Out and about in Santa Fe and Las Vegas, NM

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Loretto Chapel

The northernmost point of the Turquoise Trail officially ends at the junction of State Highway 14 and Interstate 25, just south of Santa Fe.  We set up camp at Santa Fe Skies RV Park (Steve’s review here), which offered spacious sites and panoramic views of four mountain ranges.  The park was recommended by our friends Ayn and Chuck, who are now part-time residents of Santa Fe and part-time travelers.  Our little reunion with them was our main reason for stopping, and we had a couple of excellent meals together.

Although we were greenhorns in the blogosphere in 2012, our interactions with other bloggers were already in high gear.  Ayn and Chuck  of Roadlife were the first bloggers we met up with on the road, in Anchorage, Alaska no less.  Three years later here we were in Santa Fe, and we spent plenty of time recalling our adventures in the “North to the Future” state.  It was great catching up with them, and we hope to meet again somewhere down the road.

Santa Fe was a revisit for us, as we were here about 12 years ago to check it out as a possible place to live and work.  This time we just meandered around town and checked out what had changed since our last visit.  It remains an intriguing old city known worldwide for its art galleries and pueblo-style architecture.  You don’t see tall buildings here, and even government buildings have retained the distinctive southwestern style that is based on the adobe (mud and straw) with wood construction look of the past.  Here are a few photos:

I learned a few facts about Santa Fe during this visit; it’s the capital of New Mexico (all this time I thought it was Albuquerque), and at 7,000 feet of elevation it is both the highest and oldest capital city in the US.  Those are just boring stats, but this city has lots to offer – especially if you’re artistically-inclined.  If you want to learn more about Santa Fe, Ingrid of Live Laugh RV has written several posts about their visit here.  She really captured the essence of the area through her excellent stories and vivid captures.

Our short stay in Santa Fe also brought us various weather-related scenarios.  Most mornings it was beautiful with clear skies framing the mountains.  But by early afternoon the winds kicked up and broadsided Betsy with vicious dust clouds.  In fact, it was so bad that we left our right-side slide in during most of our stay.  Our runny noses and sneezing continued as we tried to control the dust in the RV.

On departure day, we awoke to a winter wonderland, as about two inches of the white stuff had blanketed us during the night.  We were excited, as it was the first time we had been snowed on during our travels.  Fortunately, it had all melted by the time we were ready to head on down the road.

Robin building nest

Neither rain nor snow stops the Robin’s nest-building project

Santa Fe Skies RV Park

One clear sunny day, the mountains are visible for miles

Santa Fe Skies RV Park

Afternoon winds and dust obscured the mountains and made us miserable

Santa Fe Skies RV Park

Then it snowed, who cares about the mountains?

Santa Fe Skies RV PArk

Betsy survived her first snow event!

After all of the weather excitement, we continued on to Las Vegas, NM, which is only about 66 miles to the north.  This was just a quick pause to break up a long drive to our first stop in Colorado.

The nearby Las Vegas Wildlife Refuge beckoned to me.  We drove around their 8-mile auto tour route, but we didn’t walk the trails due to the bone-chilling cold and relentless winds. The Visitor’s Center displayed a great collection of bird egg replicas that represented all of the species that find sanctuary at the refuge.  I found them very interesting; they were all unique in their colors, textures and sizes.

Bird Egg Replicas

The wind finally died down the next day, so we drove 29 miles south to catch up on our hiking at Villanueva State Park.  It’s nestled between high sandstone bluffs that form a canyon along the Pecos River.

Viewpoint Trail, Villanueva State Park

Up and up we went

We followed all three of the trails and got a great workout as we ascended the Viewpoint and El Cerro trails.  They did not disappoint, as we had a panoramic view of the wide open New Mexico skies with a few mountains dotting the landscape.  We saw the town of Villanueva in the distance, with the Pecos River running alongside the bluffs of the park below.

Villanueva State Park

We heard some kind of a critter shuffling around in the tin cover of this shelter, but we never did figure out what it was

Pecos River

The Pecos River cuts deep along the red bluffs

Villanueva State Park

Looking down at the camping area of Villanueva State Park

But alas, it was time to go.  The only thing we didn’t like in the Land of Enchantment was the wind and dust, which apparently lasts an average of three months every year.  Other than that we enjoyed the scenery and loved our journey through this beautiful part of New Mexico.  In the fall we will head back through the far western part of the state on our winter migration.  We’re excited to find out what new adventures await us in that part of this great state.

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Next up:  Highway of Legends, Colorado



11 thoughts on “Out and about in Santa Fe and Las Vegas, NM

  1. Sante Fe is one of my favorite cities, a place I visited often with a girlfriend. One day our rolling home may have to see it also. Great photos MonaLiza. Glad Betsy got to experience snow!

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  2. Your visit was short and sweet … hopefully we’ll miss both the winds and the snow when we’re there this summer. If we don’t stay at the AF base in ABQ, the campground you stayed in just might be our base for a few days before we head down to Ruidoso.

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  3. Love the snow pictures! Glad it melted before you got on the road. We stayed at Sante Fe Skies 9 years ago on our very first RV trip. It still looks like a great place to stay. Safe travels!

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  4. Wow, you did have a mixture of weather conditions! Dust clouds, snow and then beautiful skies. I had no idea it actually snowed there. Beautiful pictures as usual! 🙂

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  5. Love, love, love Santa Fe! It’s one of our favorite cities, and we never tire of visiting there. But we always go in the fall, never in the spring. Your experience with the winds and dust sounds fierce! Villanueva State Park looks beautiful — did you stay there, or were you just passing through?

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  6. Our MH has never been to NM but we have done a motorcycle trip that included Albuquerque, Sante Fe, Taos, and Raton. We really enjoyed the state but I didn’t know about the wind!!

    I love your three weather photos from the same part of the park:) That is some header for May. Glad the snow didn’t stay around long.

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  7. I knew Santa Fe was the capitol but I did not know it was the highest and oldest in the country. Very interesting. You sure have had the weather on your New Mexico days. I think I might have to avoid those cold and windy months. Would those be February March and April? Although I really want to see the National Native American Pow Wow in Albuquerque “some day”. Safe Travels onward. Hope it warms up for your hiking.

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  8. We’ve discovered NM is filled with hidden gems, much to our surprise. We hope to explore more of that state as well. Thanks for the mention. Our stay in Santa Fe was also met with cold temps which led to no crowds. Enjoy your trip back home 🙂

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  9. What a beautiful picture of the Pecos River…great trail!
    And you know I love the Robin in the snow MonaLisa!
    What a great idea the visitor center had to display the bird eggs.

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  10. The best part about the wind in NM I think, is it keeps away any bugs! Maybe it is also the source of the fabulous NM clouds!

    Isn’t it funny how in such a very dry state you got snowed on and we got snowy rain?!

    Regarding the West side of NM, we really enjoyed a month in Silver City in March/April of 2013. Rose Valley RV Ranch is excellent.

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