If You Were Planning to Visit...
Due to the federal government closure, some of our favorite national parks and monuments may not be open to the public. Don't despair! We've put together this great list of places that you can visit and created itineraries to help you on your way — no matter what region of New Mexico you find yourself in.
If you were planning on heading to Petroglyph National Monument, Valles Caldera National Preserve, or Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument…
Check out this three-day itinerary that shows you some of the highlights of central New Mexico.
Day One: Experience city, country, national forest, and Historic Route 66 with a drive around Sandia Peak. Start at the northwestern tip by checking out the bison herd behind the Bien Mur Indian Market, on Sandia Pueblo, then drive south on Tramway Boulevard along the western face of the mountain. (Numerous trailheads will tempt you throughout this trip!) Turn east on Central Avenue, part of the Mother Road, and, at Tijeras, go north on NM 14. Pick up coffee and a pastry at the Greenside Café. Pull onto NM 536, stop at the folk art fantasyland of the Tinkertown Museum, then drive to the top of the mountain for a breathtaking view of the city. Backtrack six miles and turn north on NM 165 at the Balsam Glade Picnic Area. Seven miles of rugged dirt road carry you through a spectacular forest. Pop into Sandia Man Cave before bending west into Placitas, where you can fuel up at Blade’s Bistro. Leaving Placitas, skip I-25 and turn south on Camino del Pueblo, an early Route 66 alignment, which glides through Sandia Pueblo before connecting with Tramway. Go east to the Sandia Resort & Casino to catch a starlit show in the beautiful outdoor amphitheater.
Day Two: Named for the mines that once dotted its length, the Turquoise Trail, aka NM 14, invites you to peek into history, visit with artists, and take a gentle hike. Start in the village of Tijeras, about 18 miles east of Albuquerque. Stoke up with a hearty breakfast at the Roots Farm Café, then wander north, past Cedar Crest’s shopping and dining options. In Golden, the historic Henderson Store sells high-quality Native-made art, rugs, pottery, and jewelry. Book a night at the Java Junction Bed and Breakfast, in Madrid, because that funky old mining town deserves a little lingering. Boutique stores, art galleries, rock shops with raw turquoise, and more than a few hippie holdouts line the road, where walking the length is easier than parking. Opt for a yak burger and Mad Chile Margarita at the Mine Shaft Tavern. In the morning, go north to the village of Cerrillos and check out the Turquoise Mining Museum. At Cerrillos Hills State Park, you can wander trails on rolling hills, hop onto ranger-led workshops, or stay for a monthly star party. Game for a gravel road? Take CR 57 through Waldo Canyon (snap a pic of the coke-furnace ruins) to connect with I-25 south to Albuquerque.
Day Three: Start in Bernalillo at Coronado Historic Site, where the ruins of Kuaua Pueblo include a painted kiva that you can climb down into and ponder the lives that were lived here. Travel west on US 550 and turn north on NM 4 at the village of San Ysidro. As you drive through Jemez Pueblo, keep an eye out for jewelry, bread, and burger vendors. Stop at the Walatowa Visitor Center, which combines enlightening museum exhibits with a standout gift shop. Enjoy the cottonwood-lined road and red cliffs leading into Jemez Springs, where you’ve booked a night at Cañon del Rio, a small inn and spa. Hot springs abound here, on hiking trails and at businesses in town, including the old-school Jemez Springs Bath House. The narrow main drag boasts shops with work by local artists, plus Los Ojos Restaurant and Saloon, which has a Wild West vibe but caters to vegetarians, too. From this base camp, you can study more ancient ruins at Jemez Historic Site or go fishing in Fenton Lake State Park.
If you were planning on heading to Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument or Bandelier National Monument…
We’ve got a four-day itinerary that’ll take you through some of the best of North Central New Mexico.
Day One: Set forth due west on US 64 from Taos. Taos Mesa Brewing’s original location—the Mothership—is a stellar place to begin. Order a pulled pork sandwich and grab a growler of kölsch for later. The Mothership also boasts an impressive amphitheater for those wanting to catch local and national musical acts on the road. Continuing westward, the Río Grande Gorge comes into view, cleaving open the sagebrush-laden plains as far as the eye can see. Stop to snap Instagram-worthy shots before hopping back onto the road, where the otherworldly passive solar homes and Earthships very quickly come into sight. The landscape begins to change as you enter Carson National Forest. Camp out among the conifers and stunning canyon views at Hopewell Lake, where there is even an area of troughs for horse traffic and passing cowboys. Meander through Tres Piedras, a former railroad stop on the narrow-gauge Chili Line, then head to Tierra Amarilla—named so for its yellow-hued clay—where you will find Margarita’s El Comedor, a joint with local fare. Then head to the small town of Los Ojos, home of Tierra Wools. Buy a locally made Río Grande–style weaving and plan to stay at the on-site guesthouse for two nights while you take a hand-spinning class with local artisans.
Day Two: Start early and head north on US 84/285 from Santa Fe. A jaunt off the main drag will take you to the Río en Medio Trailhead, just outside the village of Tesuque. Parking can be sparse, but the moderately difficult hike (about two hours round-trip) into the Santa Fe National Forest eventually leads to a stunning waterfall where you can plunge your tired dogs. Taking 285, you’ll pass through the pueblos of Tesuque, Pojoaque, and Nambé and eventually stop in Española, dubbed the lowrider capital of the world, where the Misión y Convento at the city’s plaza offers a bit of history. A margarita and a plate of Tacos las Brasas from local favorite El Paragua will round out the afternoon.
Day Three: US 84 splits off toward Ojo Caliente, where you can soak against the backdrop of sandy cliffs at the Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs. Wade in the rejuvenating water until 10 p.m., when the stars are in full glisten, and then spend the night at the historic resort. Double back to US 285 and drive toward Abiquiú. Pop into the Georgia O’Keeffe Welcome Center to grab a couple of souvenirs from the gift shop, then take a group tour of the artist’s home and studio. Pay special attention to O’Keeffe’s modernist furniture and storied rock collection. Bode’s General Merchandise is a historic roadside mercantile perfect for grabbing a bite and six-packs of Monks’ Ale, brewed at the nearby Christ in the Desert Monastery. Strike out to find said monastery, but prepare for a bumpy ride on a washboard road along the Chama River. An adobe-built complex nestled among breathtaking red-striped bluffs awaits with promises of quiet meditation.
Day Three: Beginning in Taos, follow the path of the Enchanted Circle, a loop around New Mexico’s highest mountain, Wheeler Peak, and a favorite trip among cyclists. Planning ahead, stop at Taos Pueblo, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where feast days honoring patron saints are celebrated throughout the year. Be sure to follow pueblo rules when visiting—this is someone’s home. Take a jaunt to Taos Ski Valley, where hikers can make a steep and rocky trek to Williams Lake at 11,000 feet. Stay at or near the ski area or get back onto NM 522. Right before entering San Cristóbal, take note of the D. H. Lawrence Ranch, the very brief home of the English writer during his 1920s visits to Mabel Dodge Luhan. Continue through the mountains and visit the small village of Questa and the nearby Red River Fish Hatchery. For a brief culinary side trip, continue past Questa into the town of Cerro, where My Tía’s Cafe serves up a menu of local New Mexico favorites. Head toward Red River on NM 38 and make time for camping at the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness, which edges an extinct supervolcano. The wilderness also contains the headwaters of Red River and the Río Hondo and plenty of hiking trails and fishing spots. Afterward, make a trip to Red River Brewery and peruse the downtown area before getting back onto NM 38 to finish the loop back into Taos.
If you were planning on heading to Aztec Ruins National Monument, El Morro National Monument, El Malpais National Monument, or Chaco Culture National Historic Park…
Here’s a three-day schedule that’ll get you out and about all over Northwestern New Mexico.
Day One: After filling up on tamales at El Bruno’s Restaurante and Cantina, in Cuba, take US 550 toward Nageezi (the Diné word “Naayizi” means squash), a landscape on the tip of a geological trove of buttes, volcanic mountains, sandstone, and shale formations that make up the grand Colorado Plateau. Take note of the otherworldly coloring of the surrounding hills as well as rural graffiti art. Afterward, continue north toward Bloomfield, making a short stop at Salmon Ruins Museum. Then take NM 511 into Navajo Lake State Park. With ample trails, campgrounds, fishing, and all manner of water sports available, your cup will overflow with recreational goodness after a significant encounter with the region’s rich past.
Day Two: Begin in Farmington and catch NM 371 south to the Bisti/ De-Na-Zin Wilderness, 45,000 acres of rippling sandstone formations, hoodoos, and petrified wood. In Diné, “De- Na-Zin” refers to the standing crane petroglyphs that can be found throughout. Take the De-Na-Zin trailhead in and walk along the washes, glimpsing the cliffs and hoodoos. The BLM allows dispersed camping, though there are no developed campsites. From the Bisti, motor toward Crownpoint just south on NM 371. If you happen to be traveling through town on the second Friday of the month, then do not leave without visiting the Crownpoint Rug Auction, held at Crownpoint Elementary School. The doors open at 4 p.m., when Navajo rugs are first laid out for potential buyers to inspect. Then the auction proper kicks off at 7 p.m., lasting anywhere from two to three hours. Rugs can go for as little as $50. Continue south into Gallup, a strange hub of Old West mercantile stores, once-famous Route 66 motels, and, now, a burgeoning contemporary art scene. Arriving on a Saturday morning means a stop at the Gallup 9th Street Flea Market. With 500 Navajo, Acoma, and Zuni vendors selling arts, home goods, jewelry, and herbs, the market is the perfect place to find one-of-a-kind wares. To complete the shopping experience, make sure to pick up a few good regional eats like horno bread, mutton, and stew.
Day Three: Hit up Genaro’s Restaurant in Gallup before getting on NM 602 south. Veer west toward Zuni Pueblo, the largest of New Mexico’s 19 pueblos. Zuni offers archaeological tours of ancestral villages, traditional cooking classes (with reservations), and courses on pre-contact foods. Prices vary, but each is worth-while for small groups looking to gain knowledge of some of the region’s longstanding stewards. Swing through the Route 66 hamlet of Grants, which houses the world’s only uranium-mining museum. Head toward Sky City Cultural Center & Haak’u Museum, where you can glimpse the historic Acoma Pueblo, known for its legacy of colonial resistance and location atop a plateau. And if that weren’t enough, it’s also one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in North America.
If you were planning on heading to Pecos National Historic Park, Fort Union National Monument, or Capulin Volcano National Monument…
We’ve got a three-day itinerary that’ll take you through all the cowboy country in northeastern New Mexico.
Day One: Spend a day in Cimarrón, home of Wild West legends, the Aztec Mill Museum, the Cimarrón Art Gallery, and the historic St. James Hotel, where ghosts are said to haunt certain rooms. After what we hope is a good night’s sleep, take NM 21 south through the Philmont Scout Ranch to check out the new National Scouting Museum. The road bends east just below the Kit Carson Museum and leads to Springer, where you can admire the Second Empire–style architecture of the Colfax County Museum. Take US 56 east and, at Abbott, drop south on NM 39, through the Kiowa National Grasslands. Fill up on gas at Harding County’s only station, in Roy, then bunk up at Mosquero’s Rectory, a restored parsonage with highend finishes. Bend an elbow at Callahan West Brewery and gobble a burger at Headquarters restaurant. On day three, continue south to Logan, with a side trip to Ute Lake State Park, then glide down US 54 into Tucumcari, with its neon-lined strip of Route 66 nostalgia and child-delighting Mesalands Dinosaur Museum.
Day Two: From Las Vegas, go north on picturesque NM 518. At Sapello, take NM 94 northwest to Mora. There, you can take a tour of the Mora Valley Spinning Mill and shop for woolly goodies, local crafts, and chokecherry jam at its store, Tapetes de Lana. Pet adorable alpacas at the Victory Ranch, just north of town, and purchase fuzzy scarves, caps, and socks at its store. Stock up on a New Mexico staple at Teresa’s Tamales, which draws national fame to the wee town of Cleveland. Spend the night either camping at Storrie Lake State Park, a jewel north of Las Vegas off NM 518, or at the Pendaries Golf Resort, south of Mora. Driving west on NM 518 out of Mora, pause at La Cueva Farm, where you can pick your own bounty of raspberries, if they’re ripe, or purchase them and other berry delights in the shop.
Day Three: After waking up in the historic Plaza Hotel, in Las Vegas, visit the Rough Riders Museum and take a walking tour of the town’s rich architectural legacy. (Get info at the Las Vegas Citizens Committee for Historic Preservation, on Bridge Avenue.) Take I-25 south to NM 3 south, at Ribera. Pull into La Risa General Store for a smorgasbord of home-baked goods—pies, muffins, cookies, and jalapeño cornbread. Continue on I-25, then break off onto NM 63 to the town of Pecos and eat like a local: Frankie’s at the Casanova serves northern New Mexico cuisine amid Old West trappings.
If you were planning on heading to Carlsbad Caverns National Park or White Sands National Monument…
Here are 3 itineraries for you to check out southeastern New Mexico.
Day One: For a first-time visitor, the Sacramento Mountains are a splendid and surprising oasis in southeast New Mexico, with peaks nearly 12,000 feet high and endless miles of ponderosa pine trees in the Lincoln National Forest. Ruidoso, perched smack-dab in the middle of them, is a mountain town paradise. The main street is lined with cute wooden storefronts. Stop by Noisy Water Winery to pick up a bottle of locally made cab. Nearby Ski Apache, run by the Mescalero Apache tribe, has a gondola that accesses pristine pistes and glades for skiers and snowboarders, as well as a thrilling zipline. About 45 miles south, at nearly 9,000 feet, Cloudcroft delivers Western heritage with a creative vibe. Burro Avenue feels like the Old West and is lined with storefronts—like the friendly Burro Street Bakery. Also worth a visit is the authentic Texas-style Mad Jack’s Mountaintop Barbecue and the new Cloudcroft Brewing Company, which serves up local brews and tasty wood-fired pizza. If you’re up for an outdoor adventure, head to Ski Cloudcroft or Trestle Recreation Area, which has views all the way to White Sands. Stay in the iconic, and apparently haunted, Lodge Resort & Spa, a favorite among Texan tourists. On the way out of the Sacramento Mountains, it’s worth a visit to Oliver Lee State Memorial Park, near Alamogordo. Camp in the Chihuahuan Desert or take a stroll on the Riparian Nature Trail. For something a little more adventurous, enjoy the stunning views along Dog Canyon Trail.
Oliver Lee State Memorial Park
Day Two: Northwest of Carlsbad Caverns National Park exists Sitting Bull Falls: a series of dramatic waterfalls and pools in the Lincoln National Forest. Hike it if you’re feeling ambitious, or simply drive. While you’re in the area, Iit’s worth spending a night or two in Carlsbad. Check in to the Trinity Hotel, a restored turn-of-the-century bank building, or Fiddler’s Inn Bed and Breakfast, which has quaint rooms in a historic home downtown. Blue House Bakery and Café, Carlsbad’s only real sit-down coffeehouse, also serves fresh pastries and hot breakfasts in a homey bungalow. Yellow Brix has lunch and dinner inside a historic house and outside on a huge patio. Lucky Bull Grill, in the Old City Hall, is a hot spot for lunch and dinner, with New Mexico beers and live music at night. Milton’s Brewing pours its own beers, plus wine from Tularosa Vineyards and Artesia’s Cottonwood Winery. Guadalupe Mountain Brewing serves craft brews plus wines from Ruidoso’s Noisy Water Winery.
Day Three: Alamogordo is an ideal launchpad for both the Lincoln National Forest and Oliver Lee State Park. It’s also home to a few cultural marvels of its own, including the New Mexico Museum of Space History, New Horizons Dome Theater and Planetarium, and the Tularosa Basin Museum of History. About 110 miles east, Artesia has a little-known art scene. The 1952 Peter Hurd mural The Future Belongs to Those Who Prepare for It is secured nine feet above the Artesia Public Library floor and is a sight to behold. The Ocotillo Performing Arts Center attracts big events to the intimate venue. If it’s an underground art scene you’re after, head 40 miles north to Roswell. While the International UFO Museum and Research Center offers a great way to experience the town’s more well-known claim to fame, the Roswell Museum and Art Center started as a WPA art-training center where people like Hurd earned enough money to stick with his glorious paintings. It now celebrates the entire southeast region’s art and history. Down the street, the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art displays 51 years’ worth of artist-in-residence works, including those of New Mexico standouts like Luis Jiménez, Edie Tsong, and Jerry West.
New Mexico Museum of Space History
If you were planning on heading to Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument or Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument…
Day One: Grab the hiking boots, because with any luck you’ll spend more time tramping through scenic parks and wilderness areas than behind the wheel. Start with a strong cup of joe from Javalina Coffeehouse, in Silver City, before cruising up the winding NM 15 to the Gila Wilderness, where you’ll find ancient mining towns couched within the world’s first designated wilderness. You could easily spend an entire day (or more) exploring the 558,000-acre space, but for now, stash the boots and enjoy the drive back south to Deming via NM 35 to NM 61. A side trip to City of Rocks State Park, north of Deming, offers a stark contrast to the vegetation of the Gila, although the trails, surrounded by dramatic rock formations, plus abundant bird-watching and a botanical garden make it an oasis in its own right. Final stop: Rockhound State Park, southeast of Deming, where visitors can collect the many agates.
Day Two: You might want to brush up on your chile knowledge by swinging through the Chile Pepper Institute’s self-guided gardens (June–October) on the New Mexico State University campus. Then it’s on to Hatch, where you can field-test your knowledge in this small community that is home to an annual chile festival as well as farms full of the fruit. You can’t miss Sparky’s, a local institution surrounded by giant fiberglass statues and a big reputation for barbecue and all things chile, including a green chile shake. From there it’s on to Truth or Consequences, where, if you’re not overheated from the Hatch chile, you might want to take a dip in one of the local hot springs bathhouses. Nearby, Lakeshore Road ambles alongside New Mexico’s biggest lake at Elephant Butte Lake State Park, where boating and beach lounging are the main pursuits. Just another hour north is a 57,331-acre bird nerd’s paradise, Bosque del Apache. A vast array of migratory waterfowl stop here to rest, including sandhill cranes, whose wacky mating dance draws huge numbers of spectators in the winter. If you missed your food stop at Sparky’s, aim for nearby San Antonio, where the Owl Bar and Café lays claim to serving up the best green chile cheeseburgers in the state.
Elephant Butte Lake State Park
Day Three: Start by capturing the morning light hitting San Miguel Mission de Socorro, a stunning church founded in the late 1500s and restored in 2015. Once you leave Socorro, cows begin to outnumber cars, which is why it’s a surprise to come upon 27 massive radio antennas scattered across the desert at the Very Large Array, 50 miles west of town. You can take a self-guided tour or plan it just right and join a guided one on a select Saturday. Keep traveling west and US 60 will take you through a long valley interrupted by the Sawtooth Mountains and the ultimate goal for the day: a flaky, fruity treat in Pie Town. Sample an unusually varied range of pies, from pecan to chocolate buttermilk. Once the sun goes down, plan to land back in Magdalena, for a stargazing party at the Magdalena Ridge Observatory.