When I asked my friend Natalie to accompany me on a road trip to New Mexico, she instantly replied, “Can we go to Meow Wolf!?” There was no way I could turn her down.
This giant, mind-bending art exhibit was something I had seen all over the internet, but nothing had truly prepared us for the immersive experience.
You can see my own video recap here: https://youtu.be/TCsvTaCzcnU
We planned to spend the entire afternoon exploring inside. We purchased tickets online at https://tickets.meowwolf.com/santa-fe/ for a 1:20 p.m. slot and could stay until they closed at 8 p.m. to make sure we saw everything.
Even when we pulled into the parking lot to start our tour, we were greeted by giant statues and art work. These unexpected pieces fueled our excitement as we crossed the pavement into the lobby area.
The lobby was more surprising than the outdoor decor. The building is a converted bowling alley, and the lobby and bar areas pay a neon tribute to the building’s history. The bright, shiny art pieces entertained us to no end as we stood in line.
We showed our tickets to the cashier and were given a safety briefing. The rules were “touch, climb on, and play with everything inside except the human performers. Do not touch them.” We were then offered 3-D glasses for a couple of dollars. We were told they would enhance the neon artwork. Without hesitation, we bought the glasses and were given our entry wristbands
After our tickets were scanned, we spent another 20 minutes checking out the artwork before we walked in. We spent a lot of that time checking out the walls of the lobby and hallways leading to the restrooms, water fountains, and office rooms. Finally, we wandered back toward the front and were ready to enter into the House of Eternal Return.
We had read, on the pamphlets, the story of a family and their connection with the House of Eternal return. There is a mystery that you can try to piece together for an explanation of the experience. There was also an app that allows you to find all sorts of clues around the house when trying to solve the mystery.
There is no structured way to travel through Meow Wolf. Each person’s experience is unique and the art is designed to tell a non-linear story meant to be understood when piecing it together in your own way. Here and there, we saw video boards telling stories of “The Anomaly” and a space creature’s relationship with it. Some other stories incorporated the Selig Family, and we would stop and put on headphones to try to understand the story behind the artwork.
The very first thing waiting for us, after we entered through the dark hallway and door, was a life-sized house, the home of the Selig family. We chose not to enter right away but to take a right turn and go through their backyard’s garden fence.
On the second floor, we discovered two distinct, small spaces to sit in. The first was a UFO shaped and colorfully lit space where we hopped up on the bench and danced in the bright lights. The second was a campsite setup whose inside had a night sky projected on its dome.
Behind the UFO bubble, a wall of neon drawings enticed us to put on our 3-D glasses to see the art come to life. Blacklights made the neon colors pop off of their black background, and the 3-D glasses made an explosive piece of artwork much more entertaining.
The first was a black and white, retro-themed kitchen complete with creepy heads in the pantry and monsters under the sink. Next, we found a dark room with an interactive light game that had us memorizing patterns to make each shape light up. Finally, we found a stairwell that hypnotized us as we sprinted down into the unknown. At the bottom of the stairs a dark door hid a multi-colored surprise.
At one point, we found an RV camper with a woman reading tarot cards. We, of course, took a seat and had ours read. Having our fortunes read fit right in with the mystical atmosphere of Meow Wolf. Luckily, both of ours were positive, and went about the rest of our adventure happily and optimistically!
When we left the RV, we were in what looked like a spaceship. The hallways were all white and hard plastic, and it made me feel like I was walking through a ship in a Star Wars movie.
We took time now to walk through the house and make sure to see all of the rooms inside. We started in the kitchen and went into the dining and living rooms. We looked around the seemingly normal house and even sat at the dining room table and on the couches. Then, we walked through the fireplace and back into another universe.
One room was a creepy, 2000’s themed girl’s room with Hannah Montana all over the walls. The next had a closet full of shimmering candy-like objects encased in glass like a museum. Another room led to a lookout viewing the earlier mentioned xylophone dinosaur and gave us a closer look at the worm creatures hanging from the ceiling.
When we saw all the rooms inside, we went back downstairs and exited the house through the washing machine and into the laundry room. We slid down a small slide into a tiny box full of dirty laundry and flashing LED lights. We cracked up at the scene before pulling ourselves out.
We noticed that we were back in the hallway we first entered in through hours earlier at the beginning of our journey. We decided it was a great time to take a break, have a drink, and try to put our minds back together.
We walked out of the exhibit room and into Float Cafe & Bar. We walked up to the bar and were instantly intrigued by their array of absinthe, but we hesitantly opted for two absinthe-free craft cocktails. I ordered the Meowgarita, while Natalie ordered a Smokey Coyote. Mine was a sugary margarita topped with a cloud of cotton candy, and Natalie’s was made with elderberry liquor, agave, and a fruit peel garnish.
We sat down at a table and started trying to unravel all that we had just seen inside. While we sipped our drinks, we looked back at our pictures and tried to piece everything together. When we thought we had a good enough idea, we made a plan to go back inside and run through everything again in case we had missed anything.
It turns out that we saw almost everything in our first trip through. We only found a few video boards we had missed and a couple of details we had overlooked. We sat in the treehouse area for a nice, long time and observed every feature of the giant sculpture garden below us.
We had been in Meow Wolf for five hours when we decided to leave! We made a final lap around to triple check that we hadn’t missed anything. When we finally made it back to the front, we walked out of the building overjoyed yet a little fuzzy from sheer sensory overload.
You can see my own GoPro video recap here: https://youtu.be/TCsvTaCzcnU
Talkin' 'bout Tacos:
I'm Taylor, aka Tacos! I am sharing my journeys and experiences from across the world hoping to inspire travel and adventure in all who read!