In early summer 1929, O'Keeffe traveled from New York to northern New Mexico, having first seen the area in 1917, when she returned to Texas from a vacation in Colorado. As she later explained:
When I got to New Mexico that was mine. As soon as I saw it that was my country. I'd never seen anything like it before, but it fitted to me exactly. It's something that's in the air, it's different. The sky is different, the wind is different. I shouldn't say too much about it because other people may be interested and I don't want them interested."
O'Keeffe spent the summers of 1929 and 193o in Taos, exploring areas to the south by car. She sketched and painted the sand hills and majestic mountains in and around Alcalde and Abiquiu, and in 1931, she stayed in Alcalde.