Road Trip 2016 Carlsbad Caverns National Park and White Sands National Monument

(Entering Carlsbad Caverns National Park)

This time we’re visiting two of New Mexico’s iconic landmarks and attractions, Carlsbad Caverns National Park and White Sands National Monument.

(White Sands National Monument)

One thing you quickly discover while driving around New Mexico are the vast distances involved traveling from one point of interest to the next. Case in point was this day of our Southwest trip. We left Santa Fe in the north-central portion of the state early in the morning, heading south toward Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico’s extreme southeast quadrant. In fact the Caverns are located mere miles from the Texas border.

(That’s a big hole in the ground – entering the main cave complex at Carlsbad)

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Road Trip 2016 – Bandelier National Monument

(View of Frijoles Canyon from Alcove House)

When you are in the Santa Fe-Taos-Northern New Mexico region, there are a myriad of interesting things to do and see competing for your time and attention. One you may never have heard of but which I would highly recommend is Bandelier National Monument. Located about 30 miles west of Santa Fe, Bandelier is one of the premiere ancient Native American dwelling sites in the southwestern U.S.A. Ancestral Pueblo Indians inhabited the area from approximately 1150 to 1550. After this date the evidence indicates they moved on closer to the Rio Grande.

(Cliff dwellings along the Main Loop Trail)

The Monument covers 50 square miles of the Pajarito Plateau in the Jemez Mountains. Over 70% of the Monument is wilderness, with more than 70 miles of hiking trails and a one mile-plus elevation change from highest to lowest point. The Bandelier Visitor Center and heart of the Monument is located in Frijoles Canyon, not too far from the town of Los Alamos. Yes, that Los Alamos, birthplace of the atomic bomb. But long, long before scientists converged in New Mexico to split the atom, there were Native Americans living and dying in this very same region for centuries. Bandelier protects those Ancestral Pueblo archeological sites, along with a diverse and scenic landscape, and the country’s largest National Park Service Civilian Conservation Corps National Landmark District.

(Hiking the Main Trail)

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Road Trip – 2016 Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico

The Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi, in Santa Fe, New Mexico

(The Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi, in Santa Fe, New Mexico)

Day 4 we hit the road at 8:30 a.m. and by 9:30 we were smack in the middle of Santa Fe, the state capital of New Mexico. Santa Fe probably boasts as long, colorful, and fascinating a history as any city in the USA, and it’s a place you can’t fully appreciate without knowing at least a little of that history.

 

The city of Santa Fe was founded by Spanish colonists in 1610. It’s the oldest state capital city in the United States and the oldest city in New Mexico. It was a provincial capital under Spanish rule until the Mexicans gained their independence in 1810, when it then became the seat of the territory of Santa Fe de Nuevo México. Next came the Texans who had seceded from Mexico in 1836 and claimed Santa Fe and surrounding territory as part of western Texas along the Rio Grande. When in 1846, the United States declared war on Mexico, General Stephen W. Kearny led 1,700 soldiers into Santa Fe to claim it and the whole New Mexico Territory for the United States. By 1848 the U.S. had officially gained New Mexico by terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Santa Fe then became the capital of New Mexico territory prior to it’s statehood in 1912.

(The Palace of the Governors, Santa Fe)

It's a colorful crowd in the plaza

(It’s a colorful crowd in the plaza)

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