Santa Fe 101 Guide | Day Tripping

Experience the unknown just beyond the confines of Santa Fe. Many of these locations are close enough to have you back to town in time for dinner. If you have an extended stay or now call Santa Fe home, I encourage you to take advantage of all that New Mexico has to offer. The New Mexico Tourism department is a great place to start planning your next adventure.

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New Mexico Tourism & Travel

A weaving shop in Santa Fe in the 1940s.

There’s a lot to see and do no matter which direction you take. The High Road to Taos is a popular day trip. If you head that way stop for lunch Rancho de Chimayo and visit the Santuario de Chimayo and the local weaving shops. Taos is a smaller version of Santa Fe, so there’s lots to see and do. A visit to the Taos Pueblo is must as is the Rio Grande Gorge.

The mural at the Hacienda de Guru Ram Das Ashram.

If you aren’t taking the High Road to Taos then take a left off US-84 West and head to Bandelier for a hike. Back on US-84 West make a stop at the Hacienda de Guru Ram Das Ashram. Sikhism, the fifth largest religion in the world, was introduced to the Western Hemisphere in Santa Fe in 1967. Today, their burgeoning community resides in Santa Fe County in the community of Sombrillo. Venturing on US-84 there will be sites to see when you get to Española and some terrific northern New Mexican restaurants. In Española you’ll head up 285 N to the hot springs.

Ana Pacheco and her mother, Natalie, in the 1980s at Ojo Caliente hot springs.

Sadly, the Ojo Caliente hot springs of my childhood no longer exists. Like the rest of the world, Ojo Caliente has become gentrified and upscale but the springs themselves are still nice. In Las Vegas, NM you’ll find hot springs in a more rustic setting. (F.Y.I. Las Vegas, New Mexico existed hundreds of years before Las Vegas, Nevada was created for returning World War II soldiers.) My favorite hot springs are located along the Colorado River in Pagosa Springs in southern Colorado.

South of Santa Fe you can take a hike at Tent Rocks or take NM-14, where you’ll pass through old mining towns and beautiful scenery on the backroad to Albuquerque. The largest city in New Mexico, Albuquerque has a population of 553,000. With the surrounding communities the population of metropolitan Albuquerque is approximately 750,000, so they offer many big city attractions like the zoo and aquarium. The International Balloon Fiesta in October brings thousands of people from around the world to Albuquerque.

Ana Pacheco and Geshela Sherab at Carlsbad Caverns in 2017.

At some point a visit to Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands National Monuments in southern New Mexico are otherworldly experiences to add to your bucket list. A visit to White Sands during the full moon is like being on another planet. And I never tire of Carlsbad Caverns, which I’ve visited numerous times since my childhood. In 2017 I took my friend Geshela Sherab to Carlsbad Caverns and as I did an internet search for hotel rooms, I found that most of them were booked or ridiculously expensive. My immediate thought was that the caverns had become very popular but it wasn’t until I arrived in Carlsbad that I discovered that it was the Permian Basin, currently the highest producing oil basin in the world, located in southern New Mexico and Texas, that has thrown that community off kilter. So, if you plan on visiting to Carlsbad Caverns just make it a day trip and head to another town for a hotel, otherwise you’ll end up paying a lot of money for mediocre accommodations.

Another interesting site in that area that you’ll pass through is the community of Roswell, the town that’s famous for UFOs. As your drive by the airport you’ll see hundreds of jumbo jets with names like Qantas, Singapore Air, Lufthansa, Emirates and other international fleets. The airport in Roswell has a section where the airlines store their planes there when they’re not in use. Here you are in the middle of nowhere and violá right in front of you pops up a parking lot for jumbo jets!

Northeast of Santa Fe

Los Alamos Area


The Hanuman Temple in Taos.





Northwest of Santa Fe

Las Vegas

South of Santa Fe


Southern New Mexico