Chimayó is a small town in North Central New Mexico. At the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Chimayó is most well-known for its famed church that has a reputation for delivering miracles. Originally a Spanish farming settlement, Chimayó is part of a string of villages along NM 76 that haven't changed much over the course of time, offering a unique look at life in such a setting.
Albuquerque is the nearest city with a major airport, although Santa Fe has off-again, on-again commercial jet service as well. Chimayó is reachable from Santa Fe on good and scenic 2-lane roads, but be a bit careful driving on them in the winter, as this is high country and mountain snowstorms can make a nasty mess out of a good road in remarkably short order. NM 76 east from Española or NM 503 northeast from Pojoaque will bring you to Chimayó. The North Central Regional Transit District "Blue Buses" provides free bus service Monday through Friday with routes that connect the counties and communities of Rio Arriba (Chimayó), Santa Fe, Taos and Los Alamos.
Santuario de Chimayo, more completely "El Santuario de Nuestro Señor de Esquipulas," is a church that dates to the Spanish mission period with a remarkable reputation for miracles, including healing the sick and lame. It is on the outskirts of the small town and can be visited for free during daylight hours, although donations are appreciated. The Santuario is quite famous among the towns of the mountains and is the destination for a unique pilgrimage during the week before Easter (see under Do).
Chimayó Museum, 13 Plaza De Cerro, 505 351 0945, .
Santuario de Chimayó is the destination for pilgrims who hike (sometimes for several days and many tens of miles) along the highways from the surrounding area as a gesture of faith and also in the hopes of taking advantage of the church's reputation for miraculous cures. If you're Catholic and have some time leading up to Easter, consider joining the throng; if you're just driving in the area then, be extra careful of pedestrians.
Chimayo blankets, textiles superficially similar to Navajo rugs but woven by descendants of Spanish settlers and much less complex; $50 will buy a good example. Weavers of the Cordova family are considered particularly proficient, and their work can be a little more expensive, but you get what you pay for.
Rancho de Chimayo, +1 505 984-2100 (reservations advised), . Definitive "New Mexican" cuisine (stuffed sopapillas, red and green chile, etc.) in a gorgeous setting. Dinner entrees average around $10. Hours vary seasonally; call or visit their web site.
Chimayó has a lamentably well-founded reputation as a center for narcotics trafficking, being on the "pipeline" for drugs coming into the United States from Mexico. Mind your own business and you won't have any problems, but this is a place where you do not want to interrupt a drug transaction, even inadvertently. Keeping a low profile in town (which mainly means sticking to the main road) is a very good idea.
Chimayo's reputation as the drug capital of Northern New Mexico may be a bit overblown, and possibly a bit out of date. A recent article in Wikitravel warned about the dangers of "interrupting a drug deal." Perhaps the writer had just seen an episode of Breaking Bad, but there don't seem to be any more drug problems here than any where else. Unfortunately, the availability of drugs is widespread throughout the U.S.--it pays to be careful anywhere you go