By Alberta Bouyer
The Wild Rivers area of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument offers some of the most dramatic hiking trails and stunning campsites in northern New Mexico. For campers, hikers, and the curious, this summer will find Saturday evening presentations at the intimate amphitheater behind the visitors’ center. The Questa History Trail team will co-host, with the BLM, a series of multimedia performances illuminating the historical life-ways and culture of this remote area.
Questa’s History Trail team is behind the new .6m route that links downtown Questa with its historic plaza, the site of the recently restored San Antonio de Padua church. This adobe structure dates to the mid-1800s and is at the center of the trail that highlights a 5,000-year timeline including rare geologic features, Hispano and multicultural settlements, Native life and conflicts, frontier religious devotion and more. Discover a microcosm of Río Grande Valley history. The self-guiding trail begins at the traffic light where you will find walking maps.
In addition to being a historic community, Questa is surrounded by federally protected wilderness, and its arts scene greatly reflects this. The Questa Creative Council hosts two annual events in the summer that reflect a love of the outdoors and the inspiration found in its unique history.
July finds plein-air painters from around the Southwest signing in for the Wild Rivers Plein Air Festival that runs from the 16th to the 21st. Four days of open painting are based in the national monument, including a huge variety of sights and features within a 20-mile radius. Workshops and demos are open to the public, as is the Quick Draw when you can watch these fabulous artists depict the charms of the neighboring downtown of Red River. The art show closes the week of painting and will be held next door in Red River. The art-deco style Brass Rail theater is the unique venue. New Mexican food and drink will accompany the exhibition and sale of over 100 pieces of freshly painted fine art.
By August, art lovers in Taos County are already anticipating the fall arts season. Questa hosts the first of the area’s studio art tours, Aug. 17-18. Artists from Questa and the surrounding communities open their studios or, if they are too hard to reach at their remote homes, many will gather at easy-to-find hubs. All stops offer unique, handcrafted works from the traditional to the modern. From hand-carved bultos to exquisite jewelry, stunning photography, paintings, pottery and more. The route begins on the south side of Questa, reaches the edge of the national forest to the east, and ends to the north in Sunshine Valley at the architectural gem, Ute Air, an artist’s residency for emerging women artists.
Questa is about 24 miles from Taos, take Paseo del Pueblo Norte/U.S. Highway 64 to State Highway 522 north. For more information about the area, call the Village of Questa at (575) 586-0694; go online to visitquesta.com, questacreative.org or contact the Bureau of Land Management field office at (575) 758-8851.
Taos County now has two newly protected wilderness areas, the Cerro del Yuta (Ute Mountain) Wilderness and the Río San Antonio Wilderness. Both create about 21,500 acres of new wilderness within the quarter-million acre Río Grande del Norte National Monument near Questa.
June 16-Sept. 15
Questa Farmers Market
Wild Rivers Plein Air Festival
Studio Arts Tour
10 a.m.-5 p.m., questaartstour.com
Outdoor contemporary art event
4-9 p.m., leapsite.org