scenic routes in New Mexico

Jul 6th, 2005, 05:13 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
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scenic routes in New Mexico

My sister and I are going back for our second trip to the Sante Fe area in August. We want to go on scenic routes in that area that we didn't have time for the last time we went. I've read all of the postings on New Mexico.

We were thinking of staying in Santa Fe two nights and then going up to Taos to see one scenic area (an 84 mile loop to the east of Taos) after that. We feel that getting to Taos will take at least and hour and a half and that the 84 miles will take quite a while. We were thinking that, rather than drive back to Santa Fe, we should stay in Taos that night. Then we could take another scenic route from Taos (maybe North) the next day. Does this make sense to those of you who know this area? If not, would you recommend either going back to Santa Fe or staying somewhere else? The only scenic routes we went on last time were Sante Fe to Taos and a route (absolutely breathtaking) that went from Santa Fe to Bandolier, near Los Alamos and down to Albuquerque I think through Jemez.

Unfortunately we only have five days. Any help about where to go and where to stay would be appreciated. It is scenery with limited hiking that we are interested in this trip. We are flying into Albuquerque.
worf is offline  
Jul 6th, 2005, 06:04 PM
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If you haven't taken the Turquoise trail from ABQ to Santa Fe then I would definitely do that either the day you fly into ABQ and go to Santa Fe or when you go back to the airport depending on the timing of your plans. It is a beautiful drive/ scenic route and you can stop in Madrid midway through and do some shopping or browsing at the art gallerys and shops there and have lunch in the Mine Shaft Tavern.
My husband and I are going in to the area in August and we are also going to do the Enchanted Circle. I made a reservation at Angel Fire which is right off of the loop on the south-east area. I tried to get a reservation at the Angel Fire Resort which is popular for skiers in the winter but they had a two night minimum. I made a reservation at the Elk Horn Lodge and it is @ 80.00 a night. Our plan is to leave Santa Fe in the morning around 8:00 and drive to Las Vegas then on up 518 then 434 through Black Lake, Angel Fire, Eagle Nest, and Red River. Then we will work our way back and maybe go slightly east to Cimarron State Park which I have read is very pretty. You can drive through the 8 mile park and it has a river with a canyon and hiking. Then we will go to Angel Fire for the one night. The lady at the Elk Horn Lodge told me that if we had seen the Rio Grande Gorge that is west of Taos then we may as well not complete the whole loop because the part between Taos north through Questa to Red River is not that pretty compared to the rest. But she recommended Red River, Eagle Nest and Angel Fire.
The next morning we are going to head west on the rest of the loop to Taos and we will probably take 68 from Taos back to Santa Fe. The High Road is another beautiful scenic Rte. from Taos to Santa Fe but we have done that a couple of times.
The drive from Taos to Durango is also very pretty, big green hills, lots of trees and very different from the other areas but you probably wouldn't want to go all the way with your time limit.
I would like to hear more about your drive through Jemez to ABQ. We have been to Bandelier and Los Alamos also but we have never gone through much of the Jemez area unless that is part of the trip from Santa Fe to Bandelier.
When are you going? We will be back by the 7th of August since we are leaving on July 29 and I might have more insight since we will have executed all of these plans!
If you want more info on any of these ideas, I can probably elaborate a little bit more but you can also find all of this by doing some research.
jet519 is offline  
Jul 6th, 2005, 06:34 PM
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Thanks so much jet 519. I will have to look over all the good information you posted.

We are going August 29th. I have been trying to re-create the scenic route we took over 5+ years ago. There aren't that many roads so my guess is that leaving Bandelier we must have taken route 4 west in the general direction of Los Alamos but not all the way to it. Continuing on 4 we must have turned south and gone through Jemez Springs until we hit route 550 (not very scenic) which we took to Albuquerque. It was pretty slow going on 4 passing through campgrounds and Indian reservations and some very small towns. The changes in scenery were very dramatic and almost other worldly at times. I saw one poster on a previous thread which mentioned that general area and Jemez. The strange thing is that the route we took isn't even marked as scenic on my AAA state map but it must have been on the map of scenic routes around Santa Fe/Albuq area that we got when we were there.
worf is offline  
Jul 6th, 2005, 07:27 PM
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I travel to New Mexico a couple of times a year. We usually ski in Angel Fire, or visit Santa Fe and environs in the summer or fall. We either drive from Texas or fly into ABQ. Twice we've driven through NM on our way to National Parks (Yellowstone and Grand Canyon, north rim).

By far, the most scenic drive to me is the drive between Abiquiu and the Ghost Ranch. It's in the portion of the drive from Santa Fe to Durango, but you don't need to go all the way. Most striking are the red hills.

So decide what you like. If you prefer more traditional mountain scenes with tall trees, any of the drives around the enchanted circle will be great. If you want to see something completely different, try the Abiquiu area. If you like Georgia O'keeffe, her winter home in Abiquiu is open for (very small) guided tours by appointment. My husband and I enjoyed it very much.
follow_your_bliss is offline  
Jul 6th, 2005, 08:40 PM
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follow your bliss,

We do want to see Georgia O'Keefe's house. Will call about tour very soon. Where are the red hills?
worf is offline  
Jul 7th, 2005, 06:12 AM
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As you head north from Abiquiu, the really spectacular scenery begins. Georgia O'keeffe summered at the Ghost Ranch, 14 miles north of Abiquiu, and wintered at her Abiquiu home. This is the area where she painted many of her amazing landscapes. I like the drive up to Tierra Amarilla (Yellow Earth), you can get an idea at the following link: (scroll down).

As a side note, we visited the Christ in the Desert Monastery, (#6 on the map) but I don't recommend that drive if there is even a hint of rain. It is 14 miles down a red earth road that becomes very slippery when wet.
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