Grants is a vibrant New Mexico community. Roughly an hour west of Albuquerque, the town is full of hidden gems that make it a stop that no Southwestern traveler would want to miss. Recently I spent some time exploring Grants, and I found something new around every corner. Had I not made this trip, I would have never known about this uncommon destination. Though there is more to do in Grants than I had time for, I’m excited to tell you about just a few of my favorite areas to experience.
The County seat of Cibola County, Grants boasts a population almost 10,000 strong. Known as “The Uranium Capital of the United States”, the town today straddles the line between history and avante-garde. Located on that world-famous piece of Americana, Route 66, Grants has a thriving Main Street where shopping local is the theme.
Like the idea of Farm to Table? Grants has you covered there with a booming Farmer’s Market held every Saturday, August through October.
Located on Route 66/Santa Fe Avenue, the Cibola Arts Council runs an art gallery and museum that features the works of local artists and many Route 66 artifacts. The museum hosts special events, shows, and openings on a regular basis. Also located along this hisyoric stretch of highway is the New Mexico Mining Museum, the only uranium mining museum in the world.
Feeling a little Zen? Located just a short trip to the west of town is the Buddhist temple Zuni Mountain Stupa. Built in 2009, this temple holds numerous retreats and events throughout the year.
Ya’at’eeh-The Crownpoint Rug Auction
Located just outside Grants on the Navajo Reservation is the exquisite experience that is the Crownpoint Rug Auction.
Founded over 50 years ago the auction is a genuine Navajo event featuring contemporary, handmade, all-wool Navajo rugs and the weavers who make them.
The auction takes place once a month at the Crownpoint Elementary School. Weavers from all over the Navajo Nation bring in their expertly crafted handmade traditional rugs. Rugs sell from less than $50 to thousands of dollars. This is truly an event well worth the time.
El Malpais National Monument
Just south of Grants, you will find El Malpais National Monument. This area is home to one of the most unique landscapes I’ve seen in my life. The area is full of many trees, yet it has the wild rock formations of a desert. If you aren’t scared of tight spaces, be sure to explore some of the caves in the area. I was blown away by how many opportunities there are for caving here. You would need at least a week to explore them all. Above the ground, my favorite natural feature is La Ventana Arch. This sandstone feature is the second largest natural arch in New Mexico. Only a short walk from the main road, this incredible arch is much larger than photos could possibly convey.
In the same area as El Malpais, you will find the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary. Whether you’ve never seen a wolf before or are a wildlife expert, this is a wonderful place to be. The sanctuary is home to a wide variety of rescued wolves, foxes, and more. The experienced volunteers here will take you on a tour of the sanctuary, giving you an informed look at the beautiful animals up-close. I never thought that I would have the opportunity to look a wolf in the eyes, but this sanctuary made it a reality.
Land of Fire and Ice
Not too far from the wolf sanctuary, you can find something that you would never expect to find in the southwest: a large ice cave. The cave is a 10-15 minute hike from the parking lot, and it feels otherworldly. As you walk down the stairs into the cave, you will begin to feel the temperature dropping, which is very refreshing after spending a day in the hot sun. The cave looks beautiful, and it has a green tint in areas due to arctic algae. It’s truly unlike anything else on the planet.
Just a short hike from the ice cave, you will also find the Bandera Volcano. This volcano erupted nearly 10,000 years ago and left an 800-foot-deep crater in the earth. The trail allows visitors to hike to the rim of the crater and admire this enormous opening in the earth. It’s very incredible that the volcano coexists with an ice cave.
The Land Of Enchantment
Though these are the main attractions that caught my attention, I also was able to more briefly experience several other areas in Grants, such as Acoma Pueblo, El Morro National Monument, and Mount Taylor. I would love to return to explore more of the area surrounding Grants, but for now, the journey is up to you.
This article was created in partnership with the City of Grants, New Mexico.