his home, and he realized he didn’t recognize anyone anymore.
Anecdotes about his legendary escapades include one in which he headed into the desert with a donkey-load of cocaine and a vat of whiskey. He disappeared for days and then entered a drug rehabilitation program in 1983. Taos celebrates Dennis Hopper Day annually with an Easy Rider ride, music, and movies. He wasn’t the only one attracted by the freedom and infinite expanse of the horizon over Santa Fe. Julia Roberts, Val Kilmer, Gene Hackman, and Shirley MacLaine, among others, have all called the city home, and some of them still do.
In recent years, contemporary, native, and historical art and design have transformed Santa Fe into a cultural mecca, with over 250 art galleries. But after you’ve experienced the full scope of the city’s culture and shopping, it’s time to take a trip out into the country. Being
in a saddle might be one of the best ways to explore places like O’Keefe’s Ghost Ranch, which got its name from cattle rustlers who hid their stolen goods in the area. Passing by the themes of O’Keefe paintings, you’ll see the painter’s
house that she kept on Ghost Ranch for over 40 years. She wandered the red, yellow, and purple hills under the spectacular cliffs, collecting animal bones and skulls at the foot of her favorite mountain and setting up her easel to
There truly is no place like Santa Fe, and there is no better way to breathe in the luxurious air of the nearby mountain ranges than on horseback. The feeling of deceleration and peace will linger with you for days, making this visit to Santa Fe an everlasting memory.
Images: Ger Ger Words: Tina Ger
The Unseasonal is a purpose-driven special projects magazine and alternative take on the world – a magazine about passion, travel, beauty, the change in seasons, the unusual, and the human condition. It features timeless pictorials, thoughtful stories, and unique collaborations. The Unseasonal embodies the feeling of a getaway, of slowing down, of exotic places, optimism, breathtaking dreams, unique architecture, and a lightness of being, traced with elements
from the past, the future, Romanticism, and impulses for making the world a better place.