Cochiti, NM

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument in New Mexico

From Santa Fe, drive to Kasha-Katie Tent Rocks National Monument, at Cochiti, taking Routes 599, I-25, 16 and 22. Here you will see hoodoos, compelling cliff formations, ancient caves, and a slot canyon, among other dramatic scenery. The erosion of the volcanic rock makes for drama around every turn. On busy days, the slot canyon requires one way hiking or waiting. Sometimes the monument is not open, so check before you go. Take plenty of water, and visit the restroom before you start the trail, because there aren’t any after that. The admission is a modest $5 per vehicle. Next, make your way to Albuquerque, on Routes 22 and I-25.

Albuquerque, NM

Old Town Albuquerque NM

Albuquerque, founded 1706 and named for Spanish administrator and viceroy of Mexico Francisco Fernández de la Cueva, Duque de Albuquerque. See it all from high up on Sandia Peak; ascend the Sandia Peak Tramway to the crest of the Sandia Mountains. Talk about drama, the tramway is the world’s third longest single span. Once you are down from the mountain, go to Explora Science Center and Children’s Museum. This place is the center of interactive fun for kids of all ages. The exhibits explore how natural phenomena work; such as, how gravity works, how water flows, how air affects objects.

In Albuquerque, have a meal at Antiquity Restaurant, order their steak, and gazpacho, and enjoy their delicious bread; or dine at the Grove Café and Market, voted the best café in the state. Try their Tomato and Peach Salad or their Roasted Tomato Soup. After Albuquerque, drive Routes 25, 380 and 54 to Alamogordo.

Alamogordo, NM

White Sands National Monument in New Mexico.

Alamogordo’s White Sands National Monument in the northern Chihuahuan Desert is famous for a striking landscape of unusual white gypsum sand dunes. You can follow trails through the dunes. The Interdune Boardwalk and the Dune Life Nature Trail, are highly recommended. Enjoy the wildlife exhibits. Or drive the Dunes Drive, a looped road from the White Sands Visitor Center to the dune field. For a meal, go to Rockin’ BZ Burgers, and order their green chile burger topping and cheese. Finally, head for your next New Mexico Drive destination, Carlsbad Caverns, following Routes 82, 285, 180, 62, and 7.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Carlsbad Caverns National Park in USA

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, in the southern New Mexico Chihuahuan Desert features more than a hundred caves. Enjoy the drama of the Natural Entrance, and the Stalactites on the roof of the Big Room, a huge underground chamber. On the surface, take the Walnut Canyon Desert Loop drive to see with desert views, primeval sea ledges, yawning rocky canyons, blossoming cactus in season, and elusive desert wildlife. On your way there, be sure to stop for a meal in Carlsbad, at the Trinity Hotel Restaurant; start with the Caliente Goat Cheese with blueberry-habanero sauce, and then have one of the steak or pasta dishes, like their signature lasagna with chicken and New Mexico cheese sauce.

New Mexico scenic views