Truchas, New Mexico

  • The Truchas Elementary School
  • A church cum artist gallery in Truchas
  • Tafoya General Store in Truchas
  • The former Truchas Post Office
  • A narrow street in Truchas
  • A wall mural in Truchas
  • The view south from Truchas

Truchas is an old Hispanic settlement in a location on a high ridge where you know you're on the High Road to Taos. There is a turn to the left on the main road at the beginning of town but if you stay straight ahead you enter into the old village. The road there is narrow with houses and other buildings butting right up against the pavement. Passing all the way through town will take you onto a Forest Service road that goes several miles into Santa Fe National Forest and then dead ends at the Santa Barbara campground. If you are intent on climbing the Truchas Peaks, this looks like an ideal spot to begin your hike. However, the Forest Service has recommended for many years that you don't leave any vehicle you value in there while you climb the peaks.

Truchas was founded in 1754 to occupy the Nuestra Señora del Rosario, San Fernando y Santiago del Rio de las Truchas Land Grant. Because of its relatively remote location, the town really hasn't changed much over the years. And the town still operates under the original land grant bylaws, except one modification allows cars to use the same roads as livestock but the livestock retain priority.

If you take the left at that first intersection, you'll stay on the Scenic Byway and head north out of town and over the hill towards Ojo Sarco and Las Trampas. A couple of miles up the road and you'll come to a scenic overlook. The route has been in use for several hundred years but pavement didn't reach Truchas until the early 1970's.

I first came through Truchas back in 1988 when I was living in Santa Fe and getting to know the surrounding area. Those were the days when Robert Redford was filming The Milagro Beanfield War in Truchas. He brought in a few "name" actors for the movie but almost everyone else in the film was a local.

These photos were all taken in 2007 and I saw some significant changes from 19 years before. The biggest change is in the number of artist studios in town: there's a lot more than there used to be. And while the Penitente cross at that main intersection was relatively new and imposing, that kind of activity wasn't as prevalent as it used to be. However, there is still some tension between the descendants of the original Hispanic settlers and the newcomer artist-types (who are mostly Anglos).

Truchas, New Mexico
This Penitente cross is beside the main road at the main intersection in town
The view is looking southwest
Fast Facts about Truchas, New Mexico
Truchas, Rio Arriba County, NM 87578
Latitude: 36.0436°N
Longitude: 105.8111°W
Founded: 1754
Elevation: 8,400'
Cost of Living Index for Truchas: 82.0
Major Occupations:
Forest Products
Arts & Crafts
Population Demographics: 2010
Total Population 560
Males 288
Females 272
Population by Age
Under 18 110
18 & over 450
20-24 24
25-34 55
35-49 93
50-64 153
65 & over 114
Population by Ethnicity
Hispanic or Latino 482
Non Hispanic or Latino 78
Population by Race
White 326
African-American 2
Asian 0
Native American 7
Hawaiian or Pacific Islander 0
Other 213
Two or more 12