Placitas Land and Homes
About Placitas
Placitas Land and Homes - Photo of Sandia Mountain ©2002 Gary W. Priester

Placitas, New Mexico
Lots of Little Places We Call Home

Placitas, Spanish for “little places”, is a collection of unique communities nestled in the foothills at the north end of the Sandia Mountain range. “The mountain” is one of the major focal points visible from all areas of Placitas and reaches heights of 11 thousand feet. (Placitas averages around 5,600 feet above sea level).

Capped in a mantle of snow in winter, green and verdant in spring, cloaked in billowing thunder clouds in summer, and topped off with the bright yellow leaves of the Aspen trees in fall, Sandia Mountain provides a treat for the eyes and joy to the soul 365 days of the year.

Placitas Land and Homes - Photo of Cabezon Sunset ©2002 Gary W. Priester

The Giant’s Head

Looking to the west, a little south of the mesas is Cabezon, a Spanish name given to this ancient volcanic protrusion which means giant’s head. As you drive west down Highway 165, the road that passes though the center of the Placitas community, Cabezon does indeed resemble a giant forehead that drops and eventually disappears over the western horizon as you get closer to the bottom of the hill.

It is hard to believe the area, which is a mile high, was under an ocean millions of years ago. But geologists assure us it was and that Cabezon grew from the ocean’s floor eventually pressing up and outward as it surfaced and thrust up above the water’s surface.

Placitas Land and Homes - Photo of CabezonThe great Caldera which sits atop the Jemez Mountains to the north west of Placitas, and is some 15 miles across, was also once the mouth of an ancient volcano.

Around the time of the summer solstice, depending where in Placitas you happen to be, the sun sets directly behind the giant’s head adding a spectacular halo. Cabezon and Sandia Mountain are two powerful and beautiful peaks that make for some of the most breathtaking views you will see anywhere n the world.

Placitas—A Brief History

Required reading for any new resident of Placitas is Las Placitas - Historical Facts and Legends by Lou Sage Batchen. Republished in 2000 by the Friends of Placitas, Inc. this book tells of the rich history of the Placitas area. (For more information on the Friends of Placitas, e-mail wessely@scisco.com)

The village of Placitas, located in the center of the 1745 San Antonio de Las Huertas land grant, was an early home to Spanish settlers drawn perhaps by the areas fresh spring waters and fertile soil. (Las Huertas is Spanish for the Gardens).

Long before the Spanish arrived, the area was home to the Anasazi (the ancient ones), who lived in New Mexico between 800 and 1200 AD.

Artifacts and Petroglyphs have been found in the area and in the surrounding hills. It has also been established that the early Native Americans farmed the soils of the Placitas area.

A few miles east of the village of Placitas, just off the dirt portion of Highway 165, is Sandia Man Cave where prehistoric spear points were discovered in 1936 by Dr. Frank Hibben establishing the presence of man in this area some 12,000 years ago.

Today the village of Placitas remains with various communities branching out in all directions.

Placitas Land and Homes - Photo of Placitas and Mesas ©2002 Gary W. Priester

The Land

Placitas is high desert country. The buff colored hillsides are dotted with piñon and Juniper trees. Because the average yearly rainfall is around one foot (this translates into on average 300 days of brilliant sunshine) the vegetation is sparse and the native trees rarely reach heights above 20 feet. It is not uncommon to see a Piñon pine and Juniper tree growing together in the same spot. A symbiotic relationship that benefits both species.

Homes in Placitas blend in seamlessly with the color of the land. And taking their cue from the sparse vegetation, homes are spread out from one another a comfortable distance. Close enough for a feeling of security and community, far enough apart for a sense of privacy. (No cheek-by-jowl lifestyle here!).

The photo above was taken during the summer “monsoon” season and looks north west across the dramatic mesas towards the Jemez Mountains. The green band in front of the mesas are the Cottonwood trees in the Bosque that pinpoints the location of the Rio Grande River, minutes away from Placitas.

Placitas Land and Homes - Photo of Pink Lighting ©2002 Gary W. PriesterThe Weather in Placitas

The weather in Placitas is delightful. Summer days begin cool, getting quite warm in the mid afternoon, then cooling down most pleasantly at night.

The monsoon weather is dramatic and the monsoon season is the favorite season of many who live in Placitas. The days begin cool, sunny and clear with hardly a cloud in sight. As morning progresses, fabulous cloud formations billow upwards into the heavens. Afternoon frequently brings thunderstorms with showy displays of lightning accompanied by booming thunder.


Often at night, sitting on the deck or lounging around the patio enjoying the fragrant evening air and marveling at yet another exquisite New Mexico sunset—the temperature is delightful after sunset—one can see distant thunderstorms over the Jemez Mountains and the Sangre de Christo mountains behind Santa Fe to the north.

These visually stimulating light shows often go from sunset and continue until well past midnight with spectacular displays of lightning of every size, shape and color. More spectacular still is when the lightning is hidden behind a cloud and the cloud illuminates like a giant alabaster shape. Although Placitas has cable TV and cable modem Internet access, with entertainment like this, who needs TV and the Internet?

Placitas Land and Homes - Photo of Snow on Sandia

Winter in Placitas is a cozy time for sitting around the fireplace or enjoying the winter sports offered in the area. (There is great skiing at the top of Sandia Mountain, not to mention the other world class ski areas around Taos and Santa Fe).

The night time temperatures fall to the teens but warm up during the days. The Winter sun is brilliant and warms the temperatures. Snow falls from time to time and is quite magical when it does occur.

Placitas Land and Homes - Photo of Spring WildflowersAnd that leaves spring and fall which are equally spectacular. You can see photos of the seasons in the Photo Album section.

All photos on this page ©2002 Gary W. Priester