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Yes, You Should Visit New Mexico

If you read my last post, you already know that Santa Fe isn't exactly ranking in the top ten places I've been as a nomad. But, that doesn't mean you shouldn't visit. The city - and all of New Mexico - is a great place for a vacation or two or three. 

That's actually how I ended up here. When I lived in Colorado, I came down to New Mexico three separate times on holiday and always had a fabulous time. So I wondered what it would be like to actually live in Santa Fe, and I put it on my list of places that I might want to settle permanently when I get tired of all this traveling. But those visits were before I lived for five years in Boulder, and as I said last week, Santa Fe is just so Boulder and I've been there, done that, need to be surrounded by different people. 

Also because I've been to New Mexico before, there's a lot I didn't do on this trip. For example, I'd already been to:

Plus I've already seen all the big tourist sites in Santa Fe and done some amazing hikes in the surrounding areas. 

But don't think I sat around and did nothing this time. Okay, I kind of did for the first half of my trip. But then I got out of my funk and did a ton of stuff, met up with some people I already knew, and met some new people, including someone really special which was totally unexpected. Maybe I'll share more on that later, but here are some ideas for day trips from Santa Fe.

San Antonio Hot Springs and Jemez Springs

In summer, the hike to San Antonio Hot Springs is 1.5 miles each way. In the winter, it's almost five, but you probably won't need snowshoes because most likely, other people have trampled a path. If you go up from Santa Fe through Los Alamos, you'll have to go through a bizarre government checkpoint where the lab is, but if you go around Bandelier National Monument way, you bypass it. Both drives are beautiful. And if you go the longer way through Bernalillo, you can stop and eat at Los Ojos and see the Jemez Springs Soda Dam

Ghost Ranch at Abiquiu

The famous Ghost Ranch, where Georgia O'Keeffe made some of her beautiful paintings, has excellent hikes that are worth the $10 property entrance fee. There are also two really interesting museums included in the fee. One explains all the paleontology work that has gone on there and all the dinosaur fossils that have been found. The other tells the history of some of the native populations and the history of a lot of super bad-ass pioneer women that came out to the ranch in early days. En route, you can stop at the official Georgia O'Keeffe welcome center, explore some ruins, or visit some galleries (in the high season).

The Turquoise Trail

This Santa Fe to Albuquerque national scenic byway has lots of small towns, most notably Madrid, with art galleries and cafes. In the winter, many of the galleries in the smaller towns will be closed, but the drive itself is nice, as is roaming around looking at the architecture.


Albuquerque Day

There's a lot to do in Albuquerque but really the only thing I did immediately in the city was visit the Hot Air Balloon Museum. Back along the road to Santa Fe, I went to the Coronado Historic Site and had a fascinating one-hour tour with a docent about the history of the pueblo that used to be there. Then I crossed the highway and went for a brief hike in the Sandia Mountains along the Sandia Cave Trail. You'll need four-wheel drive to get up to the trailhead in winter. The road is not maintained and is very icy.

Bandelier National Monument

You can spend a whole day exploring Bandelier National Monument, but if you go in winter, bring a picnic because the cafe is closed. There are dwellings built into the cliffside and you can even crawl into some of them and up to some of them on tall, unguarded ladders, if you aren't afraid of heights. There are nature hikes as well, like the one to the falls. There are also several campgrounds if you want to stay a little longer.

Meow Wolf

This is not a day trip, but an in-town activity - the famous original Santa Fe Meow Wolf. If you don't already know, Meow Wolf is half-mystery, half-psychedelic trip. You roam around dozens and dozens of bizarrely decorated rooms. I opted to not solve the mystery but just enjoy the experience instead. The Santa Fe version is a house; the Vegas version (which I think is better) is a supermarket. The one in Santa Fe also hosts special event nights and concerts, so check their calendar before deciding when to go.


This one is definitely not a day trip - it's way down south on the border with Arizona - and it's not much to see, but it was right up my alley. You can make a weekend of it and hike in the Gila Wilderness, or visit one of the other places I mentioned at the start of this post that are in southern New Mexico. Rather than explain it, I'll let Cabinetlandia speak for itself.