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Rockhounding near Santa Fe


I will be in Santa Fe to teach in March, and will have a couple extra
days to see the area just a little. My favorite thing is
rockhounding, though I have really zero time to cut the rocks when I
get them back home. Any suggestions where to go? I can get a book,
of course, just thought I’d ask. I’m open to other “must see” places
as well-- I’ve been to Santa Fe only briefly, once, and saw the Old
Santa Fe shopping area, where I really couldn’t tell what was really
old and what was Disney-like re-creation, but it was fun.
Suggestions for restaurants are welcome, too! It is hard to get
really good southwestern food in my area.



Out of curiosity where are you teaching?

Tomasita’s at the railroad station is the place for green chile
enchilatas and other things. Prices are more than modest; it’s a
favorite place for locals.

The high end restaurants are not at the level of good restaurants

Mu Du Noodles is another place I like. Pasqual’s is a place tourists
like; it’s downtown.

As for rock hunting I’d suggest Cerillos.

I don’t have the time right now; but when I do I’ll write details.



I would look into contacting any rockhound clubs in the area, they
would know better than anyone.


Out of curiosity where are you teaching? 

I’m teaching two day-long beginner metalsmithing projects at Bead
Fest, at the Santa Fe Convention Center.


Suggestions for restaurants are welcome, too 

Noel, I can’t tell you rock hounding sites except if you go to
Albuquerque go to Southwest Minerals, across from the fairgrounds.
It’s a pretty incredible place…

For food we like Cafe Pasqual. It’s far from fancy and it has real
down home food. What you would call “Santa Fe Cuisine” but funkier
than some. Chile’s hot… they don’t take reservations and there’s
always a 2 hour wait, so put in your name and go do something else
for awhile. I don’t remember the name of it, but the place on the
square (American Restaurant?) (There’s only one…) is actually
pretty good for being on a square. Also not fancy… For finer dining
there are several that I don’t remember - we always eat at Pasqual…


Noel. Lucky you to be giving a class in Santa Fe. I agree with

Avoid the high end restaurants and seek out the smaller places where
the locals eat. It has been such a long time since I lived in the
south west that I am sure any place I enjoyed has long since gone. I
still Long for the real chili rellenos, enchilladas, chimichangas
etc. Nothing here in the great Pacific Northwest even approaches what
I had in New Mexico, or Arizona I’ve tried duplicating them at home,
but they just aren’t the same. Also miss the wonderful margaritas
they served. Most of our local stuff is watered down.



I second the vote for Tomasita’s for the green chile anything. The
Blue Corn Cafe Brewery (in Old Town) has very good, reasonably priced
food and excellent beer.

Can’t give more advice than that. Have a great trip.


I would look into contacting any rockhound clubs in the area, they
would know better than anyone. 

Michael, what clubs are they?



Two things I would suggest: see Chaco canyon if you can; not that far
a trip from Santa Fe. The other is to see the night sky away from
ambient light.

Another worthwhile trip is the high road to Taos. If you take that
trip, there is a wonderful bistro in Penasco called “Sugar Nymphs”.
Another eating place in Santa Fe is “Chocolate Mavens” not far from
downtown but not walking distance. I’m one of those who when
travelling, chooses where I will eat before anything else. Santa Fe
Farmers Market in the ‘railroad yard’ district is very nice. You’ll
have to call when you’re here about open hours’; lots of seasonal

Cerrillos was (is) famous for turquoise. I000 years ago people walked
from the area around what is now Mexico City to Cerrillos for
turquoise which was considered more precious than gold. There was a
green turquoise called Cerrillos ‘jade’ which was hard and beautiful.
Some entrepreneur currently ‘mines’ in Cerrillos. I’m not up to date
on that. You can ‘goggle’ Cerrillos; lots of entries.

I like northern NM so much I moved here twice. As things come to mind
I’ll mention (email) them.



Hi Noel,

Just thinking about food in Santa Fe makes me hungry!

My top picks…

  1. Plaza Cafe… in the old plaza.
  2. Coyote Cafe…on Water St… in the old plaza. But eat
    outside at the roof top cafe where they have great food at smaller
  3. Gabriel’s…on Banana Lane…a little north of Santa Fe.
  4. Cowgirl Hall of Fame…on Guadalupe St…Santa Fe.

There’s a zillion more…but these are great!

Have a great time, that city has soooooo much to offer.


Noel As for Mexican food in Santa Fe try the Shed, it’s just off the
square great food I stop there every trip. As for rock collecting
ther was a ton of stuff from Santa Fe County at the Mineral Museum in
Socorro but you might have to ask around locally there are a couple
rock shops around the square.

Dave Owen


Noel, if I’m in town I’d like to invite you for a coffee or a beer,
your choice. March is the start of my spring art fair season. I’m
going to San Francisco and then Philadelphia in the month of March.

Given what I’ve seen of your work there’s a gallery a block from the
Sweeney Conf. Center that you should visit: Patina 131 W Palace.

any place or places that I’ve mentioned in this thread are personal
choices only. I have not been reimbursed in any form by aforesaid
businesses or institutions.


Any suggestions where to go? 

I would suggest the Wheelright Museum of Indian Art. I once saw an
exhibition there of the work of Charles Loloma - absolutely awe
inspiring creations of wearable art. (Charles was a friend of one of
my mentors- Vernon McNiel). Their info is on the web.

A couple of other things to see are the Saint Francis Cathedral
(take a camera and make time to get a sunset photo) and the infamous
Loretto chapel ( read up on the "miraculous spiral staircase).

Rockhounding is easy at the Tesuque / Santa fe Flea Market… ( go
early as they close early in the afternoon, i think). There you will
find many vendors to distract you with goods both local and from
around the world… obviously a lot of imported stuff… but look
closely and you can find quality goods: including local Indian
jewelry and and some good gem/rough material sometimes. as always,
knowing the price range on the material you want will keep you from
paying too much. caveat emptor!



I found a couple websites when I googled ‘rockhounding "santa fe"

Hope you might find them of some use.

Mike DeBurgh, GJG
Henderson, NV



I would contact the local rock club. I have found the following
listed on the RMFMS site. I can’t say how current the info is…

Santa Fe Geological Society, Inc.,P. O. Box 1245, Sandia Park, NM
87047; Pres: Lee Winn, (505) 820-1085;

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan


Hi Noel - I’m so jealous - be sure to inhale some pinon smoke from
someone’s fireplace just for me.

Restaurants - you MUST try the Carne Adovado at Horeseman’s Haven on
the south end of town - it will change your life (OK, maybe not, but
it’s incredible). Don’t eat around the square - it’s tourist quality
and price. Go to Maria’s for Old Mexican food, just to switch things
up, and if a little old woman who speaks no English approaches you at
a gas station to buy tamales, BUY THEM. (Hint - be aware that
"Chicharrones" means pork FAT, and it’s offered as burritos etc.) The
working folk eat lunch at Pancho’s (?), at St. Michaels Dr and Llano,
behind the Chevron station - excellent burritos and don’t forget the
condiments bar (radishes, salsas, cilantro and lime wedges) - also
try Tomasita’s if you have some taste buds you’d like to blow out
(everything seems a little hotter there, for some reason). There’s a
little hole in the wall on Cerrillos Road, called The Burrito Wagon
or something similar, next to Baskin Robbins - excellent and
inexpensive (take out only). Harry’s Roadhouse is different (nouvelle
New Mexican) and really good, but the wait can be mindboggling during
peak hours. Truthfully, it’s difficult to find bad food in Santa Fe,
except for around the plaza - even the gas stations serve good green

As for the rockhounding - Cerrillos (20 minutes south of town on old
Hiway 14) has a state park - you can see Chachaweedle (sp??) the
oldest turquoise mine in North America but don’t know if "hounding"
is allowed anymore. Excellent Tennessee Walking Horse-back riding to
be found there at the Broken Saddle Riding Co. - call ahead as they
organize rides by ability. Mention you want to see the mine, as they
have different routes. To be honest, it’s just a hole in the ground,
but it’s a HISTORIC hole. Just past Cerrillos there’s a gold mine,
up… wait for it…Gold Mine Road - they may be openfor touring,
not sure. The tailings of that mine were used for the road leading
to it - many locals prospected from those but that’s been awhile.

Madrid (3 miles past Cerrillos) has a lot of art galleries, many
carry local rocks for purchase - I know it’s not the same as digging
them up yourself. One note of caution - I lived there for 7 years -
it is not a good idea to park your car on a side road and walk around
looking for rocks, unless the nearest resident has given permission.
My closest neighbor used to shoot at vehicles she didn’t recognize,
just on principle. (Madrid is a hippy town - the saying is that if
you wear a tie, a watch, or underwear, you must be a nark - god bless
that town!)

As for other “must see” - the museums, esp. the Institute of American
Indian Arts on the plaza and the Wheelwright Museum of the American
Indian are incredible, world class museums. Canyon Road is the high
end art mar= ket - in the 70’s Santa Fe was one of the 3 largest art
markets in the world - Canyon Road still remembers. It’s worth a
drive to check out Taos, and maybe go to Taos Pueblo or Santa Domingo
Pueblo (specialty silver jewelry) or Santa Clara Pueblo or San
Ildefonso (specialties pottery). Also check out the flea market if
it’s open - like no other flea market you’ve ever seen- $1 tools next
to $30,000 rugs. Thanks for the trip down memory lane - I’m HUNGRY
now! Email me for more, or feel free to call me - sorry I went on at
such length - it’s difficult to edit yourself when you’re passionate
about the subject.

Susan “Sam” Kaffine


That’s ABQ which is 70 miles south of Santa Fe.



Contact the Albuquerque Gem and Mineral Club

Both Paul Hlava and Dave Moats (Officers link) are “old” friends of
mine and quite knowledgeable. They may be able to recommend possible
sites. Be sure to send them my regards.

Mark Fant