Visit an Alpaca Ranch

For a hands-on experience that will be both fascinating and fun, set aside the second Sunday of some month for a visit to Alpacas de Santa Fe, an honest-to-goodness breeding farm for the gentle, intelligent, clean, friendly creature known as the alpaca.

A member of the camelid family-which includes camels, llamas and vicunas-the alpaca stands about 36 inches tall at the withers, weighs about 150 pounds, and produces the finest natural fiber for clothing in all the world. The Alpacas de Santa Fe ranch, one of three major such operations in New Mexico, welcomes visitors and is eager to spread the word about these animals, whose fleece is superior to wool in almost every way.

On Open Ranch Sundays, visitors get a tour of the operation and learn a great deal about the alpaca. If desired, you can help with the chores, and you most certainly may pet an alpaca. This is wholesome outdoor fun for the whole family.

Alpacas de Santa Fe is located just a few miles south of Santa Fe, at 29 Calvin Road, slightly east of State Highway 14. Call ahead at 505-471-9164 to let co-owners Bonnie Samuel and Bill DeBois know you are coming, and to get directions. Scheduled Open Ranch dates for the rest of the year 2001 are July 15, Aug. 12, Sept. 9 and Oct. 14.

Alpacas de Santa Fe has scheduled a Breeders' Fiber Clinic, featuring noted international fiber judge Amanda VandenBosch, for the weekend of August 25-26, at the ranch a few miles south of town. Participants will learn to distinguish superior fiber characteristics, and will gain proficiency in selecting alpacas for purchasing, breeding and producing fiber. The program, which runs from 9 to 5 on Saturday and 9 to 3 on Sunday, includes on-animal and off-animal fiber demonstrations. The cost is $125 per person for both days, with lunch and coffee breaks included. Seating is limited to only about 35 people, so advance reservations are recommended. To make them or to get more information, call Bonnie Samuel at 505-471-9164, or visit

For more information about alpacas and this ranch, read the article titled Alpacas de Santa Fe in the Stories section of or visit

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