Is Santuario de Chimayó Worth Visiting? (2024)

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Have you been wondering if Santuario de Chimayó is worth visiting? We’ve got you covered with everything we know from our day trip there!

Santuario de Chimayó is one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in the US, with almost 300,000 visitors each year.

The shrine here is a National Historical Landmark that was originally built in 1813.

It’s an especially popular place to visit during Holy Week for Catholics, which is the week leading up to Easter each Spring.

The significance of Santuario de Chimayó is that the dirt here is said to have healing power, so hundreds of thousands of visitors pass through each year to get some for themselves or others who cannot make the pilgrimage.

Santuario de Chimayo on a map, just north of Santa Fe
Image Courtesy of Google Maps

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Is Santuario de Chimayó Worth Visiting?

If you find yourself in the Santa Fe, New Mexico area, Santuario de Chimayó is absolutely worth visiting.

I was very pleasantly surprised with how nice the church and adjacent chapel were considering how relatively unknown this place is to the general public.

When we visited, hardly anyone else was there, so it was nice to explore the place on our own.

We’ve visited a variety of Catholic historical places of significance like the missions in California, Tucson, and El Paso, but this was quite different.

If you visit, you should also visit the small chapel for sick children where visitors have left mementos and prayers, which makes sense to have at a pilgrimage site like this known for it’s healing dirt.

No photos are allowed of the chapel, so you’ll have to check it out for yourself!

Overall, it’s just a peaceful, historic, middle of nowhere experience.

Santuario de Chimayo - shrine and welcome center

Santuario de Chimayó Day Trip Itinerary

If you’re visiting from Santa Fe, it’s a short 30 mile drive out to Santuario de Chimayo.

map of driving route from Santa Fe to Santuario de Chimayo
Image Courtesy of Google Maps

There’s not much in-between the two, but the High Road to Taos is quite scenic in some areas.

the drive in to Santuario de Chimayo

If you’re driving in from Taos, it’s a little bit longer of a drive at just over an hour long.

route from Taos to Santuario de Chimayo
Image Courtesy of Google Maps

Visiting Hours + Mass Schedule

Santuario de Chimayó and it’s gift shop are open every day from 9 am – 5 pm.

Everything is open year round, except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.

Depending on the time of day you plan to visit, you have a few options on what all you can do.

Welcome to Santuario de Chimayo sign

If no masses or events are going on, you are free to tour the shrine, chapel, and grounds.

Remember to always be courteous of other visitors who may be praying in the shrine or in the chapel.

There is a welcome center where you can get more information about the site that is open from 10 am – 4 pm each day.

Gift Shop at Santuario de Chimayo

Mass is held daily at 11 am at the chapel, except on Sundays it’s at 12 pm.

There is an additional 10:30 am mass on Sundays in Spanish.

So if you want to attend a mass during your visit here, you’ll need to visit during those times.

There is also a priest available onsite for confessions and blessings from 9:30 am – 12:00 pm and 2:30 pm – 5:00 pm, unless they are doing any home visits or emergency visits.

chapel at Santuario de Chimayo
chapel at Santuario de Chimayo

Touring The Shrine & Chapel

The shrine and chapel are both pretty small in comparison to your typical Catholic church.

You are generally free to come and go from each as you please.

In the chapel there are no photos allowed inside and there are many signs posted around, so you’ll know what you can and can’t take photos of.

The shrine is the main building that is the center of this site and the one you see in most photos.

There are several vantage points where you can get really nice photos of the shrine.

Seeing it up close really puts into perspective how old and historic this place really is.

shrine at Santuario de Chimayo

Touring the Grounds

There are a handful of burial sites on the grounds of Santuario de Chimayó.

There are also gardens you can walk around that have a variety of sculptures and decor.

As you walk around the grounds, you can visit the gift shop, welcome center, and cafeteria.

When we visited, we were here for maybe an hour or so.

Depending on if you want to attend a mass, speak to a priest, or eat while you’re here, you can add more time to how long you think it’ll take you to fully explore everything you want to see.

Santuario de Chimayo

Santuario de Chimayó Holy Dirt

The way this site came to be is that it had been a known healing site for natives that used to inhabit the area because of the hot springs that used to exist here.

Then in 1810, once the Spanish began colonizing this area, a man named Bernardo Abeyta saw something shiny up in the hills, so he decided to dig it out.

He found a crucifix buried in the dirt and notified the local priest who took it back to a mission in Santa Cruz.

The next day the crucifix was gone and back in Chimayó.

After this happened several times, they decided to build a chapel here dedicated to this miracle that kept occurring, because clearly that is where the crucifix was meant to stay.

Knowing the dirt here had been used for healing for generations, they began to do the same at this chapel.

It could be mixed with water to make mud and rubbed onto someone’s skin to heal any ailment.

At one point in time people would eat the mud too, but I’m not sure I can legally recommend that you do that.

chapel at Santuario de Chimayo

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions we see about visiting Santuario de Chimayó.

Why do people go to Chimayó?

For those that go to Santuario de Chimayó as part of a pilgrimage are typically going to collect the holy dirt to rub on themselves or someone else who is sick.

Many people go on pilgrimages for a variety of reasons though, so there may be more reasons than just the obvious.

Others that visit Santuario de Chimayó may just be road tripping around New Mexico like this and want to visit historic sites that are nearby.

So if you feel like you don’t have this huge calling that’s leading you to go here, that’s totally fine because there will be plenty of others that are also visiting just because.

Santuario de Chimayo

How many people walk to Chimayó?

The overall number of visitors each year is about 300,000 people, but most visitors just drive in for the day.

Generally, those that are making the pilgrimage to Chimayó (aka walking) visit during Holy Week.

The number of visitors during Holy Week is typically about 60,000.

I’ve seen some estimates that about 40,000 people actually do the walk.

stations of the cross at Santuario de Chimayo

How far is the Chimayó pilgrimage?

The official Holy Week pilgrimage celebration at Chimayó just takes place on the church grounds.

Individuals and organizations can form their own pilgrimage to Chimayó in preparation for this event though.

It’s common for groups to walk from Santa Fe (30 miles), Española (7 miles), and even some from Albuquerque (70 miles) to Chimayó.

prayer spot in Santuario de Chimayo

Where To Stay Near Chimayó: Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder Casino Resort

Consider staying at the Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder Casino Resort during your trip!

It’s on the way back toward Santa Fe, but only 20 minutes from Santuario de Chimayó.

Since it’s a casino and a resort there are a ton of amenities like a restaurant, pool, free parking, and an art gallery.

Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder Casino Resort

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Resources For Planning Your Trip To Santuario de Chimayó

If you need help planning your trip to Santuario de Chimayó, check out our Tips For Planning A Trip To Anywhere (A Step-By-Step Guide).

Read our Best Tips For Staying Safe When Traveling During Extreme Weather if you’re traveling during the extreme heat in Summer or the snow in Winter.

Also check out our Best Tips For Staying Well While You Travel if you’re prone to getting colds or have allergies when you travel or have other ailments.

Lastly, if you’re traveling on a budget, read up on our Best Tips For Traveling On A Budget: Your Guide To Planning An Affordable Trip.

More Fun Things To Do In New Mexico

Below are some other nearby attractions that are our favorite places to visit in New Mexico.

Pecos National Historical Park

Pecos is just on the other side of Santa Fe from Santuario de Chimayó, only about an hour away.

It’s another hidden gem that most visitors to the area don’t go to, but it’s so worth visiting.

Pecos National Historical Park in New Mexico

Gila Cliff Dwellings

Over in Southwest New Mexico are the Gila Cliff Dwellings.

This place is so fun to climb around the caves and spend some time outdoors.

Gila Cliff Dwellings in New Mexico

Guadalupe Mountains To Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Over in Southeast New Mexico is Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

Just on the other side of the border is Guadalupe Mountains National Park, so these two make a perfect itinerary for a weekend getaway.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park welcome sign

The Best New Mexico Road Trip Itinerary

If you want to see all of the above plus a little bit more of New Mexico, I highly recommend this road trip itinerary.

Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico

Conclusion: Is Santuario de Chimayó Worth Visiting?

Santuario de Chimayó, whether you’re visiting for religious reasons or just as a tourist, is such a unique place to visit.

You can visit with 60,000 others during Holy Week or visit any other time of year and possibly have the whole place to yourself just like we did!