2023 IP Retreat FAQ

2023 Indigenous Peoples' Retreat FAQ  What are the most important things I need to know when coming to Vallecitos? Everyone...

2023 Indigenous Peoples’ Retreat FAQ 

What are the most important things I need to know when coming to Vallecitos?

  1. Everyone who attends retreats at Vallecitos must agree to our Covid Safety Measures prior to arrival. (See COVID Safety Measures here)
  2. There is no cell service at or around the retreat center.
  3. There is no electricity in accommodations.
  4. Walking paths are steep and rocky.
  5. The nearest hospital is 1.5 hours away. Bring your meds and consult your doctor about high elevation concerns (we’re at 8,800 feet).
  6. If you have a CPAP, call us at 505-469-9017 or email us refuge@vallecitos.org so we can go over our infrastructure limitation.
  7. The only way to the center is to drive, carpool or take the Vallecitos arranged shuttle service (only one departure) at the start and end of the retreat. There is no alternate form of public transportation to the retreat center. We must be made aware of your travel plans prior to the retreat. If you’re driving, use our directions and plan to arrive between 3:00 and 5:00 pm. Please do not arrive after dark.
  8. Bring clothing in layers, including a raincoat and shoes that can get wet.
  9. Have other questions or wish to speak to a person? Our Community Organizer, Kelzi Montpetit (mixed race Kanien’kehá:ka and Anishinaabe), would be happy to speak with you. They will be calling those who have been invited to the retreat. You may also reach out to Kelzi by calling 518-212-9639 or emailing refuge@vallecitos.org.


What are the total fees and what do they cover?


The IP retreat has a sliding scale of $0 – $1,050. The actual cost of the retreat is $840. This covers meals, accommodation, shuttle to and from the airport, bedding and towels, and shower products. You can choose to make an offering to the teachers at the end of retreat (optional).  


What elevation is the center at? Is that a problem?


The elevation of the center is 8,800 feet. Visitors often experience mild symptoms of elevation related illness, including fatigue, headache, dizziness, gastrointestinal upset, sleep disruption and mild shortness of breath. These symptoms often go away during the first 1-3 days but can persist. In very rare cases symptoms can escalate to a more threatening condition with shortness of breath at rest, persistent coughing, and exercise intolerance. 

If you have ongoing medical conditions or acute medical issues, a visit to a medical provider familiar with the demands of altitude travel is helpful to prepare you before your trip. 

What to do to prevent altitude sickness BEFORE you arrive: 

  • Acclimatizing: If you are able to sleep a night or two at a slightly lower elevation than the center prior to your arrival, it will help speed the body’s process of acclimatizing (Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Taos, Denver).
  • Hydration: It is critical to stay well hydrated starting several days prior to travel and during your retreat. Hydration is the key to preventing altitude related illness.
  • Take it easy: Do not overdo it the first day or two. Stop early when you start to feel fatigue or any prolonged breathlessness.
  • High Carbohydrate Diet: Increase carbohydrate intake (pasta, rice, pancakes) to 70% of total calories. This means reducing fat intake.
  • Medication: There is prescription medication which helps prevent illness and speed acclimation. If you have a known issue with being at altitude, please consult your doctor before coming.


What other health considerations are there for being at the center?


We are a remote wilderness retreat center and are prepared for minor injuries and illness only. The nearest hospital is approximately 1 ½ hour drive.



The center is a remote, off-grid property in the wilderness of Jicarilla Apache and Ute Territories ( Carson National Forest). You must be able to walk uphill on rocky, uneven paths to navigate between the sitting hall, bath house, dining hall and your accommodation in daylight and at night. 



We are 1 ½ hours from the nearest medical facility. Our staff is only trained in basic first aid and CPR. In order to keep you safe,  health concerns must be shared with us prior to arrival. You must bring any medications needed to last your entire stay. 


CPAP use

We have two accommodations that can accommodate the use of a CPAP machine. We power the CPAP machines with solar powered batteries. IF YOU ARE BRINGING A CPAP, you must inform us so you can consent to the limitations of our infrastructure.


What are your COVID safety measures?


Please see our full COVID Safety Measures here.


How do I get to the center? 


To reach Vallecitos, you will need to drive, carpool or take the Vallecitos arranged shuttle service (only one departure) at the start and end of the retreat. There is no alternate form of public transportation to the retreat center (i.e. bus, taxi, or uber). 



For this retreat, we provide one shuttle, free of charge, from the Albuquerque, NM airport departing at 2pm on June 18th making one stop in Santa Fe, NM. The return trip to the airport will arrive at approximately 1pm on June 24th.  



You can find driving directions to the center here. Please know the last half hour to the center is on unpaved forest service road. The gate code to enter the property will be provided via email prior to your arrival date. Please review your route to Vallecitos on a map BEFORE beginning your trip.  Follow the directions we provide exactly and do not attempt to take any “shortcuts”, other routes, or rely on Google maps or GPS (both are unreliable and inaccurate in this area). 


The directions we provide are the safest, most expedient routes to the retreat center. If you don’t follow these directions, you risk getting lost in a remote area. There is no cell phone service in the mountains of this area.  In addition, it is not safe to drive in the evening in the mountains because of the danger of elk and deer that regularly cross the roads at that hour. Please arrange your schedule so that you arrive safely and on time. 


Driving Times

6 hours from Denver, 3 ½ hours from Albuquerque, 3 ½ hours from Durango, 2 ½ hours from Santa Fe, 1 ½ hours from Taos. Driving times are estimated and include no stops.


Travel Day Assistance

If you need assistance on the day you travel, please call our main number 505-469-9017 or Kelzi at 518-212-9639 immediately so that we can support your journey to the center. 


What can you tell me about travel grants?


Our Community Organizer, Kelzi, will be contacting all guests to talk through any questions including those related to travel grants. We invite a conversation with each person so that we may learn your travel plans and any assistance required. We will gather information first from the group, then we will award travel grants that will allow for the most number of people to receive assistance until funds run out. Please note we are not able to make travel reservations for you.


What do I need to bring with me?


We will provide all meals, bedding, towels, shower products, and meditation props. For packing, our motto for clothing is “Be Prepared!” with the emphasis on comfort, not style. Nights and mornings during the summer can be chilly (40s-50s). Days can be quite warm (70s-80s). Also, please remember that because of the high elevation of the property, the sun is very intense. Frequent and unexpected afternoon thunderstorms are also likely during the summer months (July and August). While June is usually a drier month, packing rainproof or resistant footwear will ensure your comfort. Here is a list of things to pack to bring to the center:

  • Clothes that can be layered (it’s cold at night in the mountains!)
  • Sun Hat (warm hat too in colder months)
  • Rain gear (raincoat or poncho)
  • Hiking boots or sturdy walking shoes (rain resistant is preferable)
  • Easy slip on shoes are nice to have as shoes are not allowed in the meditation hall or practice tent
  • Daypack (optional)
  • Battery operated travel alarm clock
  • Battery operated flashlight or headlamp
  • Extra batteries
  • Water bottle
  • Sunscreen 
  • Medications
  • Please note that we do not have the electrical capacity to support charging and using personal devices such as phones, ipads or computers. You are encouraged to leave these items at home, in your car, or off in your luggage
  • Candles are not allowed on site
  • Burning of sage or ceremonial items will only be allowed if forest conditions permit and under the supervision of teachers and staff.
  • Vallecitos is a weapons, tobacco, and alcohol free facility. These items are strictly forbidden on site


What is the weather like at the center?

Click here for current weather at Vallecitos.


Nights and mornings during the summer can be chilly (40s-50s). Days can be quite warm (70s-80s). Also, please remember that because of the high elevation of the property, the sun is very intense. Frequent and unexpected afternoon thunderstorms are also likely during the summer months (July and August). Packing rainproof or resistant footwear will ensure your comfort.


What are the accommodations like?


Please note there is no electricity to any accommodations at the retreat center. Guests will be placed in either a casita, yurt, tent cabin or the hermitage cabin. Please let us know if you require an accommodation that is closer to the main retreat common areas. 



Each casita has a large window looking out to the woods, a bed, table and chair, as well as hooks to hang personal items.   All casitas have a small propane heater.  There are two to three casitas per casita structure, with shared walls in between. Casitas are single occupancy.



There are four yurts available.  Yurts are round, with a skylight in the middle of the structure and canvas walls.  Each yurt has a bed, table and chair, as well as hooks to hang personal items.  All yurts have a small propane heater.  The yurts are stand-alone structures. Yurts are single occupancy.



There are four tent cabins available.  Tents are rectangular, framed canvas structures with a zipper door and three windows.  Each tent has a bed, side table and chair.  Tents have a small propane heater.  The tents are stand-alone structures. Tents are single occupancy.


There is a bathhouse shared by all retreatants with hot showers and restrooms, as well as outhouses.


The retreat center is far from the electrical grid. Lighting in the casitas, yurts and tent cabins is provided by solar power or battery operated lights. There are no electrical outlets for personal appliances or electronic devices.


Is there cell service at the center?

There is no cell service for about an hour surrounding the retreat center. We have a satellite phone and satellite internet service for our operations and for emergencies. You must plan ahead when traveling to the center as there is no service for the last hour. 


For family members to reach you, give them our emergency phone number 505-469-9017 and we will get a message to you on retreat. 


How can a family member reach me in the case of an emergency?


If someone needs to reach you during the retreat, they should call our office 505-469-9017. We will get a message to you.


When will the retreat start and end?


Sunday June 18th Arrival (The following may vary depending on the needs of the retreat.)


  • 3:00 – 5:00 pm  Arrival and Registration for those driving to the center
  • 5:30 – 6:30 pm  Arrival and Registration for those riding the shuttle 
  • 6:30 – 7:30 pm  Dinner
  • 7:30 – 8:00 pm  Orientation
  • 8:00 pm  Opening of the Retreat


Saturday June 24th Departure (The following may vary depending on the needs of the retreat.)


  • 7:30 – 8:00 am  Breakfast
  • 8:15 am  Departure for those riding the shuttle
  • 8:30 – 9:30 am  Clean up
  • 9:30 – 10:00 am  Pack up
  • 10:00 am  Departure for those driving


Daily Schedules provided at the retreat.


What is the food like? Can I bring food with me?



Vallecitos provides 3 delicious, nutritious meals each day.  Ingredients are mostly organic and locally sourced where possible. Tea, fruit and simple snacks are available throughout the day in the dining room. Coffee is served at breakfast.

Special Dietary Information / Simple Bar

Vallecitos is committed to providing the best retreat experience possible. We understand that you have legitimate questions and concerns pertaining to your special dietary restrictions and need to understand what options you will have on retreat.  We have implemented a simple bar to accommodate 99% of all special diet requests. What this entails is at the mid-day and evening meal the kitchen will prepare 3 items that provide a balanced offering that most anyone with food restrictions can enjoy. It contains a cooked vegetable, cooked grain and source of protein (bean, legume or such). These items are prepared very simply, without dairy, soy, nuts or spices. We still ask for your specific restrictions in your registration so that our cooks can prepare and order accordingly. 

Given the remote nature of our retreat center and limited time we have to prepare meals, we can only accommodate special requests that are medically necessary. It takes great effort and planning to put together the meals we offer. We receive no deliveries at the retreat center and the nearest store is 1-1/2 hours away. Thank you for your consideration.

Bringing your own food

While you are welcome to bring  non-perishable food items to supplement your diet, we ask that you follow these guidelines.  We have very limited refrigerator space, so we ask that you only bring items that need refrigeration if it is absolutely necessary.  You are welcome to bring non-perishable items; they must be stored at the lodge or in a locked car.  We do not want to entice wild life or bugs into the accommodations and therefore food is not allowed in the accommodations.