New Mexico is known as the ‘Land of enchantments’ because of its natural beauty. The New Mexico Road Trip Destinations will help us explore the beauty.
It has a rich history which has a lot of Spanish influence and is therefore at times it’s also known as ‘The Spanish State’ or ‘Nuevo Mexico’. A famous quote by D.H. Lawrence goes like this, “Touch the country of New Mexico, and you will never be the same again.’ And went on to say, ‘I think New Mexico was the greatest experience from the outside world that I have ever had.”
So let’s begin our road trip covering most of the amazing attractions of this southwestern state! If you are a budget tourist, you also can check cheap things to do in New Mexico.
But before that, have a quick look at all the beautiful new Mexico road trip attractions that offers through the below slides:
‘The City Different’ & Neighboring New Mexico Road Trip Destinations
Santa Fe, also known as the City Different is the capital of New Mexico and is the starting point of our road trip destinations.
Main attractions near Santa Fe
Santa Fe is one of the world’s most renowned Art cities with galleries sprawled over everywhere, Canyon Road being one of the most visited places here. It was founded by Spanish colonists and its literal translation from Spanish is ‘Holy Faith.’
Museums, Art & Culture
It is a hub of cultural activities and therefore a destination for art and music lovers. One of the most visited new Mexico road trip destinations here is the Opera house which has hosted operas and shows each summer since 1957. It is an open-roof theatre surrounded by mountain ranges presenting a brilliant culmination of nature and culture. Another attraction here is the multitude of museums for history and art lovers. Visiting the city can take you back in the time of Spanish rule and the American uprising.
Chapels and Cathedrals
Chapels and Cathedrals are also pretty common in the city, Loretto Chapel being a famous one, known for its spiral staircase and The Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi is another beautifully architectured building.
Historic national monuments
A 1-hour road journey from Santa Fe towards the west can take you to either Bandelier national monument or Kasha Katuwe Tent Rock national monument situated just 40 miles apart from each other. Bandelier is spread across an area of approximately 33,000 acres and has preserved the homes of Puebloans from the 1100 A.D. and later. Further, the place displays several petroglyphs, cave dwellings, and volcanic tuffs homes. It is an awesome spot for hiking or visiting the unexcavated ruins.
Kasha Katuwe Tent Rocks are situated on the Pajarito plateau and are an extraordinary destination to see how the geological action has led to the formation of the landscapes here. There are many cone-shaped rock formations here formed as an outcome of volcanic eruptions 6 to 7 million years ago. It is a unique spot to visit and is interesting for those interested in geology or simply want to experience a new sight. You may even like to climb the formations that are 750 ft high to enjoy the panoramic view from the top, or you may simply accomplish some of the hiking trails here. These two are must-go destinations on the Santa Fe road trip.
Taos: Adobe building & Puebloan History
70 miles to the north of Santa Fe is the town of Taos known for historic Adobe buildings, Taos Pueblo being the most famous one as it hosts several multi-storied Adobe buildings with a backdrop of snow-covered mountain peaks. Adobe is the Spanish for mudrock and is a kind of material that has been used in the construction of these buildings and therefore it is a part of the Spanish heritage of the state.
Rio Grande Bridge & Wilderness Areas
Rio Grande Gorge and the Bridge is the next new Mexico road trip destination on the itinerary. The gorge is 900ft deep and the bridge is situated 600ft above the River Rio Grande. It is one of the tallest bridges in the entire US and a great feat of engineering. Another attractive activity here and in other parts of the state is hot air ballooning, which starts at the edge of the gorge and takes you high up in the sky. To enjoy the picturesque beauty of pine trees and autumn hues, you may even visit the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Study Area
Chaco Canyon: A fun family time
The last destination on this The City Different road trip is Chaco Canyon National Historical Park. It will take you close to 3 hours by road to reach this destination from Santa Fe but it is worthwhile. You can explore the 100-year-old city, which is a long long time ago considering that the US itself is just 250 years old. This is a historical site inhabited by the Puebloans in those times, as is most of New Mexico so you can witness the remains of that civilization here, an attractive spot for historians and archaeologists. You can even take the night sky tours or go hiking or even camping. It could be a great learning experience.
So we have covered a 300-mile trip from Taos to the Chaco National Park…It would be an enriching experience when taken in small doses over a week’s time so that you enjoy it to the fullest…
‘The Duke City’ & Neighboring Road Trip Destinations
The next road trip in New Mexico surrounds the largest city of Albuquerque named after the Duke of Albuquerque and therefore also known as the Duke city…
Albuquerque: Balloons and More
Albuquerque(ABQ) shows the contrast of a modern downtown lined with bars, pubs, and diners and is a buzzing industrial area too, while the old town is full of old architecture, Puebloan sites, and adobe buildings. One of the major attractions of the city is the ABQ Biopark, which has many natural attractions such as an aquarium displaying the saltwater species of the Gulf of Mexico, including corals and estuaries. It also has botanical gardens with flora from the Mediterranean and the Desert and therefore the state is also known as the Cactus state at times because of its warm climate and desert lands.
International Balloon Festival & More
Further, there is the Rio Grande zoo housing 250 species including polar bears, snow leopards, seals, and others! Last but not least is the Tingley beach great for fishing and relaxing. In October, the city hosts one of its most popular festivals, the International Balloon Fiesta, in which close to 1,000 colorful hot air balloons are released into the skies and it is an amazing sight in itself. It attracts balloonists from all over the world. You can even ride these balloons!
Aerial Cable Cars
Another enjoyable experience this city has to offer is the Sandia Peak Tramway which takes you to the Sandia mountains from the ABQ in aerial cable cars which span for close to 8000 feet and are the world’s longest single-span rides. It is a thrilling experience.
South-west and South East Road Trips from ABQ
Heading south from ABQ, there can be two road trips, one towards the south-west and the other towards the south-east, each will take close to 6 hours and cover close to 320 miles…
South-west Trip: National Radio Astronomy Observatory
On the south-west road trip, the first stop is the Very large array which is the National radio astronomy observatory and has 28 radio telescopes with disks having a diameter of 25-meters. These telescopes capture high-res images of outer space. This was the place where the Jodie Foster movie, Contact was filmed. There are guided tours available here and visitors can also participate in the viewing of the night sky. There is a visitor’s center displaying the past images of the space.
The final stop is the Gila Cliff Dwellings national monument as the name suggests, is a natural escape featuring cliff dwellings rich in the history of Mogollon Culture. As other natural stops, this also allows a lot of outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, picnicking, camping, and exploring the sites from historic and archaeological interests. You can even take your vehicle and go for scenic drives.
South-east Trip: Deserts, Dunes & Caves
On the south-east road trip, the first stop is the White sands national monument, one of the most magical sites in all of New Mexico. Located amid the Northern Chihuahuan Desert, it is known for the dunes made of gypsum and therefore white in color. People enjoy the views presented at the time of sunset and sunrise. It is an unforgettable experience, as it is something you might have never seen before. You may have a glimpse of the San Andres mountains on the horizon. You can go Dune driving, hiking, biking, and have a blast.
The final stop of New Mexico road trip destinations is Carlsbad National Park and Caverns which is 3 hours away from the dunes and is another delight of the Chihuahuan Desert. It hosts more than 100 caves having stalagmite conical rock formations protruding from the ceiling of the caves among many other attractions. There are self-guided and ranger-guided tours to the caves.
The Slaughter Canyon tour allows you to take your own vehicle inside the cave, which could be an exciting and intriguing experience. At the time of sunset, you can see the sky filled with hundreds of bats leaving the caves and heading for their nightly excursion, later at night, there are telescope programs to view the night sky and could be an enriching experience for children and adults alike. However, the minimum age for this program, which is the part of the moon hiking trail, is six so that is a point to be noted. It is a fascinating way to end your road trip.
So this was it for the New Mexico road trip destinations, hope you find it helpful to plan your trip and have a great time! Check out the best vacation rental from Rental Trader. You can also learn more about Mexico vacation rentals. If you have any more queries about the road trip destinations, please fill out our web form or give us a call.