Wednesday, November 2, 2011


(does not include Albuquerque or Santa Fe)

Sights & Sites
Southwest New Mexico Birding Trail –; creeks, highland forests, geological formations, rivers & wilderness areas; combination Chihuahuan Desert vegetation, mid-level habitats, and coniferous woodland; lower-elevation arid sites such as City of Rocks State Park (worth visiting just for its amazing rock formations), Bureau of Land Management’s Granite Gap, Redrock Road & Gila River Bird Habitat; common black-hawk, zone-tailed hawk, scaled and Gambel’s quails, greater roadrunner, black-chinned hummingbird, gila woodpecker, brown-crested and vermilion flycatchers, Bell’s vireo, Bendire’s, crissal, and curve-billed thrashers, phainopepla, Lucy’s warbler, Abert’s towhee, and Scott’s oriole; in Gila National Forest, such as at Cherry Creek and McMillan campgrounds, look for species including band-tailed pigeon, flammulated owl, white-throated swift, broad-tailed hummingbird, acorn woodpecker, Steller’s jay, mountain chickadee, Grace’s and red-faced warblers, painted redstart, and hepatic tanager; near Glenwood, Catwalk Recreation Area, suspended path leads into spectacular Whitewater Gorge.

Pie Town (Highway 60 (160 miles southwest of Albuquerque))
Daily Pie Cafe – Highway 60, mile-post 56; 575-772-2700;; read Smithsonian article re “Pie Town”:

sights & Sites
Bottomless Lakes State Park – 545 Bottomless Lakes Road; 575-624-6058;; 9 small, deep lakes located along eastern escarpment Pecos River valley; deep, almost circular lakes known as cenotes.

Las Cruces
Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces – 705 South Telshor Boulevard; 575-522-4300 or 866-383-0443;
Sights & Sites
Branigan Cultural Center – 501 North Main Street (on Downtown Mall); 575-541-2155;; mural “First Book about New Mexico 1610,” by Tom Lea, displayed on north wall, painted in 1935; privately commissioned, but included in New Mexico WPA-Federal Arts Program due to period in which painted; depicts Franciscan Friar bringing first book to New Mexico in early 17th Century and showing native people.
NMSU Branson Library – 1305 Frenger Street; 575-646-1508;; 2 Tom Lea murals, “Conquistadors” and “Old Mesilla.”
San Andres National Wildlife Refuge – 5686 Santa Gertrudis Drive; 575-382-5047;; elevations range from 4.2-8.25'; habitats vary from creosote and Chihuahuan desert grasslands (in bajadas) to pinyon-juniper woodlands at higher elevations; some seasonal streams, seeps & springs; completely surrounded by White Sands Missile Range & generally closed to public for security reasons (visitation limited to pre-arranged, special interest group tours & scientific or educational projects); oryx introduced in 1969.
White Sands Missile Range Museum – Las Cruces; 505-678-1134;

Whites City Motel & RV Park – 17 Carlsbad Caverns Highway; 575-785-2292.
Cortez Mexican Restaurant – 506 South Canal Street; 575-885-4747; New-Mex-Mex food.
No Whiner Diner – 1801 South Canal Street; 575-234-2815; greasy, great, inexpensive comfort food.
Sights & Sites
Carlsbad Caverns National Park – 3225 National Parks Highway; 575-785-2232;

Silver City
Sights & Sites
Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument – 44 New Mexico Highway 15; 575-536-9461;; in Gila Wilderness (Nation’s 1st “Wilderness Area”), in Mogollon area; 533 acres; established by executive proclamation on November 16, 1907, by President Theodore Roosevelt; Puebloan people dwellings, dating to over 700 years ago; village built within 5 natural caves; spectacular views.

Sights & Sites
Rug Auction – 1 Chaco (at Crownpoint Elementary School Gymnasium); 505-786-7386;; monthly, Navajo rug auction.

El Rancho Hotel – 1000 East Highway 66; 505-863-9311;; built in 1937 by R.E. Griffith (D.W. Griffith’ brother) as base for film crews and stars; every room named after movie star who stayed here (Claude Akins, Dana Andrews, Gene Autry, Lucille Ball, William Bendix, William Bennett, Jack Benny, Wallace Berry, Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Jackie Cooper, Joseph Cotton, Broderick Crawford, Joan Crawford, Doris Day, Troy Donahue, Kirk Douglas, Jose Ferrer, W.C. Fields, Errol Flynn, Jane Fonda, John Forsyth, Paulette Goddard, Betty Grable, Peter Graves, Sidney Greenstreet, Jean Harlow, Susan Hayward, Rita Hayworth, Katherine Hepburn, John Hodiak, William Holden, Ruth Hussey, Betty Hutton, Alan Ladd, Burt Lancaster, Ida Lupino, Fred MacMurray, Dorothy Malone, Lee Marvin, Marx Brothers, Virginia Mayo, Joel McCrea, Robert Mitchum, Tom Mix, Maria Montez, Gregory Peck, Susan Pleshette, Tyrone Power, Lee Remick, Ronald Reagan, Rosalind Russell, Zachary Scott, Jimmy Stewart, Robert Taylor, Spencer Tracy, John Wayne, Mae West, & Jane Wyman; not great but adequate.

Sights & Sites
White Sands National Monument – 19955 Highway 70; 575-479-6124;; white gypsum dunes; drive Dunes Drive loop; because gypsum doesn't hold heat, sand is never hot.

Blue Swallow Motel – 815 East Route 66 Boulevard; 575-461-9849;

Abiquiu (includes Peñasco)
Abiquiu Inn – 21120 US 84; 505-685-4378 ; or 888-735-2902;
Purple Adobe Lavender Farm (Tea House) – Highway 84, Private Road 1622, Gate 31; 505-685-0082;; lavender farm in O’Keeffe country; breakfast, lunch & dessert.
Laughing Pig Farm – 17 Camino De La Acequiea Madre (Peñasco); 472-422-6000;; organic jams & jellies made in Jicarita Mountain Valley Oasis; all hand-made & often wildcrafted but always best ingredients & unique flavors.
Purple Adobe Lavender Farm – Highway 84, Private Road 1622, Gate 31; 505-685-0082;; lavender farm in O’Keeffe country; breakfast, lunch & dessert in Tea House, guided tours, shopping.
Sights & Sites
Abiquiu Studio Tour –; annual festival (October).
Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation – 217 Johnson Street; 505-685-4539; or
Purple Adobe Lavender Farm – Highway 84, Private Road 1622, Gate 31; 505-685-0082;; lavender farm in O’Keeffe country; labyrinth, in-season lavender picking, guided tours.

Hacienda de Chimayo Inn – 297 Juan Medina Road; 505-351-2222 or 888-270-2320;; ask for rooms Uno, Tres, Seis, or Siete.
Rancho de Chimayo – 297 Juan Medina Road; 505-351-4444 or 505-984-2100;
Sights & Sites
Santuario de Chimayo – 1816 shrine; small village at 6500'; weavings by Ortega and Trujillo families.

El Rito
El Farolito – 1212 Main Street; 575-581-9509;; tiny restaurant with huge flavors; Who says it’s among the best? How about Gourmet magazine (2003), as well as Sunset, Travel & Leisure, New York Times, New Mexico & (in 2004) by Rand McNally, which recognized it with “Best of Road” award, making it only restaurant in state to be accorded with such honor during year; occupies simple adobe building that from outside looks abandoned (in fact, if you’re even slightly exceeding at-crawl speed limit of 25 miles per hour, you’ll miss weathered plywood sign); inside, 7 picnic tables constitute dining area; green chile once named “best chile” by International Chile Society; in business for more than 4 decades.

Sights & Sites
Wildlife Center – 19 Wheat Street; 505-753-9505;; rescued animals including raptors.

Mine Shaft Tavern – 2846 New Mexico Highway 14; 505-473-0743;; bar food, fiesty drinks, music, pool table, eclectic inclusive crowd.

Step Back Inn – 123 West Aztec Boulevard; 505-334-1200;; Victorian-style inn; 4-block walk from Aztec Museum & Pioneer Village; 1.1 miles from Aztec Ruins National Monument; owned by local pioneer family, features rooms named for area families; rooms decorated with historic photos & replica antiques, including armoires; free WiFi & air-conditioning; inn offers light breakfast with homemade cinnamon rolls, juice & coffee; veranda & shaded front porch.
Sights & Sites
Aztec Ruins National Monument – 725 Ruins Road; 505-334-6174;; preserves Ancestral Puebloan structures near Animas River (Salmon Ruins & Heritage Park, with more Puebloan structures, lies short distance south, near San Juan River; buildings date to 11-13th Centuries; misnomer attributes them to Aztec civilization.

Sights & Sites
Salmon Ruins Museum & Chaco Canyon Tours – 6131 US Highway 64; 505-632-2013;; ancient Chacoan & Pueblo site; archaeological displays, native dwelling replicas, research library & ruins; educational tour programs provide day-long, private, guided tours offered for Chaco Canyon, Dinetah Pueblitos & Rock Art, Bisti Wilderness; call for information​.

Sights & Sites
Shiprock Pinnacle – on Navajo land but can have limited access by self-guided tour; turn west off Highway 491 onto Red Valley Road / Route 5, south of formation.

Navajo Dam
Enchanged Hideaway Lodge – 1593 New Mexico Highway 173; 505-632-2634;; affordable but average, in lovely setting.
Rainbow Lodge – 51 County Road 4275; 505-632-5717;; probably best area choice.

Jemez Springs
Cañon del Rio – 16445 Highway 4; 575-829-4377;; desert chic; outdoor hot tub has great views and fantastic breakfast is best food for miles around.
Jemez Mountain Inn – 17555 Highway 4; 575-829-3926 or 888-819-1075;; 2 of 26 rooms have kitchenettes; all have television.
Los Ojos Saloon – 17696 Highway 4; 575-829-3547;; funky, old-fashioned roadhouse; try chicken enchiladas with red chili sauce.
Sights & Sites
Jemez Springs Bath House – 62 Jemez Springs Plaza; 575-829-3303;
Valles Caldera National Preserve – main gate at Highway 4, Mile Marker 39.2; 505-661-3333;; try Coyote Call and/or Valle Grande hiking trails, which are free.

San Antonio
Sights & Sites
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge – 1001 New Mexico Highway 1; 575-838-2120; or; refuge heart comprises 3.8K acres on Rio Grande River floodplain & 9.1K acres irrigated farms & wetlands; in addition, 44.3K acres arid grasslands & Chupadera and San Pascual Mountain foothills; 30K acres of this is designated as wilderness; 12 mile loop road divided by cutoffs into “Farm“ & “Marsh” Loops allows automobile drivers excellent views of wetland wildlife, including raptors; several short (1.5-10 miles) walking trails; desert plant garden maintained adjacent to Visitor Center; 377 bird species observed since 1940; attracts huge flocks wintering cranes & geese; many other species — notably waterfowl, shorebirds & birds of prey — also winter here; striking vagrants such as Groove-billed Ani have been found there; also hosts 3 federally designated Wilderness areas (Chupadera, Little San Pascual & Indian Well); bird diversity also high in spring, particularly last week of April & 1st week of May, and in fall; in summer area is hot but many water birds can be found, including such New Mexico rarities as Least Bittern & occasionally Little Blue Heron; late November to late February is best time for large bird numbers; typically over 10K Sandhill Cranes and over 20K Ross’s & Snow Geese; annual Festival of Cranes held weekend before Thanksgiving as large numbers of cranes begin arriving in refuge; winter visitors generally plan to be in refuge at sunrise or sunset, when crane & geese flocks (that roost in refuge) commute to or from local fields where they feed; can stay nearby in Socorro or San Antonio.

Sights & Sites
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge – Route 1 (formerly US Highway 85) or 217 Fisher Avenue (visitors’ center); 575-835-8927;; founded in 1939; name means “Apache forest”; core 3.8K acres & additional 9.1K acres in irrigated farms & wetlands, as well as 44.3K acres in Chupadera & San Pascual Mountains foothills and grasslands; 12 mile-long loop allows automobile drivers excellent views; several short walking trails; adjacent to Visitors’ Center, is desert plant garden; 377 bird species since 1940; wetlands attract huge flocks wintering cranes & geese, which are refuge’s most interesting feature; late November-late February is best time for typically over 10K Sandhill Cranes and over 20K Ross’s & Snow Geese; annual crane festival held weekend before Thanksgiving (when large numbers begin arriving); best time for viewing is sunrise or sunset.
San Miguel Church – 403 El Camino Real; 575-835-2891;; built on Nuestra Señora de Socorro mission (1626 but destroyed in 1680 during Pueblo Revolt) ruins; old mission adobe wall portion remains today (behind glass just left of altar); oldest Catholic church in US, founded in 1598, when village of Socorro founded, but not built until 19th Century.

Ojo Caliente
Sights & Sites
Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa – 50 Los Banos Road (Highway 414, lies along US 285 near Rio Grande River between Española & Taos, approximately 50 miles north of Santa Fe); 505-583-2233 or 800-222-9162;; hot springs; worth special trip.

Ranchos de Taos
Sights & Sites
San Francisco de Asis Church – 60 St. Francis Plaza; 575-758-2754; church depicted by Georgia O’Keeffe in several works.

Red River
Ponderosa Lodge – 200 West Main Street; 575-754-2988;; rustic hotel rooms with free Wi-Fi (many also have fireplaces & kitchens); hot tub & sauna.

El Monte Sagrado – 317 Kit Carson Road; 575-758-3502 or 888-213-4419;; dated, slightly rundown & seedy, but gorgeous; great location.
Lambert’s of Taos – 123 Bent Street; 575-758-1009;; beautiful setting with outdoor patio shaded by large apple tree and upstairs bar (Treehouse); Contemporary American and French; high quality ingredients; amazing desserts.
Michael’s Kitchen – 304-C North Pueblo Road; 575-758-4178;; old stand-by (since 1974); diner-type food; good bakery.
Sights & Sites
Carson National Forest – 208 Cruz Alta Road; 575-758-6200 or 575-758-6357 from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm, after August, information is 575-741-1516;; some of finest mountain scenery in Southwest; 1.5M acres; some most picturesque & beautiful natural scenery is in Wilderness Areas.

Taos Ski Valley
Bavarian Lodge – 100 Kachina Road; 575-776-8020;
Bavarian Lodge – 100 Kachina Road; 575-776-8020;
Sights & Sites
Italianos Trail – New Mexico Highway 150, on way to Taos Ski Valley (trail begins 3 miles east of Upper Cuchilla Campground, parking at trailhead located at end of short access road); or; mixed conifers characterize 3.5 mile trail located on south-facing slope of Rio Hondo Canyon; like most area trails, Italianos Trail follows canyon bottom most of time, gaining 2.8K feet in elevation; for this reason avalanche hazard during winter & early spring; water available along entire canyon length but should be properly treated before consumption; provides access to Lobo Peak, Flag Mountain & Gold Hill.

Sights & Sites
Capulin Volcano National Monument – 46 Volcano Road; 575-278-2201;; US National Monument located in northeastern New Mexico interpreting & protecting extinct cinder cone volcano that is part of Raton-Clayton Volcanic Field.

Los Lunas
Weck’s – 3463 Main Street Northwest; 505-865-5770;; breakfast & lunch.
Sights & Sites
Decalogue Stone – Hidden Mountain (from Los Lunas, 16.8 miles drive; take New Mexico State Highway 6 West (Main Street Northeast in town) out of town for about 13.2 miles (road makes sharp left), stay on New Mexico 6 West another 3.2 miles (you will see some railroad tracks in distance & road turns back to right as you approach tracks), make left onto 1st road that goes to landfill (railroad storage area just before turn), travel down that road until see gate on left & park, then 2 mile hike to stone); 505-352-3596 (Los Lunas Chamber of Commerce);; large boulder that bears regular inscription carved into flat panel; apparently ten commandments written in Paleo-Hebraic script.

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