The main focus of our trip was New Mexico, but to get there from San Diego you need to cross Arizona. We spent our first night in Phoenix, and then drove northeast, up to 7,500' along the Mogollon Rim and then dropped down to a stop at Petrified Forest National Park and Painted Desert before pulling into Albuquerque for the night.
The Painted Desert Inn, which dates back to the 1920's, is now a historic landmark museum and visitor center.
On our way from Albuquerque to Santa Fe we stopped in a little town called Cerrillos. In its day Cerrillos was quite a wealthy mining town, but almost everyone left when the mines stopped producing. Several western movies have been filmed there in more recent years.
We toured the local "mining museum", and stopped into the little church, where we got a good restaurant recommendation for Taos from the parish priest.
In Santa Fe we toured a few churches, and the museums up on Museum Hill, but mostly we just wandered around and admired the scenery and architecture.
The late afternoon sunlight coming through the stained glass windows of the St. Francis Cathedral projected some beautiful colors onto the walls and columns.
We took our time driving the High Road to Taos, and spent a few hours in the little village of Chimayo on the way. Heather and I stopped in Chimayo during a drive around New Mexico in 1994, but we almost didn't recognize it this time, as the complex has grown so much. It now gets over 300,000 visitors a year, and is considered one of the most important Catholic pilgrimage centers in the United States.
Luckily we were traveling off season, so it was a quiet and peaceful place to spend a couple of hours.
We lit a couple of candles, and moved on towards Taos. The Carson National Forest has some great views, and we found a forest service road to wander off for a bit.
We walked across the bridge and back just before sunset. It was cold and windy, but the views are great; it's about 650' from the center of the bridge down to the bottom of the Gorge. If you've watched any recent episodes of Expedition Unknown on the Travel Channel, it's the bridge that the host is standing on in the opening credits.
Click here to see more images from Petrified Forest National Park.
Click here to see more images from Chimayo.
Click here to see more images from around Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico.