By Shermakaye Bass
September 10, 2008 12:00 PM

Walking into Randy and Elizabeth Travis’s home in Santa Fe feels a little like treading on sacred ground. All across the 220-acre ranch the landscape is lush, with flowering chamisa and cactus blooms. Dust devils rustle in the dry breeze while Travis’s beloved horses mosey around the adjoining stable. The spiritual feeling carries inside as well, where the Travises’ collection of more than 500 crosses is on display throughout their sprawling 28,000-sq.-ft. house. “We’ve traveled around a lot, so we’ve gotten to see a lot of the world, but I haven’t ever really seen anything that looks like Santa Fe,” says Travis, who relocated with Lib, his wife of 17 years, from Nashville to Santa Fe in 1999. “This is a very unique place.”

And yet lately the singer, 49, hasn’t had too many quiet weekends at home. Travis’s first country album in eight years, Around the Bend, was released in July, and he and Lib—who has served as his manager since discovering him in a North Carolina club 32 years ago—have been on the promotional circuit for months. But their sanctuary is Santa Fe. Says Travis: “It’s just a wonderful feeling here.” The couple first fell in love with the area 20 years ago when Travis performed there. “Then we started coming back to do a fair in Albuquerque every year,” recalls the country icon, who has racked up 6 Grammys, 6 CMAs and 22 No. 1 hits. “Every break we’d have, we’d come here. Then finally we said, ‘To heck with it.’ We had 200-plus acres in Nashville and some dot-com guy offered cash if we could get out by such and such date. We said, ‘Ah, okay. We can do that.’ ”

In 2002 they completed work on their dream house, which features everything from a bowling alley to a beauty salon to a 2,500-sq.-ft. air-conditioned barn with stables and a bedroom. “When we built this house, my only thing I said I wanted was a gym and/or a pistol range, and obviously a barn for my horses because I’ve been on ’em my whole life,” says Travis, who began riding at 3. “That’s pretty much it!”

When it came to the southwestern decor, Travis was happy to hand over the reins to Lib, 67, who mixed fine art and folk art throughout the home: Classic western Frederick Remington bronzes take their place alongside a highly prized collection of antique Native American pottery, with some pieces up to 1,000 years old. There are whimsical touches as well, including a life-size sculpture of an elderly man sitting in a lawn chair. “We call him Charlie,” Travis says of the conversation piece on the patio. “He’s actually startled a lot of people. They think he’s real until they get right up to him!”

As for the extensive cross collection, “I collect them and people give them to me,” says Lib, who also partners with her husband in their family-film production company Pure Flix. “I just love the shape of the cross.”

For Travis—one of six North Carolina-bred siblings whose father was a horse trainer and whose mother worked in a textile mill—one of the most rewarding aspects of life is the opportunity to give back. He and Lib are helping build a new local farmers’ market and are avid supporters of the Heart Gallery, a nonprofit group that aids foster children. During one concert for the kids, “there was this little boy—couldn’t have been more than 6—with a cowboy hat on,” recalls Travis. “He would request stuff that were album cuts! They weren’t hits, they weren’t singles—nothing! And I’m sitting there going, ‘I don’t even know that song.’ He was adorable.”

In their downtime, the homebody couple like to make the most of their custom spread. “When we’re in town, we’ll sit right here in the den and have dinner and watch a movie,” says Travis. Just like everyday people? Says the singer, with a grin: “Heck yeah!”