Courtesy of Jeremy Alderman Zogmedia.com
As the largest city and central hub of New Mexico, Albuquerque holds a menagerie of arts and culture, outdoor adventures, and culinary options. But, if you’re a local looking to get out of town, there’s also easy access to some of the most breathtaking and exhilarating experiences the Southwest has to offer.
Across the city, you can get great deals on guided tours, entertainment, shows, and also enjoy the family classics. The Albuquerque Aquarium and Botanical Gardens, the Albuquerque Zoo, Explora Science Center and Natural History Museums are enjoyable, wholesome outings to learn and grow together. Historic Old Town Albuquerque is great for shopping and taking pictures, while Nob Hill is all about delicious culinary favorites, such as Flying Star and Last Call. Downtown Albuquerque is the place for nightlife, with quirky bars like Anodyne lighting up the scene. If you’re looking for a chill brewery scene, pick up a pizza from Slice Parlor and head over to Marble Brewing Company, or shoot over to La Cumbre for a Slice of Hefen or an Elevated IPA. If the active life is more your style, check out Cool Springs Trampoline Park, which offers indoor jumping and dodgeball for kids. Or, you can hike one of the many trails in the Sandias, and even take North America’s longest Tram and experience the majesty of the mountains from above.
If you want to head south, it’s easy to stop by Las Cruces for some of the best New Mexican food around and catch a sunset on Organ Mountain Desert Peaks. Right across the Organ’s is White Sands National Monument. This unique expanse of enormous, luminescent dunes is an excellent place to camp, spend an afternoon, or even for observing a full moon. Just remember to bring lots of sunscreen! Heading east across the Tularosa Basin, you can visit Ruidoso for some beautiful views, breathtaking hikes, and quaint little downtown shops. For a spooky good time, head over to Cloudcroft, where the exquisite, historic Lodge is said to be haunted by a friendly ghost named Rebecca. Texas Pit Barbeque is another Cloudcroft must, especially after a long day of hiking.
Camping and Cliff Dwellings
Many outsiders don’t realize that New Mexico is full of magnificent mountain ranges and National Forests. If you love visiting National Parks, consider investing in an America the Beautiful Pass, offered through the National Parks Service. If you’re an avid park visitor, consider purchasing one at any ranger station, as it covers most fees associated with park permits.
Camping in the Southwest offers an additional adventure—visiting cliff dwellings. In these National Parks, you can find guided tours, trails, picnic areas, backpacking and camping. About an hour and a half out of Albuquerque you will find Bandelier National Monument, with easily accessible day hikes through the ancient homes of the Ancestral Pueblo people. Just a bit further north is Chaco Canyon, another vestige of the ancestral Pueblo people. Here, there are also night sky programs in addition to the traditional guided tours. However, if you’re looking for a more secluded experience away from tourists, head south toward the Gila National Forest. In the nation’s first wilderness area, you can explore the Gila Cliff Dwellings and the Mogollon Culture. Camping near and around the dwellings is abundant, as well as backpacking and fishing.
The most well-known cliff dwellings are probably at Mesa Verde, located in Southern Colorado. It contains over 5000 archeological sites in over 40 miles of road; there’s plenty to do and explore! If you’d like to explore more of Colorado’s adventurous spirit, take a trip up to one or more of its spectacular mountain towns. Salida, located in the Arkansas River Valley, has a quaint downtown and excellent river rafting—you can choose to bring your own craft, rent, or go out with a guide. Further north, you’ll reach Ouray. Ouray was first a native settlement before it was taken over and became a Victorian mining town. The architecture is stunning, as most of the buildings in town were built between 1880 and 1900. It’s a beautiful place to stay while experiencing the famous hot springs, museums, and endless outdoor activities. Only an hour away is Telluride, another Victorian mining town, but with a bit more of a tourist-y feel. You can ride the gondola through town to a myriad of hiking, biking, and skiing trails. Telluride is also reporting 5 feet of new snow, announcing that conditions will be ripe for a spring break full of winter sports. If you’re looking for more winter sport excitement, look no further than Purgatory ski area near Durango. You can end your Colorado excursion in by relaxing in Pagosa Springs, a town famous for its hot springs and getaway feel.