Above: Los Portales Shrine. Photograph by Gabriella Marks.
First find Bibo, north of Laguna Pueblo. From there, NM 279 leads to the small village of Seboyeta. Curve around the old church, Nuestra Señora de los Dolores, and you’ll come upon a dirt road that has, for centuries, carried believers into Seboyeta Canyon and then onto a 75-yard footpath that leads to a natural amphitheater. There, a trusty spring creates a nearly year-round garden of climbing roses and yerba mansa flowers at Los Portales Shrine. In the 1700s, Spanish settlers took shelter here, from Navajo raiders and from wind, rain, and snow, and they built the shrine in gratitude. Set before it are a few wooden pews and flagstone benches. Above a glass-encased statue of Mary, the rock face stretches up, curving out and over visitors’ heads and amplifying their voices. The seeping waters below are said to hold miraculous powers. “People go there and make promises,” says Ed Michael, a Bibo native who helps maintain the site. “It’s like the Santuario de Chimayó, but less publicized.”
From I-40, take US 66 at Laguna Pueblo, then go north on NM 279 for 13 miles. It turns to dirt for two miles, leading to a parking area.