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Monday, December 21, 2015

New Mexico Road Trip - December 2015

We recently completed a week-long road to Arizona and New Mexico.  Along the way we stayed overnight in Phoenix, Albuquerque, Santa Fe (3 nights), Las Cruces and Tucson.  All in over the course of 8 days we logged just over 2,140 miles in the Xterra, and went from below sea level to up over 10,300 feet.  We spent more time on the Interstate highways than we normally do on our trips, but we did manage to get onto some lesser traveled roads for at least part of the trip.

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.

There wasn't really all that much to do in Taos, so after lunch at Doc Martin's (the place recommended by the priest in Cerrillos, and very good by the way) we drove out to see the bridge across the Rio Grande River Gorge.  The steel arch bridge was completed in 1965.

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.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like you guys had a great road trip. Thanks for sharing.


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San Diego, California, United States
About me . . . When I'm not working I like to be out exploring and photographing. I do this blog just for fun, and to be able to share these images with friends. I hope you enjoy viewing these images as much as I enjoyed creating them.

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All of the content and images on this site (c) Frank B. Baiamonte. If you would like to use any of these images please contact me via email at to discuss terms of usage. Note that images from the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park are not available for commercial usage. You can also see more on my Instagram page @frankbaiamonte.

Header image: Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, Cibola, Arizona. End image: Downtown San Diego, California skyline from Coronado Island. Profile picture: Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, by Heather Baiamonte.