New Mexico and Southern Colorado: 8 Nights of Natural Wonders, Historic Inns, and Memorable Dining!
Here are the National Parks and National Monuments you may visit along the way:
- El Morro National Monument, New Mexico
- El Malpais National Monument, New Mexico
- Petroglyph National Monument, New Mexico
- Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico
- Pecos National Historical Park, New Mexico
- Chaco Culture National Historical Park, New Mexico
- Aztec Ruins National Monument, New Mexico
- Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
Since you’ll be visiting so many National Historical Parks and Monuments, the most economical way to pay for your entrance fees is to purchase a pass (see http://www.nps.gov/findapark/passes.htm) An annual pass is $80, but Seniors age 62 and over may purchase a Lifetime Pass for just $10. Each spring, there is a National Park Week offering free admittance.
There are other interesting things to do on this itinerary, such as visiting the most popular attraction in New Mexico (Albuquerque’s BioPark) and the Cooking School of Santa Fe.
You will find detailed contact information on places to stay at the end of the 8-day itinerary.
(Beginning at Interstate 40 in Arizona)
Visit two National Monuments near the Arizona/New Mexico border, just a short detour off I-40 as you head east from Arizona and travel toward New Mexico. Since your first lodging destination is Albuquerque, you may have time to pull off the road at a couple spots to visit a pair of New Mexico National Monuments. El Morro National Monument is 125 miles (2.5 hours by car) west of Albuquerque. As always, we recommend stopping at the visitor center and watching the introductory video (15 min.) if you have time. If you’re in a hurry, just walk the .5 mile Inscription Rock Trail loop. El Morro (Spanish, “The Headland”), is a great sandstone promontory with a pool of water at its base. Anglo-Americans called it Inscription Rock. Ancient Puebloans, Spaniards and early American pioneers carved evidence of their passages on the rock face.
A few miles to the east (as you continue heading toward Albuquerque) is another National Monument, El Malpais (“the Badlands”). Once again, providing you have the time, you may visit lava tube caves and ice caves in this land of volcanic lava flows.
Continue east on I-40 to Albuquerque and find Cinnamon Morning Bed & Breakfast.
Plan to spend the day visiting some of the high points of Albuquerque. Just a few miles away from Cinnamon Morning Bed & Breakfast be sure to check out the rock art at Petroglyph National Monument, containing over 20,000 images pecked in stone—some recognizable as animals, people, and crosses, and others more mysterious. Another short drive away is the historic plaza area of old town Albuquerque, where you may visit shops, galleries and pick up lunch or a snack. Then check out the Number One Attraction in New Mexico: Albuquerque’s BioPark, featuring a botanic garden, aquarium and zoo! Then, for a great finish to a full day, head to La Salita restaurant for a fantastic meal representing the best of New Mexico’s fine southwest cuisine.
Take the scenic Turquoise Trail north from Albuquerque (instead of I-25) toward Santa Fe, a road that leads past a number of historic mining towns. Check in at the Hotel St. Francis, grab a walking map of downtown Santa Fe from the front desk and take yourself on a discovery tour of the historic Plaza area. Recommended: Visit the Georgia O’Keeffe museum as you saunter past the street vendors selling jewelry and various objets d’art around the plaza.
Attend a class at the Santa Fe School of Cooking followed by lunch there. Then take a 30-mile drive over to Pecos National Historical Park where archeologist A.V. Kidder from 1915-27 discovered a treasure trove of artifacts in great trash mounds to identify periods of occupation in Pecos by changes in pottery styles of the Pueblo people. Be sure to make reservations well in advance for dining at Bouche Bistro, one of Santa Fe’s finest dining establishments where you may enjoy French cuisine at an affordable price.
On your way north to Taos from Santa Fe, take a slight detour to visit Bandelier National Monument. Take the loop trail and see the Ancestral Pueblo cliff dwellings that can be walked in about an hour. Once in Taos, check in a Touchstone Inn.
Spend the day visiting the historic Plaza area of Taos where you’ll find a myriad of shops, galleries and cafes. There are also several art museums to visit while you’re in Taos. Drive the 2.5-3 hour Enchanted Circle Loop Tour to find spectacular scenery and quaint villages. Check out the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge that stands 650 feet over the Rio Grande River, awarded the “Most Beautiful Steel Bridge” in the long span category by the American Institute of Steel Construction.
On your way to Durango, Colorado, visit Chaco Culture National Historical Park, one of the oldest centers for ancestral Puebloan peoples where, from the mid-800s and for over 300 years thereafter, monumental architecture housed a complex community and social organization. Several thousand people may have lived here at one time, making it one of the largest Puebloan settlements in the Southwest. Continue to Durango, Colorado and check in at the historic Rochester Hotel.
Check out the Narrow Gauge Railroad at the station and consider taking a round-trip train to Silverton, a little over 45 miles away. Explore the history, sights and sounds of Durango’s downtown historic district and walk along the paths next to the Animas River where there are fishing and whitewater rafting opportunities. Take a drive just across the border to New Mexico and visit Aztec Ruins National Monument. Then, to cap off your day, head over to the Seasons of Durango restaurant where you can enjoy American rotisserie dining at its best.
If you’re headed back to Arizona, on your way out of Durango, be sure to visit the spectacular cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park.
Here are the folks you’ll want to contact to set up your itinerary:
Bed & Breakfast
2700 Rio Grande Blvd. NW
Albuquerque, NM 87104
Sue Percilick, Innkeeper
1217 Eubank Blvd. NE
Albuquerque, NM 87112
Hotel St. Francis
210 Don Gaspar Avenue
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
Reservations Toll Free: 800-529-5700
Santa Fe School of Cooking
125 N Guadalupe St
Santa Fe, NM 87501
451 West Alameda St.
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
Bistro (505) 982-6297
Office (505) 820-9268
Gallery & Spa
110 Mabel Dodge Lane
PO Box 1885
Taos, New Mexico 87571
Leland House and the Rochester Hotel & Bar
Luxury Accommodations in the Spirit of the Old West
726 East Second Avenue
Durango, CO 81301
Seasons of Durango
764 Main Avenue