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Paint Out. Western NM. Host-Michael Chesley Johnson

  • 20 Mar 2021
  • 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
  • Narrows Picnic Area, South of Grants
  • 0


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Narrows Picnic Area Paintout

Date:  Saturday, March 20, 2021

Time:  Meet at 10 a.m.

Location: Narrows Picnic Area, NM-117, South of Grants


  1. From westbound I-40, Grants, NM 87020
  2. Head northwest on Exit 89 toward NM-117 E, 0.3 mi
  3. Turn left onto NM-117 E, 21.6 mi
  4. Turn left, destination will be on the right

This is 22 miles south of Grants on NM-117 from Exit 89 on I-40.  About 1.5 hours from the Coors Blvd/I-40 intersection in Albuquerque.

Here is the route, from I-40 in Grants:

Host:  Michael Chesley Johnson,  , 505-303-0702

What to Expect:  The parking lot is large.  There are pit toilets and picnic shelters.

The Narrows is a small pass between the El Malpais lava fields on the west and the sandstone mesa on the right.  Although you can paint from the parking area, I like to hike a little up the trail (first section is a little steep but easy footing and 5 minutes to the flat top) for better views.  Lots of rocks and twisted trees atop the mesa for material; also the view of the El Malpais, but that's more flat and not as interesting.  Besides this, there is also Sandstone Bluffs (will be on your right 13 miles before getting to the Narrows) with nice views.  Also, 5 miles south of the picnic area, the La Ventana Arch.   We will meet at the Narrows picnic area and paint there to start.  Later in the day, we may wander down to La Ventana or back up to the Sandstone Bluffs.

If you would like to make this an overnight trip, there is dry camping at the Joe Skeen Campground.  (On the east side of 117, not too far from the now-closed BLM Ranger Office.)  Beautiful views from this, but it fills up quickly in the day.  This site - – tells you more about the camping and the area in general.

The Plan:  We'll meet at 10 a.m. Plan on painting all day and bring a bag lunch.  If you need help getting to the site, Michael Chesley Johnson's phone number is 505-303-0702.  He will be on-site at 9:30 to greet everyone.  Look for a green Subaru Outback.

For more information about paintout protocol visit the NEW Paint Outs page.

We will be watching for changes in the New Mexico Covid guidelines to be in compliance with them and will let you know when they change. For now we know:

  1. Masks are required even if you have had the vaccine
  2. At least 6-10 feet apart
  3. “Avoid crowds” 
  4. Cars also should be parked six feet apart
  5. Any visitors from out-of-state must self-quarantine for two weeks.

But since the parking is somewhat limited we will be setting a limit on the number of registrants. We will keep a wait-list. And please do write to Michael as indicated, with any questions, but also to let him know of your interest. And the registration list will be available to all as well.

Safe painting, everyone.

Note  before you complete your paint out registration you will need to check the box asserting that during this pandemic, the Plein Air Painters of New Mexico is released from covid-related liability.

You may also download the Covid liability release here:


*Non-members will need to agree to this additional release of liability also (sent by email after registration):  Non-members Release of Liability.

Mail information to:  
P. O. Box 20503
Albuquerque, NM

Mail Payments  to:  
PAPNM Treasurer
P. O. Box 20503
Albuquerque, NM

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