Last year, some adventuring friends of mine urged,
"Take us to the southwest!"
And so, we are going!
The focus of this 7-day/6-night tour into the cultural heartland of New Mexico
will be Native American art, Pueblo culture, the great literary salons
of a century ago, and the delicious cuisines of the southwest.
My husband, artist John Gritts, a Cherokee very much at home in
Indian Country, will be co-guiding our sojourn.

September 6-12, 2019

Days 1 and 2, 9/6-9/7: Buffalo Thunder, Pojoaque

Roxanne Swentzell Sculpture,
The Tower Gallery

Roxanne Swentzell and Page Lambert, Bandelier National Monument

This seven-day/six-night adventure begins at the Hilton Buffalo Thunder Resort (just 15 miles north of downtown Santa Fe) on the sovereign Native American land of the Pueblo of Pojoaque, or Po-suwae-geh Owingeh meaning “water gathering place.”

Here, we will gather for our first two-night stay, enjoying the luxurious Pueblo-owned hotel as our home base. From there, we’ll tour the nearby Poeh Cultural Center and, with renowned Santa Clara Pueblo artist Roxanne Swentzell as our guide, tour her spectacular Tower Gallery before sitting down for a Pueblo Eating Experience with Chef Ray Naranjo, also of the Santa Clara Pueblo.

Following lunch, Roxanne, a recipient of New Mexico’s Living Treasure Award, will go with us to the Bandelier National Monument, once home to the Ancestral Pueblo People. There, we will walk on easy trails among cottonwoods, and on the moderate Main Loop Trail that winds through the historic site, leading us to alcoves and ancient dwellings.

After our tour of Bandelier, we’ll return to the Buffalo Thunder for a relaxing but elegant dinner at The Red Sage located within the hotel. We might even be joined by a surprise guest or two. The lobby and hallways of the Buffalo Thunder feature sculptures and paintings from contemporary Pueblo artists, including works by Roxanne, and a stained-glass centerpiece by her daughter Rose B. Simpson. Take ample time to browse as you walk through the hotel.

“Bandelier National Monument protects over 33,000 acres of rugged but beautiful canyon and mesa country as well as evidence of a human presence here going back over 11,000 years.  Petroglyphs, dwellings carved into the soft rock cliffs, and standing masonry walls pay tribute to the early days of a culture that still survives in the surrounding communities.” (National Park Service)


Days 3 and 4, 9/8-9/9: Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos

Taos Pueblo Residents 1890

Writers Mabel Dodge Luhan, Frieda Lawrence, Dorothy Brett

Watch the trailers on the making of the PBS film, Awakening in Taos


Our second two-night stay will be in Taos at the historic Mabel Dodge Luhan House. We will journey up the scenic high road from Pojoaque to Taos, stopping to visit El Sanctuary de Chimayó, a small shrine located in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and visited by thousands of pilgrims during Holy Week. Centuries ago, the Tewa Indians named Chimayo Tsi-Mayoh, after one of four sacred hills above the valley. We will have lunch at picturesque Rancho de Chamayó.

During our stay at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, where we’ll shift our creative focus from art to writing, celebrating the literary colonies of Taos and Santa Fe founded more than 100 years ago. In the spirit of Mabel, we’ll have our own literary salon, touching on the writing of Willa Cather, DH Lawrence, Mary Austin, Frank Waters, N. Scott Momaday, and others, with enough retreat time to settle into our own private writing space.

Our stay will also include a visit to the historic Taos Pueblo, inhabited by more than 150 of the 1,900 Taos Pueblo people who still live on the Taos Pueblo Land, which covers an expanse of 99,000 acres of high desert, and celebrates over 1,000 years of culture. The oral history of the Taos Pueblo People is extensive and an important part of their closely-held cultural heritage. Following our visit to the Pueblo, we’ll dine at a restaurant on the Plaza.

Tony Luhan by Edward Weston

"Before arriving in Taos, Mabel Dodge had become a prominent figure in the arts and society of New York City and Europe. Born to a wealthy family in Buffalo, New York, she entertained and supported many of the well-known artists, activists, writers and thinkers of her time. Her Salons were informal gatherings where the olitical and avant-garde joined to dine and to discuss the new ideas of the century, often forming relationships and fomenting ideas which would have far-reaching influences.

When Mabel left New York to settle in Taos and marry Tony Lujan, a full-blooded Taos Pueblo man, the whole world watched. During the 1930s, New Yorker Magazine cartoons quipped about Mabel in Taos, while set designs for Shakespeare productions on Broadway were based on adobe architecture. Georgia O’Keeffe, Willa Cather, Ansel Adams and others found inspiration that would shape their lives’ work while visiting Tony and Mabel’s home."

(The History of the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Attiyeh Foundation)

Days 5, 6 and 7, 9/10-9/12: The Hacienda at Hotel Santa Fe, Santa Fe

The Hacienda at Hotel Santa Fe

Lynn Clifford - Horse Meditation

Rose B. Simpson

John Gritts - Page Lambert

Nights five and six of our Autumn Sojourn will find us in Santa Fe, in the foothills of New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains where our journey north began. The drive from Taos to Santa Fe takes about two hours. The Hacienda, a lavish addition of the Native-owned Hotel Santa Fe (a development of the Picuris Pueblo Tribe), will be our home away from home. Our stay includes many amenities, such as a complimentary wine bar and appetizers prepared by the Hacienda chef each evening before we venture out for dinner. This will be our base on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday morning.

Our Santa Fe adventure includes an optional two-hour “Horse Meditation” retreat at the nearby Arrowhead Ranch with my friend, equestrian and life coach/counselor Lynn Clifford. More than a decade ago, Lynn (who comes from a long line of equestrians) led me through private Horses.Healing.Being session with her therapy horse Blue. This experience with Lynn and Blue inspired me to ask my friend Sheri Griffith if she would help me put together what has become our sell-out, “Wyoming Literature & Landscape of the Horse Retreat.” 2019 marks our 12th annual retreat! Lynn is a treasure.

We will also visit the famous Santa Fe Plaza, touring the Institute of American Indian Arts Museum (IAIA), and the galleries of Dan Namingha and Allan Haozuos (Houser). Dan was a classmate of John’s when they were both students at IAIA. Mr. Allan Houser, a renowned Chiricahua Apache artist, became one of America’s foremost modernist sculptors. At IAIA, John was fortunate enough for a short while to study under Mr. Houser.

After lunch at the world-famous La Fonda on the Plaza, we will head to the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian. There, we will view the mixed-media exhibits of artist Rose B. Simpson (Santa Clara Pueblo lineage), and the monoliths and illustrations of sculptor Bob Haozous (Warm Springs Chiricahua Apache). Renowned artists in their own right, they walk a modern path yet not without acknowledging their legendary roots. Rose is the daughter of Roxanne Swentzell. Bob is the son of Allan Houser. The Wheelwright exhibits were selected by First American Art Magazine as one of the “Top Ten Native American Art Events” of 2018. The architect who designed the Wheelwright Museum, not coincidentally, was married to poet Alice Corbin Henderson, one of the founders of the Santa Fe writer’s colony. Thus the literary theme continues!

Thursday, September 12th, marks our last morning in Santa Fe, and the final day of our Autumn Sojourn. After breakfast and our closing session, John has offered to provide an optional tour of the Institute of American Indian Arts campus, a 20-minute drive south. If you wish to stay overnight in Santa Fe on Night 7 (Thursday, Sept.12), please make your own lodging arrangements, as our group will be checking out of The Hacienda (Hotel Santa Fe) on the morning of Day 7.

"On your own" suggestions for the afternoon of Day 7 include:

  • Spa treatments at Hotel Santa Fe
  • Spa treatments at Ten Thousand Waves
  • Blue Rain Gallery near Hotel Santa Fe
  • Georgia O’Keeffe Museum near the Plaza
  • Collected Works Bookstore near the Plaza
  • The Cathedral Bassilica of St. Francis near the Plaza
  • Allan Houser Sculpture Garden (by appt. only / 20min. drive)

IAIA Hogan


Registration Details

Total Cost

The $1,950 per person retreat fee includes six nights of shared lodging (double occupancy): the first two nights at the Native-owned Hilton Buffalo Thunder Resort, the second two nights at the historic Mabel Dodge Luhan House, and the final two nights at the elegant Hacienda of Hotel Santa Fe (also Native-owned). Private accommodations might be possible for an additional fee.

Also included are all museum, gallery and park fees; carefully chosen dining experiences at select restaurants featuring the best southwestern and Pueblo cuisine; a private day with Santa Clara Pueblo artist Roxanne Swentzell; the equine meditation retreat; and all transportation during the retreat (John Gritts, my husband, will be our van driver).

Transportation to Santa Fe

Please make your own arrival and departure arrangements into and out of Santa Fe, New Mexico. You will need to be at the Hilton Buffalo Thunder Resort by 4pm on Friday, September 6, 2019. Here are a few options for traveling to Santa Fe:

  • Fly into Albuquerque and take the New Mexico Rail Runner train to Santa Fe (69 miles, around $18 round trip; the Airport Express bus/train connection will take you to the Santa Fe Railyard); or
  • Fly directly into Santa Fe Municipal Airport (10 miles from downtown) and take an airport shuttle to the Santa Fe Railyard.
  • The complimentary Hilton Buffalo Thunder shuttle picks up Friday passengers at the Santa Fe Railyard at 9:00am, 11:20am, 12:50am, 5:20pm, 6:15pm, and 8:50pm.
  • The Buffalo Thunder is 16 miles north of downtown Santa Fe. Directions

Payment Schedule/4 Installments

A $450 non-refundable deposit is due with registration. It is recommended that you register no later than April 1, 2019.Please consider purchasing trip insurance. Consumer Advocate recommends these 10 travel insurance companies. A second deposit of $500 is due June 1st. The third and final deposit of $1,000 is due July 15. Please download and read the Payment & Cancellation Policy.

The Santa Fe & Taos Autumn Sojourn is full. Please contact regarding the Wait List or email

Thank you.