- Main Loop Trail – Bandelier National Monument
- Dale Ball Trail North – Santa Fe, NM
The drive from the Great Sand Dunes (Alamosa, CO) to Santa Fe NM was a short and beautiful drive (about 2 1/2 hrs). It was exciting to see the landscape and architecture change as we crossed into New Mexico. We began to see adobe homes in beautiful hues of sand, wheat, and terracotta. Some blend so well into the landscape you have to do a double take. We arrived at our RV campground and got, what seemed like, the best spot in the park. Set away from neighbors, with TWO beautiful trees to provide us shade. A patio set on a level, cement patio and full hook ups. Not bad! We spent the day settling in, grocery shopping and walking around downtown Santa Fe for a bit. We’ve been looking forward to exploring this unique part of the country.
Our second day brought us to the Santa Fe Farmers Market, which is located next to the SF Railyard district. There were stalls lining the street along with a large indoor area. The market is held Tuesdays and Saturdays and sells a large variety of vegetables, herbs, meats, and crafts. Next we made our way to Canyon Road, the famous art gallery district in downtown Santa Fe. Canyon Road is lined with beautiful galleries and restaurants and definitely held an air of sophistication. There was a neat restaurant called The Teahouse that served every kind of tea you could think of in just about every variation there is. There were both traditional and creative items on the menu along with a list of food items. We ordered lavender honey matcha, a Santa Fe spicy mocha, and a slice of pistachio almond cake. Everything was delicious! Canyon Road also has fine examples of adobe architecture. It’s one of my favorite styles, which was made even more beautiful by potted plants and small gardens. Nearly everything was out of our price range but it was still fun to window shop.
We spent our third day in a town called Madrid, about 30 minutes southwest of Santa Fe along the beautiful Turquoise Trail Scenic Byway. The drive out is worth the trip alone! It’s an old mining town that was abandoned after the demand for coal diminished after WWII. It became a ghost town until the 1970’s, when it was rediscovered by artists who turned it into the vibrant creative community it is today. There are many shops, galleries, and restaurants to explore, which made for a nice day trip. We drove through Los Alamos on our way back home, which was an experience. There’s a guard at the entrance of the city that asked us for identification before we were allowed to proceed in. Los Alamos is where they developed the atomic bomb and has since remained an area for government research and development. Museums were closed but it was still neat to tour the town.
Day 4 was spent in Taos NM! I’ve been excited to visit the area, especially for the pueblos. The Pueblo Indians manage the Taos Pueblos and had unfortunately closed the pueblos to the public due to covid19. We were so bummed to find a police officer at the entrance turning cars away. Another time perhaps. Instead, we spent the day exploring downtown Taos. There are restaurants, shops, and galleries dotted along the streets of Taos that can be explored in a couple of hours. We took a drive to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, which rises 600 feet above the Rio Grande. It was a neat piece of engineering to see and provided beautiful views of the gorge. It was a little depressing to find out that it’s a common site for suicide. There are hotline boxes installed along the bridge for those in crisis along with memorials to those who took their life. It was an eerie thing to see. On a lighter note, the drive from Taos back to Santa Fe was beautiful! The landscape is vast with the grand Sangre de Cristo mountain range (14,000+ ft) rising to the east.
We drove to Bandelier National Monument on our 5th day, which is the site of Ancestral Puebloan dwellings. The pueblo structures found here date from 1150 – 1600 AD. The monument is located in the Jemez Mountains on the Parajito Plateau. We took the Main Loop Trail and hiked along the Frijoles Canyon (made up of volcanic rock) to the Alcove House, which was closed for tours due to the pandemic. We were still able to hike to the Long House, which is a series of linked cliff dwellings built into the walls of volcanic cliffs. We stood there trying to imagine what life may have been like for the Anasazi and the Ancestral Puebloans in this canyon.
We enjoyed a down day on our 6th day in Santa Fe just hanging around the RV. I took some time to upload photos, update the website, and do some laundry. We enjoyed a FABULOUS meal at La Choza and learned that if you want both green and red chile on your meal it’s called Xmas style. It’s always nice to have a down day every now and then.
We spent our last day in Santa Fe exploring the downtown area. There are several historic chapels and cathedrals within walking distance of downtown. We were hoping to visit the Museum of International Folk Art and Georgia O’Keeffe Museum but both were closed due to the pandemic. It was nice to see that most people in Santa Fe were wearing masks and distancing. All shops and restaurants required a mask for entry. We visited the Loretto Chapel (19th cent, miraculous staircase), Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis (19th century) with BEAUTIFUL gardens), the Palace of the Governors, and the Santa Fe Plaza. We drove past the State Capital building, which is the oldest capital building in the US built in 1610. We ended our day with an awesome hike on the Dale Ball Trail North. You almost forget the Santa Fe is 7,000 ft in elevation! The hike gave us beautiful views of the city below and of the towering mountains that surround the city. I also saw cactus flowers in bloom along the trail, which I couldn’t help but photograph. I really am obsessed. The trail was such a nice way to end our visit to the artist paradise that is Santa Fe.