The artwork and culture of the Native American presence is still very alive in the artwork and culture that will surround you in each of the cities. The capital city, Santa Fe, founded in 1610, has the oldest continually used seat of government in North America. Its central plaza is constructed of traditional adobe, making the city look as if it has been transported from the old Spanish colonies. The Cliff Dwellers’ homes at Mesa Verde National Park go back even farther too around 1200 AD. After they were discovered by farmers looking for additional water sources in the region, President Theodore Roosevelt soon recognized the value of the historic treasure and created the first National Park devoted to heritage.
Los Alamos, with its Bradbury Science Museum, has been at the cutting edge of America since the 1940s. In addition, each of the cities has wonderful natural areas and outdoor environments waiting for exploration.
The lush Botanic Garden, which encompasses 36 acres and a 10,000 square foot glass conservatory is an oasis in the New Mexico desert. The Aquarium takes visitors on a journey down the Rio Grande from Albuquerque to its mouth at the Gulf of Mexico. The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science is also home to the Lode Star Astronomy Centre.
The views are spectacular from the Sandia Peak Aerial Tram and the Plaza to Plaza Walking Tour that takes you from Albuquerque’s original Plaza in Old Town to the new Plaza in the contemporary section of downtown. You also have the option to take a drive on the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway which takes you out into the byways and back roads around Albuquerque.
Distance: 63 miles
Today, Santa Fe is a combination of all those cultures, having taken the best from each. It’s come a long way from the days when Father Lamy was sent by the Pope to tame the wildest of the Wild, Wild West. Thriving under the Spanish, Native American, Mexican, Territorial government, American Confederates (one wonders how the struggle for independence by the South got so farafield) and ultimately Union rule, it took over three hundred years for the city to emerge as the oldest state capital in the United States.
The Plaza, in the centre of town and once filled with traders and wagon trains, is now home to art galleries, sophisticated restaurants and unique shops. Original Spanish architecture from the 1600’s surrounds the central square, including the oldest continuously occupied public building in the nation.
Just a hour north of Santa Fe you can get your art fix in the tiny village of Abiquiu at the Georgia O'Keefe Home and Museum. Georgia O'Keeffe was an American artist who painted nature in a way that showed how it made her feel. She became best known for her paintings of flowers and the New Mexico desert landscapes.
March through to November you can visit her home and studio which become a National Historic Landmark in 1998 and is one of the most import artistic sites in the southwestern United States.
Distance: 70 miles
The Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad is the last full operational main line section of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad which once connected the outposts of the southwest. The trips take you back into country that is not reachable any other way than by train. From there, it’s a short drive over the Cumbres Pass to Dulce and your accommodations for the evening.
Distance: 202 miles
Distance: 270 miles
More than 1,000 years ago prehistoric Native Americans ventured into Carlsbad Cavern leaving behind mysterious drawings on cave walls near the natural entrance. Much later settlers were drawn to the cavern by the spectacle of hundreds of thousands of bats rising up out of the natural entrance in the evening. After Cowboy Jim White spent hour after hour exploring the cave with a photographer in tow, Americans finally realized the natural wonders of this huge underground wilderness full of unusual cave formations. It took photographs to convince skeptics that Carlsbad Caverns was everything it was said to be and more.
Distance: 76 miles
The actual evidence is locked away somewhere secret. Roswell has created a Museum to feature this unique American event and complemented it with the Crash Down Diner, and its sister Crash Site Café. The streetlights on Main Street have slanty alien eyes painted on their bulbous globes which glow green at night. There’s even the Flying Saucer McDonald’s.
Fortunately, Roswell also has the Roswell Museum and Art Centre, Bottomless Lakes State Park and the Historical Centre for Southeastern New Mexico to round out the region’s story.
Distance: 203 milesSpaceport America - the world's first purpose built commercial spaceport.
Alternatively, head onto to Albuquerque for more time exploring this wonderful multicultural city.
This is your last day before heading back home, however your journey doesn't have to end here. Why not extend your tour and spend a few more days exploring Albuquerque or perhaps you may want to fly over to California for some shopping and relaxation?
Call the travel experts at Bon Voyage to discuss your dream Land of Enchantment journey.