After leaving Grand Sand Dunes National Park we continued our drive to Santa Fe through Alamosa. This way, turning west from the I-25 to Alamosa is longer then going on the I-25 all the way from Denver to Santa Fe but the road is MUCH more scenic and is definitely worth it if you're not in a rush.
When we finally arrived to Santa Fe (we stayed at Residence Inn - Marriott) it was too late to do anything and we were too tired to bother. At that point we didn't have any plans for the next day (it was a spontaneous trip, did I mention?) but luckily there was a book about New Mexico with some great ideas. There is truly a lot to see in New Mexico but because it's quite a large state I reckon it would take a week of driving around to have a good look around, as long as you plan your road trip well.
I wrote down a few ideas for places to see and mapped then on Google Maps. If you plan on visiting New Mexico, have a look at this map.
View Explore New Mexico in a larger map
We had pretty much one day to explore the area so we couldn't drive far, this is why we chose to go to Bandelier National Monument. It is about one hour drive from Santa Fe and has beautiful scenery and archaeology, both things I like. Currently you have to take a bus to Bandelier from a designated car park in Los Alamos. The bus and the parking are free and the bus leaves every 20 minutes so it's quite convenient. I won't expand much about Bandelier as you can get all the information from their website but shortly speaking, there are a few hikes, the main one is called the Main Loop as it takes you around the pueblo. It is quite easy as it is pretty much designed for the general public. Near the end of the loop you can go on another hiked called the Frijolito Trail. This trail is pretty steep and much harder than the Main Loop. You can do the Frijolito Trail as a loop but we just returned the same way we came. I didn't find the ruins at the top very interesting and wouldn't recommend going up just for the sake of the ruins. The steepness provided a good challenge though and the view to the other side of the hill was beautiful.
Here are some photos. Enjoy!
|Overlooking the Kiva|
|View from the top of the Frijolito Trail|
|View from the other side of the hill, Frijolito Trail.|
After the visit to Bandelier National Monument we had a quick look around Los Alamos, a town near Bandalier. The bus driver that took us to Bandelier suggested going to a look-out and this is what we did. Unfortunately I actually don't remember the name of this lake.
Hope you enjoyed the virtual trip to Bandelier! This pretty much sums our trip to New Mexico. On the way back we drove straight up on the I-25 and the views are all the same... If you have the time, find somewhere to visit on the way and to have a proper break from driving. Unfortunately we were in a rush and didn't have the chance.
The small images look really blurry, which drives me crazy! Please enlarge!