I was skeptical, but New Mexico won me over. As we traveled from north to south, stopping at Chama, Taos, Santa Fe and Albuquerque, the arid landscape desiccated my body but offered an intriguingly complex history, rugged terrains, adaptive architecture and unique artistic expressions.
Our most favorite experiences were:
- Hiking at the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. After zig-zagging through narrow canyons and hiking past fairy-like castle turrets created by erosion, we completed the 630-foot climb to stand in front of a desolate vista that seemed to span from Arizona and Texas. Sadly, we could see the billowing smoke from the Pacheco Canyon wildfire burning in the distance.
- Driving through the Carson National Forest (fresh snow in late June!) to get to Chama and catching the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. It is America’s highest and longest coal-fired, steam-operated, narrow gauge railroad.
- Embracing centuries worth of details and artifacts at the New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe.
- Glimpsing into the hardships of frontier life at the Hacienda de los Martinez. Built in 1804, it is one of the few northern New Mexico style, late Spanish Colonial period “Great Houses” remaining in the American Southwest. Envision a one-story, adobe, figure 8-shaped fort with two inner courtyards surrounded by rooms with no exterior windows.
- Walking across the cantilever truss Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, 650 feet above the river.
The trip would not have been complete without some great eats, like blue corn and pinon nut pancakes at Michael’s Bakery, spicy chili beer at Eske’s Brew Pub and Restaurant, chicken enchiladas with rich mole sauce at Cafe Pasqual’s or flash-fried chimichangas at Coyote Cafe.