Española (New Mexico) is a small city in New Mexico in the United States. Home to two casinos and numerous historic sites, combined with its proximity to a number of Pueblo Indian communities, makes it an interesting place to visit in its own right, as well as a useful staging point for trips into north central New Mexico. It is located midway between Santa Fe and Taos on US 84/285.
Española is about 20 miles (30 km) north of Santa Fe on US Highway 84/285. Though there is a small airport north of town, there is no commercial air service.
Española is not particularly pedestrian friendly. Nearly everything in town requires a car to be reached.
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 (Espanola), Santa Fe, Taos and Los Alamos.
Most of the most interesting things to see are not on the main drag. You'll need to venture onto the side roads. Ansel Adams' famous "Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941," considered by some the finest photographic black-and-white print ever made, was taken just north of Española. Bring your camera and see what you see.
- Santa Cruz de la Cañada (Holy Cross Catholic Church), 100 Church St Santa Cruz, NM 87567 (Go east on NM 76, turn left on S. McCurdy Road. On the west side of the plaza.). Right on the Santa Cruz plaza, Santa Cruz de la Cañada is one of the oldest Catholic parishes in New Mexico. The village surrounding it (now surrounded by Española,) predates the larger town by more than 200 years.
- Pueblo art (pottery and jewelry) is available in a few places in town, but better at the pueblos themselves. Several significant potters at Santa Clara Pueblo have galleries easily reached from New Mexico route 30, south of town on the way to Los Alamos. San Juan Pueblo, on the north side of Española, also produces pottery that can be bought at a small shop there.
- Angelina's, 1226 N. Railroad Ave (just off NM 584 west of the Rio Grande bridge), ☎ . 7 days, 7AM-9PM (9:30 on Friday and Saturday). A long-time local favorite that recently moved to a new location. New Mexican and American; service can be spotty, but nobody complains about the green chile. Good for breakfast.
- El Paragua, 603 Santa Cruz Rd, ☎ . The best place in town for New Mexican cuisine (stuffed sopaipillas with red or green chile, etc.). The discerning visitor can discover several drawings by cartoonist Bill Mauldin on the walls inside. 602 Santa Cruz Road, near one of several starting points for the "High Road to Taos". Lunch and dinner.
- La Cocina, 415 S Santa Clara Rd, ☎ . New Mexican & American
- Dandy Burger, 424 South Riverside Dr, ☎ . open early close late. Great burgers fries and other fried food. Cheap and fast. $5-$10.
- Saints and Sinners, 503 South Riverside Dr. A good local liquor store with a great neon sign.
- Days Inn, 807 South Riverside Dr, ☎ .
- Inn At The Delta, 243 N Paseo de Onate Española, ☎ , toll-free: . Family owned and operated. It has the elegance of a first-class hotel and the coziness of a home away from home.
- Motel 6, 811 South Riverside Dr, ☎ .
- Ohkay Casino Resort (San Juan Pueblo, just north of town), ☎ .
- Rodeway Inn, 604-B S. Riverside Dr, ☎ .
- Santa Claran Hotel & Casino, 460 N. Riverside Dr, toll-free: . The tallest building in town. It has a bowling alley, and valet parking.
- Three Native American pueblos border the town: Santa Clara Pueblo and San Ildefonso Pueblo on the south, Ohkay Owingeh (formerly San Juan Pueblo, and still so listed on many maps) on the north. Several other pueblos (Nambe, Pojoaque at the town of the same name, Tesuque) are nearby. All are good sources of American Indian arts and crafts; Santa Clara and San Ildefonso are particularly noted for fine black and red pottery. Santa Clara also contains the Puye Cliff Dwellings, an interesting archaeological site (fee -- seems to be closed at the moment owing to residual forest-fire damage). Several of the pueblos host casinos.
- North of town on US 285, about a half-hour drive, is the tiny town of Ojo Caliente, which has a popular hot springs resort with several mineral spring pools, spas, bath houses, and scenic hiking trails leading into the hills behind town.
- Taos, Santa Fe and Los Alamos with Bandelier National Monument nearby are all short drives from Española. The primary route to Taos follows the Rio Grande and passes a number of picturesque little villages, many with seasonal fruit stands. (Don't bother with the peaches at these; in the main, they're not local products but are trucked in. Much of the other produce, however, is of local origin, including apples and chile.) This stretch of the Rio is excellent white water, but there are more outfitters/tour operators in Taos and Santa Fe than in Española.
- Española is the gateway to much of the red-rock country of north central New Mexico made famous by artist Georgia O'Keeffe. The small town of Abiquiu is northwest on US Highway 84, with a pleasant motel and attached restaurant (Abiquiu Inn, Cafe Abiquiu) and Abiquiu Lake, a man-made lake on the Rio Chama that can offer some boating and fishing, depending on the level of the lake (it's often drawn down in fall and winter to prepare for spring runoff). Ghost Ranch, a conference and retreat center owned by the Presbyterian Church is just north of the lake. There are a number of hiking and photography opportunities in this area.
- Keep in mind, US 84/285 are co-routed on the same road through town, and the actual junction is about 10 miles northwest of Española.
|Routes through Española|
|Pagosa Springs ← Abiquiu ←||N S||→ Pojoaque → Santa Fe|
|Alamosa ← Jct W E ←||N S||→ Merges with|
|END ←||SW NE||→ Taos → Ends at|