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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

5 Day Trips Around Santa Fe

New Mexico is the "Land of Enchantment" with unique vistas in any direction away from the capitol city of Santa Fe. Making your base camp in Santa Fe gives you the advantage to choose from 5 leisurely day trips. Here are just a few of the highlights of these 5 excursions.

Bandelier Cliff Dwelling
To the west you will explore the ancient ruins of Bandelier National Monument for a self-guided tour of ancestral pueblo cliff dwellings. You can then explore the space-age city of Los Alamos and the Los Alamos History Museum. Continuing west through the Jemez Mountains, you will pass the world's largest caldera, the collapsed crater of a three-million year-old volcano and enjoy the Jemez River Canyon with waterfalls and natural springs.

To the northwest you can travel through the red rock landscape made famous by Georgia O'Keeffe. The Pedernal, a flat-top thumb of rock near Abiquiu stands prominently on the western horizon and was painted many times by O'Keeffe. Tours of her Abiquiu home can be arranged in advance. Lakes and rivers along the route include Abiquiu Lake, Heron Lake and the Brazos River where swimming and fishing are available. Echo Amphitheater is a natural sandstone echo chamber with picnic area and a meandering trail through the sandstone canyon.

Taos is a delightful adventure to the north. Rich in Hispanic and Pueblo Indian tradition, a trip to Taos can begin with a drive up the High Road past Chimayo, famous for its weaving tradition and the Santuario de
One of the most photographed churches
 in New Mexico
Chimayo. This is the "Lourdes of the Southwest" visited by thousands of pilgrims each year seeking the blessings of the "miraculous dirt" found in a corner of the 19th century chapel. In Taos you will find the oldest inhabited pueblo, built more than a thousand years ago, the Taos Pueblo is a living history community. Taos itself is a very historic village and meeting place of Spanish settlers, mountain men, frontier scouts, and Pueblo Indians. The highlight is the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge crossing the narrow, deep canyon that cuts through the mesa outside Taos. Take the drive down into the Gorge and return to the Low Road back to Santa Fe at Pilar for the best adventure of the day.

East of Santa Fe is the 'other' Las Vegas, once an important stop on the Santa Fe Trail it is still home to the largest collection of Victorian-era buildings in the West. Along the way out of Santa Fe you will pass through Glorieta Pass and the opportunity to visit the Pecos Wilderness, filled with trout streams. Continue on to the Pecos National Historical Park to see ruins of the deserted Pecos Pueblo and Spanish mission church. In Las Vegas take a walking tour of the historic architecture, unique shops and restaurants. Continue on to La Cueva, Mora and through the mountains to join the High Road to Taos for a scenic ride back to Santa Fe.

Allan Houser Sculpture Gardens are on the way to Madrid
South of Santa Fe you can visit the old mining towns of Cerrillos and Madrid. On the way stop at the Allan Houser Sculpture Gardens (appointment required). Turquoise has been mined along this route for centuries as well as gold, coal and lead. Madrid, the home of the movie 'Wild Hogs' with Tim Allen and John Travolta, is now a fun village of art and unique characters. Continue on to Sandia Park and turn right on NM 536 through the Sandia Mountains to the top of Sandia Crest overlooking Albuquerque.  Don't miss a stop at Tinkertown on the way, a private collection of miniature villages, it's a one of a kind museum.

These are just some of the highlights of these 5 day trips. The mileage of these trips range from 45 to 250 depending on how far you want to adventure. Santa Fe as a hub for these adventures gives you the luxury of fine dining, great evening music in the many restaurants and lounges and a great night's sleep at the Fodor's recommended Don Gaspar Inn. We'll help you decide which adventure is right for you.