Santa Fe, the capitol of New Mexico, is a southwestern haven for photographers. It was originally founded in 1610 as a Spanish colony, and you can still see that heritage in the pueblo style architecture. There is also plenty of natural beauty surrounding Santa Fe.
We begged for help from many outstanding photographers, bloggers, locals and Instagrammers to compile this amazing list of photo spots in or near Santa Fe. After you have seen all these examples, be sure to check out our other Instagram and photographer guides here.
To help your planning, we included a map and quick list of the best photo spots in Santa Fe:
- Canyon Road
- Loretto Chapel
- San Miguel Mission
- St. Francis Cathedral
- Inn of the Turquoise Bear
- Inn and Spa at Loretto
- Santa Fe Ski Basin
- El Santuario de Chimayo
- Santa Fe Farmer’s Market
- Rio Grande Gorge Bridge
- Santa Fe Railyard
- Ghost Ranch
- Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument
- Meow Wolf
- Burro Alley
- Embudo Classical Gas Museum
- Historic Santa Fe Plaza
- El Rancho de las Golondrinas
- Aspen Vista
- Cross of the Martyrs
- Bandelier National Monument
- Anderson Scenic Overlook
- White Rock Overlook
Canyon Road is an art district in Santa Fe chock full of art galleries and studios. You can find a good amount of Native American and Latino art, but there is also other regional, contemporary and international art to be found.
Canyon Road is about a 10 minute walk from the Santa Fe Plaza, featured later, but the road runs for a good distance so you will want to pick a good parking spot in the middle so it is easier to explore more.
The big draw from a photographic standpoint is the collection of unique doors, gates and buildings that make up the galleries. This is especially great if you are traveling with family since they will have stores and galleries to explore while you are shooting.
This first shot, from photographer Linda Wabanimkee Matson, highlights the classic adobe architecture you can find, and who doesn’t love those sticks in the door?
This next image, from Fragile Glory Impressions, shows more local architecture with a great little unique entrance.
You can see more of the great local architecture in the following image from Klay Drageset.
The Loretto Chapel is a former Roman Catholic church that is now a museum. You can see the beautiful gothic exterior in the image below from Lucas Wade Palmer.
Another beautiful shot of the exterior that shows the whole building comes from J Rockwood Photography.
While the exterior is great, the interior is the big draw of the Loretto Chapel and that is due to the Miracle Staircase. A secret to getting a good shot of the staircase is to wait around after closing time because they don’t actually kick people out until 15 minutes after closing time.
The beautiful interior with the Miracle Staircase can be seen in the below image from photographer Robert Pineda.
For a closer view of the incredible staircase, look at the image below from Instagrammers Howren Family Travels.
San Miguel Mission
Santa Fe’s San Miguel Mission is a Spanish colonial mission built in 1610 though it was rebuilt multiple times in the 18th Century. It is touted as the oldest church in the United States. It is also part of the Barrio De Analco Historic District, which is a U.S. National Historic Landmark.
The Mission is especially beautiful in the evening light, as you can see in the image below from Instagrammer Santa Fe Everywhere.
Another image of the Mission, this one comes from traveler Heather Hanson.
St. Francis Cathedral
The St. Francis Cathedral, officially Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, is a Roman Catholic cathedral in downtown Santa Fe. The Cathedral was completed in 1886, but it was built on the site of earlier churches.
The beautiful blue hour shot of the Cathedral below comes from Alex.
The Cathedral is also beautiful in the daytime, as you can see in the below image from local blogger Margo.
The interior of the Cathedral is also quite striking with the bright whites and dark browns. The image below was provided by photographer Robert Pineda.
Finally, the funky columns outside the Cathedral are a can’t miss photo opportunity. You can see them in the image below from Ekaterina.
Inn of the Turquoise Bear
It may not be easily accessible if you aren’t staying there, but the Inn of the Turqoise Bear is a beautiful bed & breakfast featuring an adobe estate nestled among the pine trees with mountain views.
You can see the beautiful Inn in the image below from traveler Rob J.
Here is another more intimate view from a beautiful wedding. The image was provided by talented local photographer Kayla Kitts.
Inn and Spa at Loretto
The Inn and Spa at Loretto is a luxury boutique hotel located, unsurprisingly, right next to the Loretto Chapel, a block from the historic plaza downtown.
The amazing architecture is quite stunning, as you can see in the image below from travel blogger Tansen.
You can see even more of the Inn’s design in the fun image below from New Mexico realtor and blogger Margo Tapia.
The courtyard at the Inn is also a great spot for a photograph, as you can see in the below image from popular blogger Rachel Chen.
Santa Fe Ski Basin
If you want to get a shot skiing, this is the place to go. You can see the beautiful snow and view in the image below from Kristie Whitmore.
I love this shot below from Lilly Fowler, showing all the snow-covered trees.
Another great shot from the ski basin, this one from Instagrammer @court.thornton shows the fantastic views.
Don’t count out the Ski Basin just because it isn’t ski season. Just look at this fantastic fall-colors image from Cici Vendetti.
El Santuario de Chimayo
El Santuario de Chimayo is both a pilgrimage site and a United States National Historic Landmark. With over 300,000 visitors per year, it has been called the most important Catholic pilgrimage site in the United States. The Roman Catholic church is located in Chimayo, about 30 minutes north of Santa Fe.
You can see the beautiful church in the image below from Akshay Mhatre.
It is hard to beat El Santuario de Chimayo in the snow with fall colors, as you can see in the image below from Olga Lou Photography.
The good views don’t stop once you get inside the courtyard, as you can see in the image below from local blogger Carol Denise.
You can spend a lot of time on the grounds of the church, capturing beautiful images like this one from Cindi Lee.
Santa Fe Farmer’s Market
The Santa Fe Farmer’s Market is held every Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Santa Fe Railyard. As you can see in the image below from Ashley Higley, there are plenty of fresh foods to pose with at the Farmer’s Market.
Since it is Santa Fe, you don’t want to visit the Farmer’s Market without seeing huge amounts of dried chili peppers, like you can see in the image below from Linda Schultz-Holt.
Rio Grande Gorge Bridge
The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge is about 90 minutes north of Santa Fe by the city of Taos. Both the bridge and the gorge it spans are worth the drive. The 1,280 foot long steel deck arch bridge stands 600 feet above the Rio Grande River.
There are great photo opportunities of the bridge and the gorge. Tim Trujillo captured the beautiful shot below of the bridge.
In the image below, Amy Krynicki was able to get the bridge and the Rio Grande River in the same shot.
Posing on the bridge, Instagrammer Tiffanie & the Vanimal vanlife captured a great shot of the river and gorge.
Santa Fe Railyard
It is worth visiting the Santa Fe Railyard even when the Farmer’s Market is not going on. The Railyard is full of fun photo opportunities.
The train station itself is a great place to start, as you can see in the image below from Marina Alba.
Even the side of the station can make a good shot, as shown below in the image from Instagrammer @caitgalla.
You can also find fun-colored rail cars to pose with. Just look at the image below from Amina Fix Venson.
The tower at the Railyard is a great backdrop. You can see it in the image below from violinist Gabi S. Holzwarth.
Finally, if nothing else from the Railyard strikes your fancy, check out the art exhibits in the image below from Alex Rovang.
Ghost Ranch is about an hour northwest of Santa Fe near the town of Abiquiu. Ghost Ranch is both an inn and conference center, but it is all about the arts and great landscapes.
Ghost Ranch is somewhat renown because it is where famous artist Georgia O’Keefe painted much of her most popular work. There are great hiking trails all over the Ranch so be sure to come ready for it.
I love this great shot of the ranch and surrounding landscape from photographer Deanne Solveig Coles.
If hiking isn’t your thing, you can enjoy a horseback ride and capture a beautiful shot like the one below from reporter Miranda Green.
You can have a lot of fun and really just embrace the ranch aspect to enhance your shots with the landscape. Check out the shot below from Khedija Sassi.
More beautiful landscape from Ghost Ranch can be seen in the image below from Olesia.
Chimney Rock is one of the most popular hikes at Ghost Ranch. You can see it below in the shot from Stacy Claye.
If you have it in you to hike up to a good vantage point, you will be treated to the amazing view you see in the image below from Laura Acosta.
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument
Tent Rocks is located about 40 minutes southwest of Santa Fe. Kasha-Katuwe means “white cliffs” in the Pueblo language Kerasan. You would expect, there are plenty of white cliffs, but you will also see many other great geological formations.
The unique tent-shaped rocks are the obvious draw. You can see them in detail in the image below from Joseph Eiserman.
In the shot below from travel blogger Jimie, you can see the white cliffs that surround the tent rocks.
In addition to the tent rocks, you can find some great toadstool hoodoos. For the best photos, you really want to go in the late afternoon to get the directional light and stay for sunset. You can see why in the image below from Instagrammer Transit Passports.
I love the view from the top you can see in the image below from Sarah Denise.
While the tent rocks and cliffs may be the star of the show, be ready for some great slot canyons too. I always love shooting slot canyons and you can see a great one in the image below from Lilli Gordon.
In this final shot from Tent Rocks, from Hsiao-Tung Lo, you get some slot canyon, tent rocks and great detail in the striations of the rock.
Meow Wolf, located in Southwest Santa Fe, is the home of large scale, immersive art installations. It is tailor made for fun photo opportunities.
You can see one of the funky installations in the image below from Addie Lynn.
Another cool installation could have you climbing out of a refrigerator like Tessa Law in the image below.
Burro Alley is fun historical location where people used to cart in firewood on burros to sell in this Alley, which was full of saloons and brothels waiting to collect the money. It is located west of the Plaza, between Sandoval/Palace and San Francisco, next to the Lensic Performing Arts Center.
Santa Fe has turned the alley into a tourist attraction. You can see the burro painting in the alley in the image below from Ruth Sanz.
The city has also erected a statue commemorating the burros. You can see it below from Melody Mennite Walsh.
Another image showing the famous burro comes from Iroda Gazieva.
Embudo Classical Gas Museum
The Embudo Classical Gas Museum is located about 45 minutes north of Santa Fe and makes a great roadside stop for any photographer.
The privately owned collection includes antique gas pumps, signs, oil cans, globes, maps and other antiques.
One of the best photo spots is the 3 matching pumps located in front of the museum. You can see them in the image below from photographer Anthony Barlich.
You can see another angle of this location in the image below from Photographer Barry B. Brown.
Posing with the gas pumps helps show their size, as they are a lot bigger than they look. You can see an example below from Instagrammer Irina @breseida27.
In another one from Irina, you can see more of the pumps and tank as an example of the excellent condition of the antiques.
Historic Santa Fe Plaza
The Santa Fe Plaza is the in the heart of the historical downtown area of Santa Fe. It is right near many of the attractions discussed herein. It is a great area for walking with restaurants, boutique shops, bookstores and galleries all around.
As you can see in the image below from Chloë Little Deer Thurston, the old public library is a beautiful place for a portrait.
There is plenty of beautiful southwestern architecture in the plaza, as you can see in the image below of the Palace of the Governors from traveler Kimberly Man.
The Historical Plaza is especially charming during the Christmas season. One of the many benches in the square makes for a great photo op, as you see in the image below from Instagrammer @jayyysassy_.
Another image of the beautiful lights comes from Bhavya Pandey Wingert.
For good measure, one final beautiful image from Rebecca Valasquez.
El Rancho de las Golondrinas
El Rancho de las Golondrinas is a historic ranch turned living history museum located 20 minutes southwest of Santa Fe near the airport. There are a ton of places to make great photographs. The entrance fee is $6 for 12 and older, free for kids, unless you are attending the Renaissance Fair in September.
Marina Alba shows off one of the great many photos spots in the image below.
Another beautiful spot is the water wheel in the image below from Instagrammer My Scenic Escapes.
If you are looking for great portrait backdrops, they are everywhere to be found. I love the drama added by the wooden post, cracking adobe and old window in the beautiful portrait below of a model from Meena Mahal, whose line of clothing you can find locally in Santa Fe at Poetic Threads.
The Aspen Vista Trail is a beautiful trail located about 30 minutes northwest of Santa Fe near the Ski Basin. The trail is great year round, but is especially beautiful in the fall, as you can see in the below image from Instagrammer @lulu41585.
More beautiful aspen trees in fall colors from traveler Tiff.
I love the view below from Sonja Matijašević that contrasts the green trees with the huge patch of yellow aspens.
This next shot comes from a bit later in the season from the Hiking Photographer @lilyhong_.
You don’t get the yellow leaves in winter, but the white aspen trees in the snow is quite beautiful, as you can see in the image below from Clara G.
Cross of the Martyrs
The Cross of the Martyrs, located northwest of the historical downtown of Santa Fe, is a little bit of hike to reach, but offers sweeping views of the Plaza.
You can get a good feel of the size of the cross in the image below from Hether Bearinger.
As you can see in this image from Carley Önder, the Cross is a beautiful place to enjoy the sunset.
Another sunset shot comes from @kimaragon.
The final shot, from Meredith Gray, shows a different angle with a beautiful sunset.
Bandelier National Monument
Bandelier National Monument is located about an hour northwest of Santa Fe. It is 33,000 acres of mesas, viewpoints, canyons and archeological sites.
The magnificent cave dwellings are the main draw and you can see a good number of them in the image below from traveling RVer Michael Knight.
The wooden ladders leading into the caves make for the perfect photo, like the one below from Instagrammer Jai.
The ladders can make the perfect leading lines in a foreground leading to a great shot like the following from Mari.
The steep canyon walls are also make for a beautiful image, as you can see in the image below from travel blogger Fellow Farer True.
There is not much more I love than a good waterfall and the one below is great. The beautiful image was provided by Seth Gayner.
Clinton P. Anderson Scenic Overlook
The Anderson Overlook is located about 30 minutes northwest of Santa Fe on the way to Bandelier National Monument. It is an easy roadside stop so it is definitely worth it if you are in the area. Obviously, evening light and morning light are going to be ideal.
You can see the overlook with some snow in the image below from local nurse Allie.
Another shot of the Anderson Overlook was provided by from musician Sheryl Lynn.
The overlook at sunset is stunning as you can see in the image below from Instagrammer Los Alamos True.
White Rock Overlook Park
White Rock Overlook Park is a fantastic place to get a good shot of the Rio Grande River. It is located east of Los Alamos, about 45 minutes northwest of Santa Fe on the road to Bandelier National Monument.
For the best photo spot, you want to drive all the way to the end of the park. Don’t even waste time at the stops in the park until you reach the end.
The view is quite stunning with winter snow, as you can see in the image below from Haylea Nisbet.
The rock edges provide lots of good placed to sit for a portrait, like the one below from Instagrammer Elegant Renegade.
Another shot showing how beautiful the view is at sunset. This one was provided by Ricky Wagner.
Finally, I loved this shot at the overlook from Samantha Aumack.
Tell us where we missed!
If you have been to Santa Fe and loved something that we missed, please leave a comment on our Facebook Group. You can also share images or experiences from any of these places. We hope you get the chance to visit Santa Fe and enjoy some of these spots!