Fly into Albuquerque and spend the first night there. The Frontier or the Flying Star restaurants are good dinner options if you arrive late. If you stay near the airport, you could eat at the K&I Diner early the next morning, then drive to Acoma Pueblo (~ 1-1.5 hrs). Take the tour, have lunch at the casino, and then back to I-25 south via the NM-6 shortcut. Drive to Socorro on I-25 then west on US-60 to the Very Large Array (VLA). In the evening you may want to try the Bosque del Apache, not so much for the sunset (which I think can be impressive; see the lead photo in my Albuquerque travelogue on southern NM) but for the birds. In the winter, the evening is when they all return after being out feeding in the valley during the day.
Spend the second night in Socorro after dinner at the Owl Café in San Antonio. The next day see the Valley of Fires and Three Rivers Petroglyphs on US-380 and US-54, respectively. If you have time, you may want to stop at the Space Museum in Alamogordo. You want to be at the White Sands National Monument in the late afternoon and for the evening tour. Note that it will cool off very quickly in the evening at most times of the year.
Spend the third night in Alamogordo. Drive to Carlsbad Caverns via Artesia, Carlsbad, and White City (US-82/285/62). You definitely want to make it in time for a natural entrance tour; the last one is at 2:30 PM.
Spend the fourth night in Carlsbad or Roswell, depending on when you finish your tour of the caverns. Get an early start the next day if you are in Carlsbad. You can do the UFO museum in Roswell in about an hour, then head to Santa Fe via US-285 (~3 hrs). You will for sure want to spend more time in Santa Fe than Roswell. Depending on the time of your flight out of Albuquerque the next day, spend the fifth night in Santa Fe or Albuquerque; however, don’t underestimate the traffic on I-25 between Santa Fe and Albuquerque if you decide to spend the fifth night in Santa Fe. This is a lot of driving in just a few days but you will see some amazing things.
Fondest memory: I know this may seem strange, but driving through the tiny town of Des Moines on US-87, I found this phone booth. I have noticed that there are very few actual standing phone booths in existence and the numbers of cell phones continue to rise. Possibly, they will disappear alltogether. Who knows?
every day we were here we saw elk. These are much bigger than deer and it's amazing to watch groups of up to 40 grazing while one or two of them act as lookouts for any type of danger. People do hunt elk, and for the most part use the meat as opposed to pure sport hunting for the sake of hunting.
One morning I woke and watch 7 Elk feed just 20 feet from my front door for a good 15 minutes. incredible.
Favorite thing: For whatever rerason, New Mexico is nicknamed "Land of Enchantment." License plates and other things to promote tourism have this phrase on them. New Mexico is kind of enchanting in a way...very beautiful, and some areas around Albequerque will take your breath away!
The yellow flag and red symbol on it are the colors of Spain. The red symbol represents a red sun with rays streching out from it. This is an ancient sun symbol of a Native American people called the Zia who believed that the giver of all good gave them gifts in groups of four. These gifts are:
-The four directions - north, east, south and west.
-The four seasons - spring, summer, fall and winter.
-The day - sunrise, noon, evening and night.
-Life itself - childhood, youth, middle years and old age.
All of these are bound by a circle of life and love, without a beginning or end.
The story of Lisle Updike and William Pennington, photographers in the early 1900's, is an amazing tale. For those of you who's passion is photography, you owe it to yourself to find a copy of the book about their work and review their early glass plates which documented the culture of the southwest and its people in such a sensistive and dramatic way. Their work is so important in capturing so many lost arts, culture, and landscapes of the southwest and its people in the early 1900's. Whether photographing Santa Fe, a Zuni village, a Navajo woman or an Apache man...their skills with a camera are amazing. I couldn't resist sharing a few of their photos with you here.
NOTICE THE MASTERFUL WORK ON DEPTH OF FIELD WITH SUCH PRIMITIVE PHOTOGRAPHIC EQUIPMENT.
I will also include a picture of the cover of their book so you can find it thru your local bookstore, library, or Amazon.com.
I hope you will enjoy these images as much as I have.
Santa Fe is one of the most interesting places I've ever been to!
The main plaza is beautiful and there are lots of little shops where you can buy cheap souvenirs (Indian stuff). I think near the citys there is an Indian village (you have to pay an entrance fee) but I'm not sure...
And if you're in New Mexico visit Mesa Verde as well-the view is beautiful and the whole place is amazing. If there's silence you can even imagine how life was back then when people still used to live there.
Fondest memory: I bought ocarina and cocopel painting in New Mexico and every time I see them they remind me of beautiful Santa Fe. What I will never forget is the view of sun going down and me standing in the middle of nowhere in this beautiful land of Indians.
We don't often get the opportunity to travel to the way northern part of New Mexico, so it was a MUST DO when we mapped out our trip from the north-western tip of the USA while making our way south. I love looking at the southwestern style of landscaping ... Santa Fe is over flowing in this style! Though the capitol building didn't particularly strike me as a southwestern structure, it was brimming over inside with southwestern flavor.
Fondest memory: We had fun looking over ALL the county flags, hunting for my husbands hometown (county) flag.
I'm definitely a "drive around" kinda tourist ... I love to drive around and see all the local sights. To overlook the quaint southwestern history is to miss the whole picture. The state bird for New Mexico is the roadrunner.
Fondest memory: Wherever you go in New Mexico (away from the city limits), be on the lookout for a roadrunner . . . they may not be as quick as Looney Toons makes them out to be, but they're pretty quick, and not all that common to see. We found this one in a cemetery in the Mayhill area.
West of Taos,NM on the way to Tierra Amarilla you can see this unusual village.
All the houses here are energeticaly independent and self sufficient.
All these houses collect their own power from the sun and wind,collect their own water from rain and snow melt and are constructed using largely the byproducts of modern society;
like cans, bottles and tires.
... and look nice.
One house is open for public, there is a library with some books about an earthship technologies, so you can see how it works.
New Mexican food is different from other ethnic food that have 'Mexican' in their name.
New Mexican food is a combination of Mexican, Spanish and Native American cuisine. Tortillas, pinto beans (frijoles), papas (potatoes), ground beef, sopapillas, and chile are found on all New Mexico restaurant menus.
A variant of the usual tortilla out here is the blue corn tortilla ... it is sweeter than standard corn tortillas, smooth to the palate and a wonderful ingredient of local enchiladas (tortilla, cheese, onions, and a meat if you choose). One thing to be aware of though .... if you take your blue corn whatever home to re-heat for later, the blue leaches into the cheese and turns the cheese a terrible grey color :) Still tastes great, just don't look at your plate and you'll be fine.
Sopapillas are a variant of Native fry bread (sometimes called Indian Fry bread). It is light and airy and deep fried. The oil's heat works with the batter to create a large air pocket in the batter. So when it arrives at your table, they look like little pillows ..... don't lay your head upon them though - rip them in half and smother the insides w/ the honey on the table. Then you eat this wonderful local treat :)
A variety of cultures has led to unique art forms and culinary treats. One such local treat is the use of chile .... hence our state question: Red or Green? that diners are asked almost everywhere ...... you'll be offered chile on your eggs, burgers, steak, chicken, and just about everything you are served.
The two local styles of chile are unique to New Mexico and refer to red or green chile ;)
Red chile has a sharper flavor, and I find it more hot than flavorful.
Green chile is addictive (I'm convinced it's somehow related to THC). It has a richer flavor and is usually more mild than the red. But some green chile is so hot your hair will stand on end.
'Christmas' is a phrase to use when you want BOTH red and green chile on your meal - most of my friends prefer this mix over having to choose :)
Of course, if you are a wimp like me - order your chile choice 'on the side'
"Touring New Mexico" is a wonderful guidebook w/ 18 tours included in it's chapters. Each tour offers a different view of this beautiful state. 2 of the included tour chapters are specific for Albuquerque and Santa Fe. the remaining 16 tours provide information on how to do a partial tour in a weekend, or a longer tour.
The tours include local cultures, events, as well as natural wonders. One chapter even has an event calender w/ contact information that allows the traveler to investigate various events that one might find interesting ....
I highly recommend this book for travelers entering NM for the first, or 20th time - as well as for us locals ;)
Fondest memory: Details:
"Touring New Mexico"
Authors: Arango, Chilton, Chilton, Dudley & McEnearney-Stelzner
University of New Mexico Press
I bought mine at the local Border's Book store for less than $15.00 ........
Favorite thing: I really enjoyed the changing scenery as I drove around New Mexico's upper regions. After winding my way up the Jemez River valley, the hot lowlands gave way to an amazing large open valley surrounded by Ponderosa Pines. I later found out that Valle Grande is a 1-million year old caldera that measures 14 miles from rim-to-rim. When it blew, it expelled 600 times more material than did the Mt. St. Helens eruption. This was formerly a cattle ranch but it has now been purchased to be included in the National Recreation Area there. I stopped to take a photo but the vista was so wide that I could not capture it all. From there, as I approached Los Alamos, the beauty of the scenery was marred by the effects of the major forest fire that struck this area in the summer of 2002. You could see that it burned right up to the edge of town. Los Alamos itself was different - this experimental lab located in the remote mountains of New Mexico to dabble in various 'black' sciences. It had a number of strange shaped buildings scattered about but seemed like quite a nice little spot with its streets and shopping area. On leaving Los Alamos, there was an amazing site of some white rock formations as the road descended back down toward Espanola, but again I did not get a shot of them. Later on, the next afternoon, the Angel Fire area east of Taos struck me as being a playground for the rich. Located in a scenic alpine area, it has its golf course, airport and numerous huge resorts and buildings. The drive from Mora to arrive there was interesting though! From there, you traverse a 9000 foot pass in the mountains to descend into Taos and can then enjoy a drive along the Rio Grande River valley as you head south. Major nets and concrete barriers are located at some places along the highway to catch the boulders that occasionally tumble down from the walls of the gorge. Photo of me in the Rio Grande south of Pilar, taken by one of the rafters who was getting ready to set off.
Favorite thing: Quiet trails and vertigo-inducing ladders lead you through honeycombed cliffs, eroded baked-brick walls and natural towers of rock. Though no longer inhabited, the cave-like dwellings carved into the cliffs brought to my mind those famous 'fairy chimney' houses in Cappadocia, Turkey.
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