Things to do in New Mexico

7,871 Views | 79 Replies | Last: 2 mo ago by corndog04
Sports-Ag
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I will be in New Mexico next month for a week road tripping at Las Cruces, White Sands, Albuquerque, Santa Fe and maybe some other stops in the state. Any places to stop to visit, eat, entertainment or check out?
AgOutsideAustin
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Play golf at Paako Ridge near Albuquerque
Wicked Good Ag
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You going to hit up Carlsbad caverns ??

Geronimo in Santa Fe is pretty good place

I hear the scenic road between Albuquerque and Santa Fe is something that is worth the extra time and if I recall has a couple of places to eat on that road that are good but I haven't been on that road or at least not recall it as a kid
Potcake
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Pig out on some great food! Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe. Crispy chicken tacos at El Parasol in Santa Fe.
And go camping.
Sports-Ag
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Wicked Good Ag said:

You going to hit up Carlsbad caverns ??

Geronimo in Santa Fe is pretty good place

I hear the scenic road between Albuquerque and Santa Fe is something that is worth the extra time and if I recall has a couple of places to eat on that road that are good but I haven't been on that road or at least not recall it as a kid


Not sure about Carlsbad caverns but something I can look up. I've been going on YouTube and trying to find stuff to see.
StEdsCOOG
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Lincoln if you're into the old west and Billy the Kid.
aggiedata
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Cloudcroft - Mad Jacks BBQ (guy is from Luling, TX)

Ruidoso - Tina 's Cafe, Hall of Flame Burgers

Santa Fe - Cafe Pasquale's, The Shed, Geronimo's

Taos - The Burger Stand

Motot
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Rancho de Chimayo near Santa Fe. Good New Mexican food restaurant.
TrustTheAwesomeness
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Alamogordo Museum of Space History is an interesting hour or two.
Read the book The Pre-Astronauts: Manned Ballooning on the Threshold of Space by Craig Ryan. Most of the stuff in the book is featured in the museum.
MEEN Ag 05
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Motot said:

Rancho de Chimayo near Santa Fe. Good New Mexican food restaurant.


I second this. There is a road between Espanola and Taos that runs next to the river that is an awesome drive. Michael's Kitchen in Taos is also some great food.
Lily09
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Sandia Peak is just outside of Albuquerque. Great to do on a nice day.
mike073
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Tent Rocks is amazing spot near Santa Fe. It has beef closed during COVID and I do not know if it is reopened.
Gig 'em Aggies!

barnacle bob
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I'm a big fan of Tesuque Village Market, for food or just stocking up on provisions.

Hidden gem.

CanyonAg77
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Sports-Ag said:

I will be in New Mexico next month for a week road tripping at Las Cruces, White Sands, Albuquerque, Santa Fe and maybe some other stops in the state. Any places to stop to visit, eat, entertainment or check out?

That's a lot of driving. I usually recommend doing Northern and Southern NM on different trips. Off the top of my head, some things to Google up and see if they float your boat. Some are on the I-25 route, some are over on highway 54 and other places.

Cloudcroft is a nice little mountain town
Alamogordo has a small space museum
If it is open (has been COVID closed) White Sands missile museum is toward Las Cruces
Off I-25 are the ruins of Ft. Craig, near Civil War Battle Site
San Antonio, NM, Owl Cafe, home of the Green Chile Cheeseburger
Bit of a drive, but west of Socorro is the Very Large Array, fascinating science site
Off the Highway 54 side, White oaks ghost town, Malpais lava flow
Go over to Lincoln for Billy the Kid history, and see Fort Stanton
Never been to Snowy River Cave, but it sounds interesting
North of Mountainair are several Spanish Mission ruins (Salinas Missions)
Way east is Clines Corners, tourist trap since 1939
If you go from Clines direct Santa Fe, divert at Lamy to see the train station, which figures in Manhattan Project history
Moriarity has glider rides, full auto machine guns, and the Lewis Auto Museum, which is really more of a wrecking yard, but I liked it
The back road from ABQ to Santa Fe is the Turquoise Trail, goes from Tijeras through Madrid to Santa Fe. Madrid has some interesting history, they filmed the final scenes of Wild Hogs there.
Off the Turquoise Trail, you can drive to the top of Sandia Peak and see spectacular views of ABQ
ABQ, tons of great places to eat, El Pinto, Sadies, La Salita, Church Street Cafe, Cocina Azul, tons more. Biopark is good, Old Town interesting. National Nuclear Museum must see. Can take the tram up the west side of Sandia Peak. If there for breakfast, find a Weck's, and you can skip lunch. And maybe dinner.
Santa Fe has historic square, good food, Clafloutis Bakery is a must. Get Croissants.
Los Alamos: Manhattan Project National Park, County Historic Museum, Manhattan Project sites. Bradbury Science Museum. Go to the Smith's grocery store, drink your morning coffee on the patio. Most beautiful grocery store site in the US
Set aside a day for Valles Caldera. Most spectacular place in NM
Nearby, Jemez Springs, Soda Dam, Gillman Tunnels
Plaza Blanca near Abiquiu
Chama, and the Cumbres and Toltec RR

Let me know if you want more info on any of the above.
corndog04
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If you haven't been to NM in July before, note that it is monsoon season. Plan your outdoor activities for morning if you can, particularly at higher elevations.

A lot of good recs on here previously posted. If you are taking 54 north, also check out three rivers petroglyphs between Tularosa and Carrizozo

If you have kids with you, a few additional recs:
-City of Rocks state park is a bit out of the way (consider it a day trip from Las Cruces) but our kids love it.
-Explora is a nice hands-on kids science museum in ABQ
-Lots of good family friendly activities in Cloudcroft and Ruidoso, either are good options to stop after Las Cruces and White Sands. Temperature is nice up here in the mountains this time of year (high in the 60s today here in Ruidoso). If you think you will be up this way I can give more recommendations.
Bucketrunner
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Loving the rain here in Ruidoso!
YouBet
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CanyonAg77 said:

Sports-Ag said:

I will be in New Mexico next month for a week road tripping at Las Cruces, White Sands, Albuquerque, Santa Fe and maybe some other stops in the state. Any places to stop to visit, eat, entertainment or check out?

That's a lot of driving. I usually recommend doing Northern and Southern NM on different trips. Off the top of my head, some things to Google up and see if they float your boat. Some are on the I-25 route, some are over on highway 54 and other places.

Cloudcroft is a nice little mountain town
Alamogordo has a small space museum
If it is open (has been COVID closed) White Sands missile museum is toward Las Cruces
Off I-25 are the ruins of Ft. Craig, near Civil War Battle Site
San Antonio, NM, Owl Cafe, home of the Green Chile Cheeseburger
Bit of a drive, but west of Socorro is the Very Large Array, fascinating science site
Off the Highway 54 side, White oaks ghost town, Malpais lava flow
Go over to Lincoln for Billy the Kid history, and see Fort Stanton
Never been to Snowy River Cave, but it sounds interesting
North of Mountainair are several Spanish Mission ruins (Salinas Missions)
Way east is Clines Corners, tourist trap since 1939
If you go from Clines direct Santa Fe, divert at Lamy to see the train station, which figures in Manhattan Project history
Moriarity has glider rides, full auto machine guns, and the Lewis Auto Museum, which is really more of a wrecking yard, but I liked it
The back road from ABQ to Santa Fe is the Turquoise Trail, goes from Tijeras through Madrid to Santa Fe. Madrid has some interesting history, they filmed the final scenes of Wild Hogs there.
Off the Turquoise Trail, you can drive to the top of Sandia Peak and see spectacular views of ABQ
ABQ,
tons of great places to eat, El Pinto, Sadies, La Salita, Church Street Cafe, Cocina Azul, tons more. Biopark is good, Old Town interesting. National Nuclear Museum must see. Can take the tram up the west side of Sandia Peak. If there for breakfast, find a Weck's, and you can skip lunch. And maybe dinner.
Santa Fe has historic square, good food, Clafloutis Bakery is a must. Get Croissants.
Los Alamos: Manhattan Project National Park, County Historic Museum, Manhattan Project sites. Bradbury Science Museum. Go to the Smith's grocery store, drink your morning coffee on the patio. Most beautiful grocery store site in the US
Set aside a day for Valles Caldera. Most spectacular place in NM
Nearby, Jemez Springs, Soda Dam, Gillman Tunnels
Plaza Blanca near Abiquiu
Chama, and the Cumbres and Toltec RR

Let me know if you want more info on any of the above.
We are going to Santa Fe/Taos in August. Our third trip but never taken this route. Doesn't look to be too out of the way. How much time does it add?
CanyonAg77
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Quote:

We are going to Santa Fe/Taos in August. Our third trip but never taken this route. Doesn't look to be too out of the way. How much time does it add?
If you're going from ABQ to Santa Fe, it might be fewer miles. But 2-lane vs. Interstate, and a few little towns, so probably a lot slower. Google maps says it adds 50 minutes.

And, of course, add another hour round trip to Sandia Crest, if you do that. Great views, though.

Madrid is interesting. Was a company coal mining town, one of the first towns anywhere to have electric lights, especially for the baseball field. Was a ghost town for a while, some characters moving back in.

Should be lots of info online about the Turquoise Trail.

Edit to add: Where are you driving from? Are you just going to Taos? What kind of things do you like to do? May have some roads/ideas for you.
AgCPA95
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Bucketrunner said:

Loving the rain here in Ruidoso!
That is great to hear!!! We were there over Memorial Day and was the driest I ever remember it being.
YouBet
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CanyonAg77 said:

Quote:

We are going to Santa Fe/Taos in August. Our third trip but never taken this route. Doesn't look to be too out of the way. How much time does it add?
If you're going from ABQ to Santa Fe, it might be fewer miles. But 2-lane vs. Interstate, and a few little towns, so probably a lot slower. Google maps says it adds 50 minutes.

And, of course, add another hour round trip to Sandia Crest, if you do that. Great views, though.

Madrid is interesting. Was a company coal mining town, one of the first towns anywhere to have electric lights, especially for the baseball field. Was a ghost town for a while, some characters moving back in.

Should be lots of info online about the Turquoise Trail.

Edit to add: Where are you driving from? Are you just going to Taos? What kind of things do you like to do? May have some roads/ideas for you.


Flying into ABQ and spending 3 days in Santa Fe and then relocating to Taos for 2 days. No huge rush to get to Santa Fe once we fly in so might take that detour.

Pretty knowledgeable on Santa Fe proper. Much less so for surrounding area and Taos.
CanyonAg77
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Have you been to Los Alamos? Bandelier? Or my absolute favorite, Valles Caldera? Drive up to Los Alamos on both highway 4 and 502, both spectacular. Great museums in Los Alamos, a few Manhattan project survivors. Some interesting trails along the plateau.

Abiquiu is where Georgia O'Keefe hung out. Plaza Blanca there is interesting.

Someone mentioned Rancho de Chimayo restaurant, we agree.

I assume you've driven the high road to Taos.

Highway 54 from Taos to Angel Fire is pretty, you can visit the first Vietnam War Memorial there. You can continue on to Red River and meet all the other Texans. Take Jeep tours up to old mines and mountain lakes.

Ask for any details.

Oh, and I strongly suggest the National Nuclear Museum in ABQ
YouBet
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CanyonAg77 said:

Have you been to Los Alamos? Bandelier? Or my absolute favorite, Valles Caldera? Drive up to Los Alamos on both highway 4 and 502, both spectacular. Great museums in Los Alamos, a few Manhattan project survivors. Some interesting trails along the plateau.

Abiquiu is where Georgia O'Keefe hung out. Plaza Blanca there is interesting.

Someone mentioned Rancho de Chimayo restaurant, we agree.

I assume you've driven the high road to Taos.

Highway 54 from Taos to Angel Fire is pretty, you can visit the first Vietnam War Memorial there. You can continue on to Red River and meet all the other Texans. Take Jeep tours up to old mines and mountain lakes.

Ask for any details.

Oh, and I strongly suggest the National Nuclear Museum in ABQ


Have done none of that aside the high road to Taos although I don't recall it. That was 30 years ago.

All of this in play. We normally do the eat and drink thing while there but our drinking days together are mostly over.

We did do the Georgia O'Keefe museum in Santa Fe on last trip which I recommend. It's very well done and it doesn't take long.
YouBet
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I'll ask more tomorrow.
CanyonAg77
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YouBet said:

I'll ask more tomorrow.
Will look for it.

This 10 year old thread has a few things you might enjoy

https://texags.com/forums/46/topics/2219639/replies/33841690
CanyonAg77
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So I'm more about scenic drives than dining. So let's talk about Los Alamos. And if you want to dine, I recommend Gabriel's off 285 near Pojoaque, which is on the way. Have them make guacamole at the table

Disclaimer: Check where the fires are before heading off

Los Alamos is pretty cool. Modern city now, very little WWII stuff left. And the lab has moved one plateau to the south, and the town sits where the WWII Manhattan Project labs were.

They used to have great Farmer's Markets on Thursday mornings. Hope they still do.

Take 502 off of 285. Lots of ash fall deposits on the way. When 4 splits off from 502, you can take either on into town. 502 has a great view back into the Rio Grande Valley. 4 has some interesting areas and more volcanic ash formations.

In town, go to the County Historic Museum and the Bradbury Science Museum. Lots of Manhattan Project history, and the County Museum can tell you what WWII sites are still visible in town. The Manhattan Project National Park was just getting off the ground when I was last there, then COVID hit. Maybe they have some tours onto the lab site now, they were hoping for that.

I'd visit Bandelier (cliff dwellings) while there, if you never have.

Most of all, at least drive by Valles Caldera. It's a National Preserve, not a National Park, so it's run a little different. You can drive a little ways into the area, and see some great stuff. They may have van tours. And they allow only 35 cars a day into the back areas. You need to study their site if you want to visit.

https://www.nps.gov/vall/index.htm

Even if you do nothing but drive by on highway 4, it's one of the most stunning areas in NM, IMO.



Past Valles, Los Conchas trailhead is a pretty area for a short hike. On toward Jemez Springs are Battleship Rock and Soda Dam scenic areas. In Jemez Springs are the remains of a 1621 Spanish Church.

Los Conchas:



If the weather is good, and you don't mind dirt roads, go south of Jemez, then NW on 485/376 to the Gilman tunnels. Very scenic, you'll be driving down what used to be a narrow gauge logging railroad.



One thing about Los Alamos:

If you leave Los Alamos to Valles Caldera, via 501, you will drive through the National Lab (operated in part, by Texas A&M) You will pass through a security checkpoint. Don't panic it is NO BIG DEAL. They will ask for the driver's license, mainly to assure you are a US citizen. Then you just drive on down the highway like normal. You are technically on the grounds of the Lab, but all the secure areas are behind yet more gates with more security, so you're not going to accidentally stumble into someplace and get shot.

Weapons are not allowed on the grounds, but this is a good time to play Bill Clinton and Don't Ask, Don't Tell. I've never seen anyone searched, and I suspect you'd have to do something insanely stupid to get their attention. They all seem bored to tears, every time I go through. Just don't go at Rush Hour.

If the thought of dealing with security makes you nervous, simply go back toward Santa Fe on East Jemez Road, turn right (South) on highway 4, and go toward White Rock and Bandelier Monument. Continue west from there to Valles Caldera, and you avoid the security checkpoints entirely.
Sports-Ag
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Thanks everyone for the responses. I'll be road tripping with my cousin. First day will be busy landing in El Paso and going to Las Cruces but the next 5 days will be open.
CanyonAg77
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Plaza Blanca, near Abiquiu



Los Conchas trail



Valles Caldera





Gilman Tunnels

YouBet
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Going to check this out a little later. We are dealing with death in the family.

I will say that first pic looks like Longmire's back yard. Is it? I'm pretty sure his house was in NM IRL. If you know what I'm talking about.
CanyonAg77
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YouBet said:

Going to check this out a little later. We are dealing with death in the family.

I will say that first pic looks like Longmire's back yard. Is it? I'm pretty sure his house was in NM IRL. If you know what I'm talking about.
Sorry for your loss

I never watched Longmire, but Wikipedia tells me they filmed a lot in that area, and the "Walt's house" was filmed in Valles.

Several other movies have been filmed there, it's an old Spanish Land Grant of 10,000 acres, and has a lot of unspoiled areas.
YouBet
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Put together a loose agenda for our trip. I haven't really timed much of this yet. Just kind of eyeballed the map. Not too sure about what to do in Taos.

Day 1 (Arrive):
  • Take Turquoise Trail from ABQ to SFE
  • Optional: Hit Sandia Peak

Day 2 (SFE):
  • Walk around
  • Dinner at Sassella

Day 3 (SFE):
  • Excursion: Valles Caldera / Los Alamos / Bandelier (doubt we can do all of this)
  • Los Conchas Trailhead? (if time)
  • Dinner back in SFE TBD

Day 4 (SFE)
  • Art galleries
  • Any local museums
  • Dinner at Sazon

Day 5 (Depart to Taos)
  • Take High Road To Taos
  • Have lunch at Rancho De Chimayo
  • Dinner TBD

Day 6 (Taos)
  • Excursion: Drive up to Taos Ski Valley? Hike?
  • Dinner TBD

Day 7 (Drive back to ABQ)
  • Take 68 back to ABQ
CanyonAg77
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Your mileage may vary, but off the top of my head: check with Valles Caldera, and either grab one of their tours, or make sure you get a permit for that day. It has changed over the years, so scour their web site or call to make sure of your plans.

It's a very short drive to Los Conchas from Valles, and even a few hundred feet of hiking will be nice.

Do Valles in the morning, lunch at Los Alamos. Sorry, been a while so no good suggestions. Check out the county and Bradbury museums, both fairly small. Decide then if you can do Bandelier.

If you are a nuclear history nerd, check out the Manhattan Project park and see what they have available before you go.

Consider dinner at Gabriel's near Pojoquque
CanyonAg77
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We hardly ever hang out in Santa Fe. We think Cloflutis is great. Lots of folks have suggested Meow Wolf in the past. There are some tours that take you out to the old Route 66 alignment west of Santa Fe.
CanyonAg77
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If you haven't been to the high bridge over the Rio Grande, at Taos, plan that. If you don't mind dirt roads, the low bridge over the Rio is cool.
CDub06
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Pretty vague initial post and I havent read all the responses, but I knew CanyonAg would be here to make some good suggestions.

I spend a good amount of time traveling around New Mexico. Just got back from a week in T or C. Was in the ABQ area a few weeks back and the parks, trails, and open spaces were closed. I think they've opened most stuff back up with monsoon season coming early and dropping a bunch of rain over the smoldering state. That said, still check ahead to make sure the parks and such are open. Tent Rocks, for example, is still closed.

That said, here are a few of my favorites from the different areas:
Albuquerque
  • Sandia Peak - Great hiking up here and it's either a decent drive, or an easy ($$) ride up the Sandia Tramway. (Or hike up from Elena Gallegos). The tram is worth a ride once.
  • Sports - New Mexico United and the Albuquerque Isotopes are both quite fun to watch.
  • National Museum of Nuclear Science and History - Finally checked this one off my list and it was really good. There is a TON to read, and I didn't dive as deeply as you could, but cool to really get a deeper understanding of the Manhattan Project and see the type of stuff you've heard about on display.
  • Indian Pueblo Cultural Center - Another really good museum. It's really well done and they have performances and events in addition to the displays. They also have artists on site and a pretty good restaurant. This gives you knowledge of the native history that's intwined with the state as well as a better understanding of the people today.
  • Unser Museum - A really niche museum, but it's done really well. I'm not into car racing, but I still enjoyed seeing the displays and cars and reading about the origins and the family.
  • Petroglyph National Monument is fairly compelling. Boca Negra Canyon is the most bang for your time.
  • The BioPark has a nice Botanical Garden. Among the other attractions, I was actually most impressed with the bugarium. Though the aquarium has penguins now too.
  • People love to visit old town. To me, it can be skipped. Sure it's got the history, but anything it does, Santa Fe does better. Take a picture of San Felipe de Neri and visit the Rattlesnake museum if you do decide to go.
  • Cocina Azul is probably my favorite restaurant in the state. Great New Mexican food. Carne Adovada enchiladas christmas style is my go to. Then sop all that chile up with a sopapilla when you're done.
  • Sawmill Market is my other favorite spot in town. I love a good food hall and this is one of the best I've ever visited.
  • Range Cafe, Mary & Titos, Tia Betty Blues, Jealous Fork, Stripes Biscuit Co, Two Fools Tavern, Copper Tavern are other great options
  • Bars? Sister Bar or Copper Lounge
  • Breweries? Gravity Bound, La Cumbre, Bow & Arrow

Santa Fe
  • The plaza is obviously the destination. If you're staying, stay down there. See the Loretto Chapel, see and read about the Palace of the Governors. New Mexico history museum is a great museum. Pop Gallery is my favorite gallery down there.
  • People love seeing the studios down Canyon, but I dont have the patience for more than just a few at a time.
  • If you want to collect the state capitol, the roundhouse is walking distance from the square.
  • Meow Wolf is worth the hype. It is a bit more $$ nowadays and pretty crowded, but this is the original and still the best.
  • Santa Fe has so much good food, but Radish & Rye is one of the finest meals in the state.
  • Coyote Cafe (not cantina) is another really good dining experience.
  • Other good spots: Clafoutis, Jambo Cafe, Rowley Farmhouse, Fire & Hops, Paper Dosa, Sazon
  • La Lecheria has some good (and unique) ice cream
  • Rowley Farmhouse has the best beers.

Los Alamos Area
  • Bandalier National Monument is a great hike.
  • White Rock overlook is a quick payoff.
  • Pueblo Canyon rim trail is nice easy hike.
  • Valles Caldera is a huge area to explore. There are a bunch of short little hikes and overlooks off the main road. The terrain in New Mexico is amazingly diverse.
Taos
  • I'm underwhelmed with Taos tbh. I've spent several weeks and it never grew on me.
  • Bella's is my favorite spot to eat in town. El Meze is a good dinner.
  • Anaconda Bar is a cool spot.
  • I like running the Devisadero Loop
  • Driving up the the gorge is a definite must do.
  • Taos Mesa brewing mothership is a super cool spot, especially if they have an event going on.
  • The Earthship Biotecture is another interesting spot north of town.

I'll do southern new mexico tomorrow.
CanyonAg77
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Good post. I see we have some overlap, and some exclusive to each of us.
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