One of the oldest roads in the United States, and probably the oldest still in use, is Santa Fe’s Canyon Road, an Indian trail in the 1300’s. “El Camino del Canyon” connected the Santa Fe pueblo and the pueblo at Pecos to the southeast. The road was used by woodcutters to bring firewood into town on their burros. In the 1920’s, a small community of artists took up residence along Canyon Road. Today, over one—hundred shops and galleries can be found along a seven— block length of this narrow road. Allow at least a half—day to explore Canyon Road. Start at the western end, where Canyon Road intersects with Paseo de Peralta, and walk eastward. Morning light casts strong shadows across doors that are mostly painted a traditional shade of blue. The muted earth tones of adobe walls accentuate the bright, contrasting colors of hanging ristras, or strings of red chili peppers. Window boxes filled with red geraniums reflect in the old glass of hand made windows. If you are searching for black—and—white images, look for simple patterns of light and shadow, and textures revealed by strong cross lighting. Watch for hand made doors of weathered wood and brightly painted wood. Some doors open onto court yards and gardens of bright flowers, cactus, and weeds. Discover courtyards in full sun and others shaded by cottonwoods and Russian olive trees. Canyon Road is lined with expensive homes, designed to look like simple adobe haciendas. Most are surrounded by walled courtyards and tall cottonwood trees. These houses are often quite deceptive from the outside. These simple, mud—colored adobe homes of low rectangular shapes have been softly rounded by the hands of craftsmen working and building in an ancient style–the style that all of Santa Fe has adopted. Morning light illuminates only half the scenes along Canyon Road. Return in the late afternoon and walk the other side of the road. One of my favorite spots is the old gate on the southwest corner of Canyon and Delgato Roads. If you find a car parked in front of your favorite spot, come back later in the day and try again.
Notes and images from Bob Hitchman.