Plaza Blanca - Abiquiu, New Mexico - Limestone Forms an Eerie White City

Located in the Rio Chama River Valley of the Carson National Forest is an eerie white limestone rock formation known as the Plaza Blanca - the "White City.'' Its 60-foot-high obelisks and otherworldly spires have been the subject of many photographs and works of art over the years, including Georgia O'Keeffe's 1940 painting entitled "The White Place.''

The Plaza Blanca's unusual landscape invites contemplation. To many, the towering white stone pillars and gnome-like hoodoos feel almost spiritual in nature. Apart from O'Keeffe, another famous celebrity enamored by Plaza Blanca is the actress Shirley MacLaine, who believes that sites like this aren't simply "exotic places'' on the Earth. She believes it has transformational power, a place "to heal physical, emotional and spiritual pain.''

Getting to the surrealistic cliffs and columns of Plaza Blanca requires some good hiking shoes. The trail leading to it covers three or four miles of New Mexico badlands, up steep washes and over mesa tops. The terrain is rather desolate, marked only by the occasional flowering Cholla cactus and Tamarisk plants. Bring plenty of sunscreen and water.

Plaza Blanca is about 18 miles south of Ghost Ranch and within hiking distance of Dar al Islam. It is also near the Plaza Blanco Ranch at 41174 Fictitious Street, Abiquiu, New Mexico 87510. Plaza Blanca can be seen from U.S. Highway 84 to the north when approaching Abiquiu from the east. The trailhead begins at the end of the El Rito Road turnoff.

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