Northern New Mexico College / El Rito Campus

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Located in historic northern New Mexico, surrounded by the Carson National Forest and situated near the Rio Chama, Northern New Mexico College’s El Rito campus is a place of rich local history and natural beauty.

Established by the New Mexico Territorial Legislature in 1909 as the Spanish American Normal School, the campus marks the site of the state’s oldest college. The Normal School, established with the charge of training teachers for New Mexico’s Spanish-speaking population reflects a deep connection between education, language and culture.

In 1953, the institution was renamed as the Northern New Mexico State School and served as a boarding school for grades 7 through 12. In 1977, the campus became Northern New Mexico Community College and in 2005, part of Northern New Mexico College.

Today, Northern at El Rito continues to serve as a center of instruction for both scientific learning and cultural traditions. It is home to Northern’s Spanish Colonial Woodworking program and the Weaving and Fiber Arts programs. It also serves as a retreat center and getaway for a diverse group of organizations and individuals wishing to experience the local culture and the peaceful atmosphere of a simpler time.

A Welcome from Site Committee and Northern New Mexico College President Nancy “Rusty” Barceló: “Dear Mom and Dad”

Helpful tips and things to note:

  • Summer temperatures in El Rito range from 50 to 95 degrees. We recommend that you bring sunscreen, a water bottle, and an extra layer for cool evenings.
  • El Rito is a rural area and there are no convenience stores nearby. If you require special food or products, we suggest strongly that you either bring them with you or purchase them in Santa Fe or Española before heading up to El Rito.
  • Santa Fe has several natural foods and specialty stores, including La Montanita Co-op, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s. If you are driving, take the St. Francis (285) turnoff from I-25 for easy access to these stores.
  • If you are sensitive to bug bites, we recommend bringing an insect repellent of your choice.
  • There are many wonderful trails and hikes you can take near the El Rito Campus. You may want to pack some rugged attire for these activities such as: sturdy walking shoes, a hat, rain gear, and durable pants.
  • There is a limited clinic in Abiquiu, 14 miles away, and a hospital with ambulance service in Española, approximately 35 miles away. If you have any medical concerns, please consult your physician before attending. Please be sure to bring along any medications you may need in an amount sufficient for your stay.
  • Cell phone service and Wi-Fi is available in across Northern’s EL Rito Campus, and there are landlines in the College offices from 8-5 each day.
  • The El Rito Campus highlights the natural beauty of northern New Mexico; we encourage you to bring your camera or your sketchbook!