There are plenty of ways to enjoy the natural beauty of New Mexico. However, the most convenient way to explore the Land of Enchantment is from the front seat of your car. Meander through charming mountain villages and wide-open vistas, and immerse yourself in the history and culture of the Southwest. Here are the best day trips from Santa Fe, NM.
Santa Fe National Scenic Byway
(30 Miles Round Trip)
The shortest drive on our list is the Santa Fe National Scenic Byway. This route starts at the Governor’s Palace and takes you through Hyde Memorial State Park up to Ski Santa Fe. There are plenty of places to stop and stretch your legs along the way, from scenic picnic areas to winding hiking trails. The drive is picturesque with stunning mountain views.
Bandelier National Monument
(82 Miles Round Trip)
The drive to Bandelier is beautiful, plus the destination is a real gem. Bandelier National Monument is home to the intricate, ancient cave dwellings of the indigenous Pueblo people. With over 70 miles of hiking trails to explore, you’ll definitely want to plan a full-day excursion. Be sure to bring some comfortable shoes.
Puye Cliffs Scenic Byway
(84 Miles Round Trip)
North of Santa Fe off of I-285 you’ll find the Puye Cliffs Scenic Byway. This route leads you across winding hills and up to a spectacular view of the Puye Cliff dwellings and the stunning Jemez Mountains. You’ll also drive through four of New Mexico’s seven life zones. This Byway makes an excellent day trip.
Turquoise Trail to Albuquerque
(100 Miles Round Trip)
If you’re planning a trip to Albuquerque, then make sure you take the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway. Drive through historic mining towns, like Madrid and Cerillos. Take in the breathtaking views from the peak of Sandia Crest. If you feel like taking it easy, there are plenty of shops, restaurants, and sites in the towns along the way to keep you entertained.
Jemez Mountain Trail and Los Alamos
(160 Miles Round Trip)
The Jemez Mountain Trail and Los Alamos is one of Innkeeper Dan’s favorite routes to take on his Harley. This trek makes for an incredible outing, taking you past Native Pueblos, past Bandelier National Monument, an ancient volcano crater, a soothing Victorian era bathhouse, and the famous Coronado state monument. Plan ample time for this trip, as you’ll definitely want to visit this incredible places along your route.
The High Road to Taos and the Low Road to Santa Fe
(165 Miles Round Trip)
One of the most famous road trips from Santa Fe is the High Road to Taos. You’ll pass charming small villages packed with culture and artwork. You’ll drive through Carson National Forest, and past some incredible historic architecture. About 10 miles north of Taos, you can make your way to the famous Rio Grande Gorge Bridge for a spectacular view of Wheeler Peak. When you’re ready to return, take the Low Road. This way, you’ll follow the Rio Grande back to Santa Fe, and can check out wineries and tasting rooms along the way.
Abiquiu, Ghost Ranch, and Chamas
(250 Miles Round Trip)
When most people envision New Mexico’s painted desert, they picture what you’ll see on this incredible drive! This lengthy drive offers views of the red rocks and Pedernal mesa, provides access to the hiking trails around Ghost Ranch, offers an easy stop at Abiquiu Lake, and takes you to the beautiful village of Chamaa. Taking Tierra Amarilla to Taos on your way back will lead you through the San Juan Mountains, and right across the 650 foot high Rio Grande Gorge Bridge.
Historic Santa Fe Bed & Breakfast
After embarking on one more of these best day trips from Santa Fe, NM, stretch your legs and rest your head at Inn of the Turquoise Bear. Conveniently close to the best shops, restaurants, historical sites, and attractions of Santa Fe, our traditional adobe-style property has been lovingly restored to offer you a peaceful place to lay your head. Enjoy a full gourmet breakfast each morning, indulge with our luxurious in-room amenities, and make use of our full concierge service to help you plan your next New Mexico vacation.
Published September 2, 2021