We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“The journey is the reward”

Monastery of Christ in the Desert
Ranked #4 of 14 things to do in Abiquiu
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Level Contributor
59 reviews
22 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 64 helpful votes
“The journey is the reward”
Reviewed 26 October 2013

Just about 2 miles west of Ghost Ranch, off NM 84 (going to the south) is Forest Road 151. It's 13 miles long, all dirt, quite curvy, and not quite 2 cars wide. So, it's a 30-45 minute one-way trip.

At the end is a Catholic Monastery featuring a terrific chapel by the artist George Nakashima. Even better is the setting -- you get the idea as you take the drive, but the end is truly fantastic -- the church (and associated monastery and guest quarters) are in the middle of a nowhere that truly inspires.

Note: don't try the drive in bad weather (several parts of the road clearly are over-washed by rain). Watch out for oncoming drivers -- they're quite rare, but you don't want to encounter an oncoming car when taking one of the 5-6 nearly-blind curves.

Ah, but the vistas (mostly for the passengers) -- they're great (at the beginning: wide meadows and Mt. Pedernal in the distance; toward the middle: interesting green hills, then white-and-yellow cliffs; at the end: towering, overwhelming red cliffs behind, a green valley in front, and another mountain on the far side).

There's not much to see at the monastery (we were sad to find the chapel closed to visitors because of maintenance), but Nakashima's church is perfectly suited to the locale.

The return trip goes by faster (in truth, I learned that I could do better than 20mph), but was still beautiful enough that we stopped several times to take pix.

A worthwhile trip, but requires 90-120 minutes, to/from NM84.\

(Apparently, there are guest facilities, with prior reservation; I'd certainly like to do that -- seeing the sun set, the stars, and then sunrise in such a setting would be terrific.)

Visited October 2013
7 Thank Vince P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Write a Review

84 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Ossining, New York, United States
Level Contributor
18 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“NOT a tourist attraction”
Reviewed 12 September 2013

This is NOT a tourist attraction. This is a place of prayer, beauty, silence, and contemplation. DO NOT go if you are looking for anything else. You will be disappointed. IF, however, you seek all of the above and more, this may well be the place for you. It is totally removed from the hustle and bustle of the world. It is far far from "civilization". Believe me when I say that.
the accommodations are bare necessities. The food is good. the ambience is superb. The experience is "other -worldly". The scenery is breath-taking. The prayer of the monks is inspirational. You choose what you need. I would go back in a second.

Visited August 2013
7 Thank Lucille N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“THE Place to Become Fully Charged Again”
Reviewed 11 September 2013

If something, which you cannot identify, is missing from your life the desert is a safe place to reboot and one I like to say is "bathed in prayer" as you find your way. If you're serious...go alone and stay 5 days or more. If you're frightened just go for the day and pack a lunch. The desert has what you need. The question becomes, are you willing to be still long enough to hear or even recognize God's voice? He IS speaking and if He isn't perhaps you have too much going on. May you find the peace you seek. Oh and don't let not being a Catholic keep you away. I'm not one and have no desire, though I love the Benedictine ways and a life of simplicity and loving Christ. One other thing, I also got to visit, Our Lady of the Desert which is affiliated with Christ in the Desert. Easier to get to for sure and the hospitality is wonderful! Overnight accommodations include your own bathroom and electricity. Nice!

Visited September 2013
8 Thank MsSimple
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Washington, District of Columbia, United States
Level Contributor
188 reviews
75 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 81 helpful votes
“The drive in is the main attraction”
Reviewed 27 August 2013

The 13-mile dirt road to the Carmelite Monastery is the main attraction -- winding through amazing mesas sculpted in strange forms, and running high above the free-flowing Chama River, which rises in southern Colorado. Picnicking and some camping is possible along the Chama, which has NPS toilets and kayak/raft input points along the way. The Monastery itself is a cluster of lovely adobe buildings and a sanctuary, bookstore, monks' residences (not open to the public). Further up the valley one can see the hops strung on lines at the monastery farm -- the monks brew ale and sell some. A lovely long day trip from Santa Fe. Dirt road was freshly graded, but in most seasons you'll need a 4 WD vehicle with high clearance.

Visited August 2013
2 Thank Judith D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
15 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“Beautiful trip to Monastery”
Reviewed 23 August 2013

Spent an afternoon driving to the Monastery through the Chama River Wilderness area, about 13 miles on a rough road, but well worth the trip, the scenery along the way was so beautiful, I thought this might be what heaven would look like. Gift shop in the monastery, picked up some candles, etc. Very spiritual place. So peaceful and quiet. Off the beaten track, and so well worth the drive. We are from Canada, but when we return to New Mexico, in a year or so we hope, plan to revisit this place.

Visited September 2012
2 Thank Sylvia B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

Travellers who viewed Monastery of Christ in the Desert also viewed


Been to Monastery of Christ in the Desert? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing