Peñasco and Picuris Pueblo
When Spanish explorer Don Juan de Oñate arrived in this area, he called the people "pikuria"—those who paint. Before the Spanish came, Picurís Pueblo was one of the largest and most powerful of the pueblos, located at the confluence of two rivers and on a major pass that leads through the mountains to the Great Plains in the east. This strategic location made it a key site for trade with the Apaches, but once the Comanches arrived and the Spanish brought horses, the pueblo became vulnerable to attack. The fierce Picurís continued to fight the Spanish even after the Reconquest, and lost many members of the tribe as a result.
Like Taos, Picurís is a Tiwa pueblo. Picurís today, while small, has a thriving buffalo herd and runs the lovely Hotel Santa Fe in Santa Fe. It is known for its gold-hued micaceous pottery (featuring flecks of shiny mica). When the 200-year-old San Lorenzo de Picuris church collapsed in 1989 due to water damage, pueblo members rebuilt it by hand. San Lorenzo Feast Day is August 10. Please get permission before taking photos anywhere on the pueblo.
Return to State Road 75 and follow it back into Peñasco. Today the town of Peñasco serves residents in the many charming villages and rural areas surrounding it, as well as the residents of Picurís Pueblo. It offers several art galleries and the Sugar Nymphs Bistro, featured in Gourmet magazine as one of the country’s best restaurants. This is also where you will find the Penasco Theatre, home of Wise Fools New Mexico, providing various forms of performance art, including a circus!
Penasco also provides other "modern" conveniences, like gas stations, eateries, food stores, and a post office. This village is truly a mixture of old and new, action and rest, art and life. Leaving Peñasco, the road makes a wide curve to the left, but keep going straight to take State Road 73 into a beautiful river valley flanked by steep mesas and the Llanos.
Resources for Picuris and Penasco:
- Picurís Pueblo—from the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
- Picurís Pueblo—from New Mexico Magazine
- Picurís Pueblo—from Wikipedia
- Picurís—from online version of Spanish Mission Churches of New Mexico by L. Bradford Prince (1915)
- New Wave: Welcome Change Washes over Historic Peñasco by Lesley S. King, New Mexico MagazineJuly 2009
- Peñasco—from Sangres.com
- Peñasco—from Moon Travel Guides