Farmington, New Mexico by Victoria Ugarte
Farmington is specifically called the “Four Corners Region” as it is located in on the northwest corner of New Mexico, next to the southwest corner of Colorado, the northeast corner of Arizona, and the southeast corner of Utah. It is cradled in the verdant San Juan River Valley and within sight of Colorado's rugged San Juan Mountains and Arizona, and Utah’s desert highlands. It’s a small town so it won’t hold your attention for too long, but it’s a good place to start your New Mexico adventure because of its close proximity to the various historic ruins nearby.
Farmington’s history dates back over 2,000 years ago, when the Anasazi basket makers lived in the area in homes built from the native sandstone rock. After the Anasazi left, the land was inhabited by the Navajo, Jicarilla Apache, and then the Utes. In the late 1700‘s, the Spanish passed through this area, eventually settling in the eastern part of San Juan County in the early 1800s. The population of Farmington began to grow as pioneers settled in the 1870’s. It eventually blossomed into a flourishing farm and ranch economy by the early 1900’s.
Farmington: Where To Stay
Kokopelli’s Cave B&B - If you want a completely unique and adventurous start to your New Mexican holiday, then do yourselves a favour and book your stay with Kokopelli’s Cave B&B. This B&B is a luxury cliff dwelling just north of Farmington with unparalleled views of Shiprock and the Chuska mountains on the northwest side, the Carrizo Mountains in the west and northwest, the Ute Mountains in the north, and the snow capped La Plata and San Juan Mountains in southwestern Colorado. Needless to say, the sunsets from this B&B are spectacular.
Built 70 feet underground, the entrance is located in the cliff face, which can be reached in five minutes from your car by walking down a sloped gravel path and onto steps cut into the sandstone. Believe me, the short trek is worth it. The spacious rooms, which remain cool in the summer and warm in the winter, feature an awesome sound system, a well stocked full kitchen, fun waterfall shower, and every luxury one can think of.
Tip for Kokopelli’s: Rather than diluting your dining experience by looking for somewhere to eat in town, which doesn’t offer a wide variety anyway, try ordering your own ingredients ahead of your arrival and grilling your own dinner on the patio, as you gaze out at the breathtaking vistas and sunset - Kokopelli Manager, Lindy, will be happy to arrange this for you. To cap off a perfect evening, indulge in a jacuzzi or soak in the hot tub. 3204 Crestridge Drive, Farmington, NM. www.bbonline.com/nm/kokopelli/
Casa Blanca Inn - If driving up the face of a cliff, and trekking 70 feet underground to your accommodation is too much adventure for you, then Casa Blanca Inn may be more your speed. Located in a quiet residential neighbourhood, and within easy walking distance to Historic Downtown Farmington, this rambling hacienda is a hidden gem. It is also ideally situated for those traveling on day trips to Monument Valley, Chaco Canyon, Mesa Verde, or Durango. The grounds are beautifully landscaped, surrounded by tranquil fountains and a feature courtyard, while the rooms are spacious, tastefully furnished, and enjoy a private outdoor seating area and mini-kitchen.The common areas are decorated with hand-carved furniture, Navajo rugs, rustic pottery and baskets, and handwoven Guatemalan textiles. The Casa Blanca Inn serves up a sumptuous breakfast each morning featuring homemade recipes. 505 E. La Plata, Farmington, NM. www.4cornersbandb.com/
Farmington: What To Do
1) The Salmon Ruins/ Heritage Park: Built by Chacoan ancestors in the 11th century, the Salmon Ruins show the remains of the Indigenous Chaco culture and the 19th century pioneer homestead of a man named Salmon. Artifacts collected through the years can be viewed from the museum at the Visitor’s Centre. The Salmon Ruins is located 12 miles (19.3 kms) east of Farmington on Hwy 64.
2) Aztec Ruins National Monument: Only a short distance north of the Salmon Ruins are the Aztec Ruins National Monument. The name of the Aztec Ruins is misleading. Early Anglo settlers who knew little of American prehistory thought that the inhabitants had been related to the Aztecs, so the name stuck. These well-preserved ruins feature a remarkable variety, number, and concentration of buildings, masonry rooms, roads, prehistoric canals, and the largest reconstructed kiva in the world,. According to tree-ring dating, the West Ruin was built between 1111 and 1115 AD. There is also a small museum with a gift shop on the premises.
3) Shiprock: Hwy 64 from Farmington will take you by the most awesome sight in the area, Shiprock, a spectacular 1700 foot high volcanic plug which was a sacred site for the Navajo Indians. In the Navajo language, this rock formation is called Tse be dahi, meaning "rock with wings." The town of Shiprock was named after this massive rock and was the headquarters for the Northern Navajo Indian Agency from l903 to l938.
4) Chaco Culture National Historic Park:
Chaco Culture Historical Park is a designated World Heritage Site that features the most significant concentration of pueblos in the Southwest. In fact, from 900 to 1150 AD, Chaco Canyon was the cultural centre of the ancestral Pueblo world, with buildings appearing to have been aligned according to solar and lunar cycles, reflecting generations of astronomical knowledge and highly developed construction techniques. A well maintained visitors centre that includes a museum, theatre, and bookstore provides one with plenty of information on the history and orientation of this historic park. For more information on Chaco Culture National Historic Park: www.nps.gov/chcu
The best way to get to Chaco Canyon is from Shiprock. Head back towards Farmington, then towards Bloomfield. Chaco Canyon sits 13 miles (21 kms), south of Farmington and Bloomfield in a fairly remote location. It is connected to the outside world by Route 57, which is a gravel road. Take this route only if your vehicle can stand the rough ride.
For those who have a smaller vehicle and need to take the easier route, take Hwy 550 (formerly NM Route 44) from Bloomfield and head south for 44 miles (70.8 kms) to Nageezi. Turn west and follow Route 57 to the park. This route is clearly signed from Hwy 550 to the park boundary (21 miles; 33.8 kms), and includes 8 miles of paved road (12.8 kms) and 13 miles (20.9 kms) of rough dirt road.