New Mexico has so many hidden delights if you just know where to look. The Casa Grande Trading Post, in the tiny town of Cerrillos, is one of those out-of-the-way attractions that could easily be missed. If you traveling New Mexico State Road 14 or just want an easy, inexpensive day trip, stop in.
The Casa Grande Trading Post is a lot more than a store.
Located in the historic mining village of Cerrillos, The Casa Grande Trading Post, Mining Museum & Petting Zoo has the proverbial "something for everyone." The vibe is low-key and home-grown, but that adds to the charm of the quirky attraction.
Even before you enter the building, you get a glimpse what's in store.
Vintage mining equipment is on view outside. Shelves of old bottles fill the windows and glass insulators line the adobe's flat roof. As you walk up to the porch, signs promising "tourist information" assure visitors that they want to come inside.
The centerpiece of the trading post is a 28-room adobe hacienda.
With the help of family and friends, trading post proprietors, Todd and Patricia Brown crafted the building themselves. They even handmade the 65,000 adobe "mud" bricks that formed the structure. Six of the 28 rooms now house the trading post and mining museum.
The trading post is a browser's delight.
Tables of rocks and minerals, from New Mexico and all over, dominate the trading post floor. Hand-painted hubcaps and magnets are located closer to the walls. Lucky horseshoes beckon from a floor stand. Nearby, self-published pamphlets wave amid other affordable trinkets and pottery.
Real gems hide among the tourist bric-a-brac.
Once you've made a once over of the store, come back to the jewelry counter and look for the turquoise pendants. The gems are authentic Cerrillos turquoise mined from the Browns' own "Little Chalchihuitl" mine and other nearby claims. Todd Brown cuts the stones and hand-sets them in sterling silver.
The mining museum is a home-grown look at local history.
For a small fee, venture beyond the main rooms into the mining museum. Comprised of cast off relics collected from the surrounding village and hand-built displays, the museum offers a unique look at the area's mining history. Rocks, bottles, tools, insulators, and assorted antiques fill out the collection.
No matter what you tell yourself, you will want to feed the animals.
Grab a bag of animal kibble ($2 per bag in the trading post) and feed the goats budging at the petting zoo fence. Various birds may wander between their feet and nibble up the leftovers. Most likely, the resident llama will amble over and demand his share too.
After the goats and llama have eaten all your critter chow, be sure to take in the views.
Because the trading post is at the edge of the town, it offers great views of the surrounding canyon, arroyo, and hills. Find the Casa Grande Trading Post 17 Waldo Street, in Cerrillos. It's 20 miles south of Santa Fe on New Mexico 14 (the Turquoise Trail).
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