Turquoise Trail, Albuquerque
Taking Hwy14 north through the mountains located just east of Albuquerque is a wonderful way to actually experience New Mexico living. You can cut over from I-40 or across the mountain from Placitas off of I-25 if the weather permits.
I usually take I-40 to Cedar Crest and up into Madrid. I can spend a ton of time in Madrid :) Okay can I tell you here I like Madrid MORE than Santa Fe when it comes to art?
Though my pages don't yet reflect it, I do love Santa Fe for it's history ...... :)
This route does take longer than simply taking the interstate, but wandering this highway really allows you to FEEL northern New Mexico, not just pass through. So take the time to drive the Turquoise Trail while you are in the area ..... you won't regret taking the extra time.
Madrid is an old mining town that is now an artists colony. It is fun to go through the shops there. It is between Santa Fe and Albuquerque on the Turquoise Trail (State Highway 14); it takes about 40 minutes to get there. The days of bargin prices are gone now though.
Someone with a sense of humor used to live just south of Madrid on State Highway 14. The little house is partially made out of a railroad car and the bridge from a flatbed trailer. He/She must have been a welder, since the gate is very unique. The "ranch" is abandoned now. Madrid has problems with getting potable water. Maybe that is why the owner left.
Why drive the boring old interstate highway to get from Albuquerque to Santa Fe?
Go the back roads for a much more enjoyable trip. Take the Bernalillo exit to Rte 44 then hang a right at Jemez. then follow signs to Los Alamos (a destination of it's own) and follow signs to Santa Fe. Or, the well known Turquoise Trail along the East face of the Sandia Mountains.
Los Cerrillos, which means little hills, is a village located 27 miles south of Santa Fe just to the west of the Turquoise Trail (State Highway 14). Cerrillos was established in the 1870’s during a gold, silver, lead, zinc and turquoise mining boom but only has about 250 residents now. It was once seriously considered for the capital of New Mexico; however, Santa Fe obviously won out. Rio Galisteo and the railroad run through it. The Diamond T Hacienda is a local guesthouse.
I took this route when heading down from Santa Fe to Albuquerque. It was a very nice drive. In the small town of Cerillos, with it's dirt streets...you feel like you've stepped by in time. Stopped there to browse through the Turquoise Mining/Trading Post, although the name sounds more elaborate than what it actually is...it was still nice browsing around. Bought a turquoise bear fetish here...plenty of turquoise and other mineral rocks, plus various Native American and other crafts you can purchase.
In the little town of Madrid, as well as other stops along this short route, there are plenty of galleries and shops to spend you money at. The little town of Golden is the site of the first gold rush west of the Mississippi in 1825. Also, the world class golf course, Paa-Ko Ridge Golf Club is found along this route.
It's a nice route to take if you're heading from Santa Fe to Abq, or vice versa...as opposed to sticking to the interstate. It might take you slightly longer, but it's a relaxing & interesting drive.
The most famous gold mine is in the Ortiz Mountains near Madrid. However, gold is also found in the San Pedro Mountains south of the Ortiz's near the town of Golden. Most operations are placer mining now but if you have a lot of time, a metal detector and like to hike and dig, you might find specimen nuggets such the ones shown in these pictures.
Wini is graphics artist who was visiting from Hong Kong. Madrid is an artists' haven. She loved the shops there.