Tucked in the shadow of the Sangre de Cristo Mountain range along the Pecos River, the Village of Pecos is the ideal mix of historical tradition and wilderness escape. With spectacular landscapes, colorful aspen groves, and endless trails, this quaint mountain village in northern New Mexico is the perfect place for your next adventure.
Pecos is also steeped in a unique culture that you won’t find anywhere else in the country. Centered at the crossroads of the Southwest, New Mexico has developed a unique mix of Spanish, Mexican, and Native American traditions over the centuries, resulting in spectacular architecture, flavorful food, and a diverse collection of people who are proud to call this area home.
You don’t have to look far to find a way to entertain yourself—whether you’re fishing on the Pecos River, relaxing in a historic lodge, or touring a local art studio—there’s plenty to do in and around town. We rounded up 10 of the best cultural experiences for you to experience while exploring Pecos on your next New Mexican getaway.
1. Arrange a Private Tour of a Local Art Studio
Part of what sets New Mexico apart is the buzzing local art scene. The Land of Enchantment spurred famed artists like Georgia O’Keeffe, Wilson Hurley, Glenna Goodacre, and Roark Griffin to success, and you can see their work alongside the work of newer names in local galleries and museums in Pecos and Santa Fe.
Humming Wolf Studio, owned by local artist Phyllis Gunderson, is a must-visit while you’re in the area. You’ll find an inspiring collection of oil paintings depicting spectacular desert landscapes and mountain vistas.
Time your trip for late September and you’ll be able to go on the annual Pecos Studio Tour, which provides an opportunity to meet local artists and see them at work in their studios.
2. Stay in a Historic Lodge
Dreaming of a cozy weekend in a log cabin? Perfect! Pecos has a great selection of wood cabin-style lodges on the river, each with unique Southwestern decor. Pecos River Cabins (seven different cabins to choose from), Pecos River Cabin (a 100-year-old fully restored building), Hummingbird Cabin, Wilderness Gateway Inn, Pecos Cabins LLC, and Los Pinos Ranch are all wonderful places to lay your head at night. Settle in for a long weekend and be sure to get up early one morning to catch a sunrise.
3. Pick up a Breakfast Burrito at Pancho’s Gourmet To Go
As much as New Mexicans love settling in for a hearty meal of huevos rancheros, there isn’t much that beats a delicious and spicy handheld breakfast burrito that you can eat on the go. Pancho’s Gourmet To Go, located in the heart of town boasts green-chile-smothered fan favorites and an excellent selection of breakfast and lunch items.
4. Visit the Pecos Benedictine Monastery
The Pecos Benedictine Monastery and Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey offer a healing and spiritual retreat in the tradition of Benedictine peace and prayer. Stay overnight in one of the cozy rooms, take a walk on the more than 1,000 acres of private property (right along the Pecos River!), or pick up a book in the well-stocked library.
5. Enjoy a Delicious Meal at Frankie’s at the Casanova
There’s no better place to taste authentic New Mexican cuisine than at Frankie’s at the Casanova. This local staple serves scratch-made, traditional Southwestern favorites like tortilla green chile burgers, green chile chicken enchiladas, and pork carnitas—all guaranteed to make your taste buds sing.
6. Trek to Pecos National Historical Park
Pecos National Historical Park is as scenic as it is educational. Here, you’ll find ruins from ancient Native American Pueblos, a dude ranch that has housed celebrities over the years, and the site of the Battle of Glorieta Pass in 1862. Pecos National Historical Park is so special that it was even noted as one of the top 17 places to visit in the United States by CNN.com in 2018. Take a walk through the piñon, juniper, and ponderosa pine woodlands and experience the history of the ruins and beautiful land for yourself.
7. Take a Day Trip to Las Vegas and Visit the Historic Town Plaza
No, we’re not talking about the notorious city in Nevada. Las Vegas, New Mexico, is a scenic drive up I-25 and offers a dose of history and culture that shouldn’t be missed while you’re in the area. Peruse the charming shops in the Old Town Historic District, which has everything from art galleries and antique shops to bookstores and coffee shops.
8. Stop in at Los Pinos Guest Ranch
Los Pinos Guest Ranch harkens back to days long ago. Originally built as a summer residence in 1912, the lodge serves as a relaxing haven for its visitors and a gateway to the Pecos Wilderness. In fact, the lodge was established the same year that New Mexico became a state. Come take in the history and experience a wide range of activities, including horseback riding, hiking, and fishing.
9. Go Fishing on the Pecos River
The Pecos River is one of the best fishing waterways in the entire state, but the stretch in the Pecos Wilderness is especially good for reeling in trout from spring through fall. You can technically fish the river year-round, but it can be a snowy adventure to access the fishing at the higher elevations in the winter.
10. Head up the Road to Terrero
About 14 miles up Pecos Canyon you’ll find the Terrero General Store—a gem tucked into the Sante Fe National Forest. Located at the site of the former mining boomtown at Terrero, this store has everything you’ll need for a true New Mexico adventure, whether you’re going fishing or just for a drive through the mountains. The store has been in the Ley family since 1943 and in the spring and summer, you will see dozens of hummingbirds darting around the feeders that line the front porch.
Written by Sarah Strohl for Matcha in partnership with New Mexico Tourism Department.