A Quick Jaunt Through New Mexico
New Mexico is the newest state under my belt! I think I did a pretty admirable job of trying to pack as much as possible into my week long visit, but I know I left SO MANY stones unturned. Initial thoughts: An incredibly beautiful state! Not to mention the culture and history and of course, the food. I will definitely be returning to New Mexico to spend more time exploring in the future. It’s on the list! Here is what I managed to see:
Santa Fe, NM
Quite possibly the perfect-sized town, with a population hovering around 70,000, Santa Fe is small enough to feel intimate but large enough to have a ton to do and see. The narrow winding roads and abundance of small locally owned shops make for a warm and cozy experience.
I stayed at the Cochiti Campground, about 25 minutes west of the city. A nice facility on a hilltop, with nearly 360 degree views.
In Santa Fe, I wandered around the Plaza and soaked in what I learned is called Pueblo Revival Architecture – the brown buildings seen below which I am having a real hard time finding adjectives to describe… Doughy?
Many beautiful churches in the area as well.
I went on an eating and drinking extravaganza in Santa Fe. The town is known for its great food, (specializing in anything chili-related), and its killer margaritas. I went to:
Maria’s (Over 200 different types of margarita…. whaaaat!)
The Shed (More margaritas and excellent food)
Cowgirl (Where I got to meet up with my second cousin Susie, which was fantastic! So nice to meet new family. She and her husband have a couple of Airstreams so I’m hoping they come join me on the road 🙂 )
Draft Station (Overlooking the Plaza – great location and great beer after a long day of exploring)
India Palace (Recommended to me by 2 Indian guys I met at Maria’s so obviously high quality)
Iconik Coffee Roasters (Big space with abundant seating and awesome coffee.)
The Teahouse (I am not a huge tea drinker, but they made me the best iced tea I’ve ever had. Their selection was huge and their place is adorable. They are also very conveniently located on Canyon Road, which is a big art hub. If you’re strolling around looking at galleries, this is a great stop.)
The vibe in Santa Fe is really what makes it special. Maybe it’s because it’s spring and everyone seems to be happy and enjoying the outdoors. Maybe it’s the bajillion cute shops and restaurants. Maybe it’s the warm and inviting architecture. All I know is, I was feeling it.
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Park
I wanted to get a good hike in, so I went to this nearby park, which is a convenient 15-minute drive from the Cochiti Campground and about 45 minutes from Santa Fe.
There are 2 trails in the park, one relatively flat trail that takes you to see this neat cave:
The other trail winds through a slot canyon before climbing up to an overlook where you can check out the very weird rock formations that give this place its name.
The higher you climb, the cooler it gets.
I love to take the car and go driving to see what I run into. I decided to check out the “Turquoise Trail,” a quiet scenic highway that runs from Santa Fe to Albuquerque east of I25. Fantastic scenery, and 2 notable towns along the way that are worth checking out: First up is Los Cerrillos, a very small historical turquoise mining town with a state park and a few quiet and old-fashioned streets. Then a few miles down the road is Madrid, a much more bustling (though also tiny) enclave of shops and restaurants along the highway with a definite hippie/gypsy vibe. Have I mentioned I LOVE stuff like this?? I decided to stop and eat at The Hollar, and had one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time.
They have an idyllic outdoor patio where I sat and had a beer and enjoyed the sunshine.
I only had 48 hours in Taos, but I really made the most of it.
I explored the plaza and downtown area, with more of that great architecture (and chilies, they like their chilies in NM).
In my wanderings I bumped into the annual Mother’s Day festival hosted by the city of Taos with live music and a beer tent!
The plaza and downtown area of Taos is PACKED with shops and restaurants. Shops were too expensive for my taste (note: I have pretty cheap taste…) but fun to poke around in anyway. There were far too many restaurants to choose from, so I kind of chose at random, and had a very nice meal at Taos Ale House.
Rio Grande Gorge Bridge
The Rio Grande Gorge itself is pretty spectacular – driving from Santa Fe to Taos you get a great view of this sudden startling crack in the earth from above. I was eager to get a closer look. One easy way to do that is to drive to the bridge, where in the rest stop parking lot you can hike along a trail to get some distance from the bridge and get a better look.
Max, who is normally pretty gung-ho about this type of thing, was NOT a fan of the gorge or the bridge. It was a very windy day and after getting close to the edge he very quickly high-tailed it in the other direction.
Taos Ski Valley
My final stop was the Taos Ski Valley. Skiing season has passed, and the town is pretty much closed up. But the drive up to the valley is absolutely majestic – the road runs along next to a rushing river surrounded by a thick pine wilderness. There are a couple of signs for hiking along the road, so on my way back down I decided to take a quick hike.
I have a serious problem where I will try to take a “quick hike” and 2 hours later end up at the top of a mountain. I start going and then I get curious about what’s around the next corner, and before you know it I’m determined to get to the top, damn the consequences!!
The only consequence here was snow, which ended up being the reason I had to turn around at hour 2. Well, that and darkness (I had my headlamp with me, don’t worry!)
I didn’t make it to the top, but there were nice views, regardless.
The Taos Ski Valley area is beautiful. Next time maybe I’ll come in the right season and hit the slopes!
So there you have it! New Mexico! “Land of Enchantment” indeed. I would love to come back and spend more time in both Santa Fe and Taos. I also desperately want to go to the White Sands National Monument in the southern part of the state. Next time!
I left Taos and drove a brutal 7 hours up to Denver this Sunday. 7 hours in the RV is like… 20 hours in a normal car, I swear. It’s like dog years, same concept. I am very pleased to be in Denver, where I will be staying until May 20-something, (excluding a 5-day trip I am taking to Pennsylvania for work). Looking forward to spending way too much money on craft beer and food in the upcoming weeks! 🙂