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Santa Fe makes a great base for exploring the entire North-central Rio Grande Valley, a region rich in Spanish Colonial and Native American heritage and abounding with scenic drives, dazzling geographical formations, colorful villages, and important historic sites. Every community and attraction covered could be visited as a day trip, but consider planning overnight excursions,
too—you'll find a handful of wonderfully distinctive accommodations in these smaller villages.
It’s also practical to embark on some of these trips en route to Albuquerque or Taos. For example, you could drive the Turquoise Trail or visit Tent Rock National Monument on the way to Albuquerque. The side trips to points north—such as the High Road, Bandelier and Los Alamos, and Abiquiú and Georgia O’Keeffe Country—are worth investigating on your way to Taos.
It's a 20-minute drive north of Santa Fe to reach the Española Valley, where you head west to the striking mesas, cliffs, and valleys that so inspired the artist Georgia O'Keeffe—she lived in this area for the final 50 years of her life. Passing through the small, workaday city of Española, U.S. 84 continues to the sleepy village of Abiquiú and eventually up past Ghost Ranch, areas where O’Keeffe both lived and worked. One other notable community in this area is tiny Ojo Caliente, famous for its hot-springs spa retreat.