About Santa Fe, New Mexico
Facts, Trivia and useful information
Elevation: 7,200 ft (2.196 m). Population: 67,9470 (2010).
Time zone: Mountain (MST): UTC minus 7 hours. Summer (DST) MDT (UTC-6). Map of the City.
Santa Fe Trivia
Due to its height (7,200 ft - 2.196 m), it is the highest state capital in the USA.
It is also the Oldest Capital City in the US.
Santa Fe, nicknamed "The City Different", is indeed "Different": the State Capital of New Mexico (and seat of Santa Fe County), and its metro area has 144,000 residents. Its full name is "La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís", It was located on the alignment of Route 66 from 1926 to 1937.
A photo we took in 2016:
This part of New Mexico has been inhabited for more than 10,000 years (the site at Sandia Cave is proof of this). Later the Pueblo people settled in the valleys of the rivers that flowed south from the Rocky Mountains
There were Pueblo villages where Santa Fe now stands, the oldest was built around 900 AD. The Pueblo of Ogapoge was located next to the modern Plaza. The Santa Fe River provided water for crops and residents.
The Spanish explored New Mexico in the mid 1500s when Francisco Vásquez de Coronado named the native people "Pueblo", after the Spanish word for "village".
In 1598, Juan de Oñate erected San Juan de Caballeros as their capital (near modern Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo), but it was moved in 1607 to its current location; it became capital of the province of New Mexico in 1610.
Origin of the name Santa Fe
The Spaniards used the names of Catholic saints, the Virign Mary to name their towns during the Counter Reformation period. So they aptly named the town as "La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís" (Royal Town of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi).
The Indians expelled the Spanish and destroyed their towns during the Pueblo Revolt (1680). The Spanish 1692 and resettled the area.
After its independence from Spain, Nueva Mexico passed on to Mexico and Santa Fe remained as the provincial capital. After the Mexican - American War (1846-48), Mexico ceded the territory to the U.S. During the Civil War, the Confederate troops occupied the town briefly in 1862 but were forced to withdraw.
The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway bypassed Santa Fe as it was a complex engineering task to go through the town. A branch line was built in 1880 linking it to the main line at Lamy. A second railroad (Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad) built a line through the town in 1886.
In 1912, New Mexico became the 47th state of the Union and Santa Fe became its capital. At that time the city planners decided to preserve the historic town and build a harmonious town using traditional styles and methods.
In 1926, Route 66 was aligned through the town along the old Santa Fe - Las Vegas loop. But in 1937 it was realigned further south, when the "Santa Fe cut-off" shortened the road which took an east-west course from Santa Rosa through Moriarty to Albuquerque, bypassing Santa Fe.
Where to Stay
There is lodging along Route 66 in Santa Fe:
> > Book your Motels and Hotels in Santa Fe.
Lodging Near Santa Fe along Route 66
Heading West on the Main alignment..
Heading East main Route 66....
- 53 miles.Motels and Hotels in Moriarty
- 134 miles. Motels and Hotels in Santa Rosa.
- 194 miles. Motels and Hotels in Tucumcari.
The Santa Fe Route 66 segment
- 67 miles. Motels and Hotels in Las Vegas NM.
Weather in Santa Fe
The climate in Santa Fe is semi-arid, it has rather hot summers and very cold winters. Altitude and the dry air influence the daily temperature swings which can jump around 25°F (14°C) on average during the day.
The average high in Summer (July) is 85.9°F (29.9°C), and the average low is 54.4°F (9.7°C). In winter the average high is (Jan) 43.5°F (6.4°C) with an average low of 17.5°F (-8.1°F).
Rainfall is 14.2 in (360 mm) yearly with most falling during June through Sept. during the "North American Monsoon" period. There are 66 days with precipitation per year. Snow falls between October and March: 23 inches (58 cm), the average is less than 9 snowy days per year.
The tornado risk in Santa Fe is nil: Santa Fe county has no Tornado watches. Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.
Getting to Santa Fe
Santa Fe lies on the original 1926 alignment of Route 66 and is linked to the modern alignment at both ends of the "Santa Fe Loop": Albuquerque, to the south and through Las Vegas NM, to Santa Rosa, Tucumcari and Glenrio which is located on the Texas ⁄ New Mexico state line.
West of Albuquerque along the old US 66 is the town of Gallup and Arizona.
Map of Route 66 in Santa Fe, NM
Check out Santa Fe on our Route 66 Map of New Mexico, with the complete alignment and all the towns along it.
The Green line marks the 1926-37 alignment through the city.
Santa Fe Map
Map with the alignment of Route 66 through Santa Fe
Click on this link > > 1926-37 US 66 alignment in Santa Fe
Route 66's alignment in New Mexico: the Historic Route 66 through Santa Fe
Route 66 across New Mexico
Historic U.S. highway 66, "Route 66" has been designated as an All-American Road and National Scenic Byway in the state of New Mexico.
Click on the following link for a Full description of Route 66 across the state of New Mexico.
Sights and Attractions in Santa Fe
Attractions and Must See Landmarks
UNESCO Creative City
Santa Fe, the ancient provincial capital of the Spanish Colony of Nueva Mejico is a historic town with Route 66 landmarks and an artistic flair.
The city was appointed to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network due to the great achievements of its cultural development and diversity: fairs, crafts, and multicultural character.
Santa Fe its Attractions
A Walking Tour in Santa Fe
The burning of Zozobra (Spanish for "gloom" or "despair") takes place in September. It is the celebration of Diego de Vargas' reconquest of Santa Fe in 1692.
A gigantic 50-foot (15 m) marionette is torched. More details: burnzozobra.com.
See the Walking tour Map, which covers the main sights in the downtown of Santa Fe.
Spanish colonial towns in America were laid out following strict rules laid down by the King and his Consejo de Indias Council. A central square was laid down and the main buildings of the community were built around it: the Cabildo (or City Hall), the governor's offices if it was a capital city, the Cathedral and the main convents (Franciscans, Dominicans, etc.). The towns usually had a grid-like lay out and were nestled against a stream or river (Santa Fe River in this case).
Begin your walking tour at the main square (Plaza):
Palace of the Governors
120 Washington Ave., Santa Fe, NM.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places & U.S. National Historic Landmark
The adobe building has been the seat of government in New Mexico since 1610, it is located on the central Plaza of Santa Fe. See its Street View.
It is the oldest continuously occupied public building in the U.S.
It was the seat of the Spanish colonial governor in New Mexico and of the territorial government in the late 1800s. From 1909 to 2009 it was the Museum of New Mexico.
Visit the The New Mexico Museum of History which is just behind the Palace.
Bordered by Old Santa Fe Trail, Washington, Lincoln Avenues and San Francisco St.
Buy some ot the handicrafts created by Native American artists, at their stalls under the Palace's historic portal.
End of the Santa Fe Trail Marker. Austin Whittall
This has been for over 400 years the center of the city. Native American vendors and stores line the streets around it, a neat green island in the heart of town.
See the Santa Fe Trail ending place on the SE corner of the Plaza on E San Francisco St and Old Santa Fe Trail
The Santa Fe Trail
Santa Fe was linked to Mexico City to the south by the "Camino Real de Tierra Adentro", a Royal Highway built by the Spanish Crown. Another trail was opened in the 1792 across the Great Plains to trade with the French Louisiana settlements on the Missouri River (now St. Joseph and Independence MO).
Wagon trains used it to move goods and pioneers to settle the west.
Head one block east along E. San Francisco St. and visit the Cathedral:
Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi
131 Cathedral Place, Santa Fe, NM.
Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, Santa Fe, NM. Austin Whittall
A church has stood on this ground since 1610, the current Cathedral was built between 1869 and 1886 in a French Romanesque Revival style.
See its Street View.
It is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Santa Fe and was commissioned by Archbishop Lamy. The original church was destroyed during the Pueblo Indian Revolt of 1680 and another church was rebuilt there in 1692. Remains of the former church can be seen in the Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary.
The wooden image of the Virgin was first brought to Santa Fe in 1625.
Take a right along Cathedral Pl and another right along. E. Water St. to visit Loretto Chapel:
207 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe
See Street View.
Built in 1878 by the Sisters of the Loretto, in a Gothic-Revival Style it was inspired by King Louis IX's Sainte Chapelle (Paris). The "Miraculous Staircase" is its main sight.
Route 66 sign
"Historic Route 66" sign. Austin Whittall
Head west along E. Water St. and to your right, at the junction with the Old Santa Fe trail (Street View), is a Route 66 road sign marking the "Pre-1937" alignment. See the photo we took in 2016:
Continue your downtown walking tour
You have several options: you can go back to the Plaza and visit the Downtown Museums there, or you can head south along the Old Santa Fe Trail for 2 blocks from the Route 66 sign, crossing Santa Fe River (actually a small stream) to reach Vargas St. and visit the Oldest Church and the Oldest Home in the U.S.A, located in the Barrio De Analco Historic District:
Barrio De Analco Historic District
E de Vargas St., Santa Fe, NM.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
It includes many historic buildings. Its name combines the Nahuatle language words "A" (water), "nal" (close to) and "co" (place), meaning "close to the water", in allusion to the Santa Fe River that runs next to it.
Besides San Miguel Mission and the Oldest House in the States, both mentioned below, there are several buildings that you can see along Old Santa Fe Trail and East Vargas Street:
- St. Michael's Dormitory or Lamy Building. 413 Old Santa Fe Trail.
- Gregorio Crespin House. 132 E. De Vargas St.
- Roque Tudesqui House. 129-135 E. De Vargas St.
- Boyle House. 327 E. De Vargas St.
- Adolph Bandelier House. 352 E. De Vargas St.
Walk east along East De Vargas Street to visit them.
San Miguel Mission
The Oldest Church in the United States (1610)
401 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM. Street view.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
San Miguel Mission, oldest church in the U.S., our photo from 2016:
Located on the corner of E. Vargas St. and Old Santa Fe Trail. Building began in 1610 and finished in 1625 making San Miguel Mission (or San Miguel Chapel) the oldest church in the United States
Located on the main throughfare towards the south of New Mexico, this Catholic church is still active. It was built in adobe, in a Romanesque fortress style, with a flat roof and thick walls. The building was damaged during the 1680 Pueblo Revolt but rebuilt after the return of the Spanish (1692 - 1710). The wooden image of St. Michael was carved in 1709 and added to the church in 1798.
Oldest House in the U.S.
De Vargas Street House
215 East De Vargas St. Santa Fe
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
The oldest house in the United States
It was built on the remains of an ancient Indian Pueblo inhabited from 1200 to 1435 A.D. When the Spanish settled the area in 1608 their native auxiliaries set up their homes here, and gave the ward (Barrio) its name "Analco" (close to the water). The area was razed during the Pueblo Revolt in 1680. After the reconquest of the town in 1692, the house was repaired and in 1709-1710 was the residence of the new Governor Marquis of Peñuela.
It has remained continually occupied by people until the 1920s. Now it has a gift shop and a small "museum" with items from the 1700s.
See its Street View.
Head East along Vargas St. to visit the Canyon Road Art Galleries:
Canyon Road Art Galleries
One of the Greatest Streets in the United States
Canyon Road is located to the southeast of the Plaza and the Cathedral, on the south side of Santa Fe River, and a western continuation of East Vargas Street (see the Map).
It has most of the art galleries in Santa Fe, and has a wide range of art, spanning Southwestern, Native AMerican, experimental, contemporary and Taos Masters pieces.
Head back to the Plaza to visit the downtown museums:
There are several museums close to the Historic Plaza:
New Mexico History Museum
113 Lincoln Avenue, Santa Fe NM.
The history of Santa Fe and New Mexico just behind the Palace of the Governors. (Map).
More Information (505) 476-5200. www.nmhistorymuseum.org
New Mexico Museum of Art
107 W Palace Ave, Santa Fe. On the NW corner of the Plaza next to the Governors Palace
It houses collections of Southwestern Arts. See Map.
Santa Fe Indian Market
New Mexico's largest cultural event is organized by SWAIA, an advocate for Native American arts & culture (swaia.org).
The fair is held annually every August, with over 600 boths with crafts and art on the Santa Fe Plaza where you can shop and taste local food too.
Georgia O'Keeffe Museum
217 Johnson St., Santa Fe
Just two blocks west of the Plaza (Map).
It exhbits the work of New Mexico-based artist Georgia O'Keefe, she lived in Santa Fe and Abiquiu NM.
There are several museums at Museum Hill, located 2 miles southeast of the Plaza. See its Street View
- Museum of International Folk Art, with folk art, toys and textiles
- Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, with 70,000 objects of Native American art.
- Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian; exhibits of their history and art.
- Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, a journey into Spanish Colonial America
Other Sights in Downtown
Rail Runner To Albuquerque
Santa Fe Depot
Just eight blocks west of the Plaza. Visit the historic Railyard District with shop at Sanbusco Market Center. See Location map.
Buy your ticket online or onboard. A high-speed rail link that gets you to Albuquerque in 80 minutes. Named after the "Roadrunner", the state bird, it gives you some views of the Sandia, San Felipe, Santo Domingo and Cochiti pueblos.
The train station in Albuquerque is in the downtown area Albuquerque Station.
Santuario de Guadalupe, Santa Fe, NM. Austin Whittall
Click image for Street View
Santuario de Guadalupe
100 S. Guadalupe St., Santa Fe
Just southwest of the main Plaza, it is the oldest extant shrine dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe in the United States.
Japanese American internment camp
Frank Ortiz Park, Casa Solana subdivision, Santa Fe.
A marker on a granite boulder marks the spot in the Casa Solana neighborhood, 2 miles northwest of the downtown area. See its Map & location.
The camp held 4,555 Japanese civilians and Japanese Americans during World War II. The barracks were demolished in the 1950s.
Classic Motels, Motor Courts and Gas Stations
Cerrillos Avenue was the main link between Santa Fe and Albuquerque. It was also the alignment of Route 66 and US Highway 85 when they were created in 1926. Route 66 was realigned in 1937, but US 85 is still there (south of town it is now part of I-25). Many classic motels have survived and are still open. Below are some of them:
De Vargas Hotel, now St. Francis
210 Don Gaspar Avenue, Santa Fe
The old De Vargas Hotel is still there, under a new name: Hotel St. Francis, a 4-star hotel.
It has been here for more than one century, as you can see in this 1915 postcard. The postcard below, from the 1940s says the following: "'At the End of the Santa Fe Trail'... near historic Plaza... within one block of State Capitol... Coffee Shop, Barbrer Shop, Beauty Shop and Cocktail Lounge".
You can Book a Room in the Hotel St. Francis.
The De Vargas Hotel in a vintage Postcard www.terapeal.ca. Click to enlarge.
Turn west and head for Cerrillos Road, take a left and head south:
El Pueblo Court
1412 Cerrillos Rd.
Owned by John J. Koury, it had "17 completely modern units, wal to wall carpeting, tiled bath rooms.". It is still hosting guests, as the International Hostel Santa Fe Pension, a B&B.
El Pueblo Court in a classic 1960s postcard
El Pueblo Court nowadays is a Hostel
Texaco Gas Station
A 1930s Texaco filling stastion. Google.
Right beside the old Pueblo Court is a building (Film Technicians) which can be seen in the motel's postcard above as a Texaco Gas Station. The building is stil there with some minor changes. It dates back to the 1930s.
King's Rest Court Inn: Neon Sign
1452 Cerrillos Rd.
We have listed it because of its Neon Sign, worth stopping to take a picture of it.
King's Rest Court Inn
Western Scene Motel
1608 Cerrillos Rd.
This motel, which is unchanged as you can see in the photo and postcard below, at one time was also known as the Western Holiday Hotel as you can see in this postcard, however it was and stil is the Western Scene Motel. The old neon sign is stil there too:
The Western Scene Motel in a classic postcard
The postcard says "One of the Finer Motels in "The City Different"... Telephone in every Room. T-V and Music... All Credit Cards Honored":
The Western Scene Motel nowadays
1742 Cerrillos Rd., Santa Fe
The postcard of the Cottonwood Court (Which is still open) said: "Duncan Hines Recommended. 'One of Santa Fe's Finest' George & Irma Sale Operating Owners. AAA Approved". Duncan Hines (1880-1959) was an American entrepreneur who introduced the concept of restaurant ratings for travelers.
Cottonwood Court Motel in a classic 1960s postcard
It has undergone some minor changes but it kept its neon sign:
Cottonwood Court Motel today:
1821 Cerrillos Rd, Santa Fe
The former Thunderbird Inn is no longer a motel, but offers monthly rental apartments. Its 1960s postcard tells us the following: "44 Rooms, 5 Suites, Family Rooms, Air-conditioning, Color TV, Room Phones, Heated Pool, Playground, with Restaurants nearby... U.S. Highway 85 South, one mile from Historic Old Plaza".
The Thunderbird Inn, in a 1950s postcard
The motel has not change much since the 1960s:
Thunderbird Inn nowadays
El Rey Motel
1862 Cerrillos Road, Santa Fe
The El Rey Motel (which in Spanish means "The King") had "40 Luxurious Units situated on spacious grounds... 1 1⁄2 miles south of State Capitol on Albuquerque Highway... "In Old Santa Fe"". It is stil open as a motel, the El Rey Inn.
You can Book a Room in the El Rey Inn.
El Rey Motel in a classic 1960s postcard
El Rey Motel nowadays: El Rey Inn
Don't miss the gas station facing it across the street:
Phillips 66 Gull Wing Gas Station
1863 Cerrillos Rd.
Gull-wing gas station. Google. Click for Street view
The Phillips 66 gas station from the 1960s is currently an auto dealership. Back in the 1960s, Phillips Petroleum Co. standardized their filling stations across the US and adopted a modern design with a triangular "gull-wing" canopy which was supported at its narrow tip by a pole designed to look like an oil derrick. A Phillips 66 revolving sign stood at the top of the pole. There are two in Albuquerque NM: Phillips 66 Gull Wing Gas Station and the Albuquerque Gull Wing, there are more of them on Route 66, like the ones in Missouri: Eureka and Hazelgreen, the Vinita Phillips Gull Wing in Oklahoma and the Tucumcari Phillips Gull Wing in NM.
2405 Cerrillos Rd.
The motel is still operating under the name Lampligher Motel, and has kept its original western ranch style with a gabled roof, but lost its 1960s neon sign. The postcard said: "Luxurious, New... Heated swimming pool. Pancake House and Restaurant... Omer and Orva Brazda - Co-Owners and Mgrs.":
The Lamplighter Motel in a vintage Postcard www.cardcow.com. Click to enlarge.
Silver Saddle Motel
2810 Cerrillos Rd.
The 1950s postcard tells us that: "14 beautiful units. Franciscan Style Furniture... ceramic tile baths... Cool in summer, warm in Winter. Friendly Western Hospitality. Owned and Operated by Tye and Thelma Terrell". It is still there, since 1958 (now it has Wi-Fi):
Silver Saddle Motel in a classic 1960s postcard
Some changes (a second floor in the front) and an even nicer neon sign, but basically unchanged:
Silver Saddle Motel today:
Westerner Motel - now Stage Coach Motor Inn
3360 Cerrillos Road, Santa Fe
The old Westener Motel announced in its 1957 postcard pictured below: "Only 8 minutes from Plaza... At the Foothils of the Beautiful Sangre De Cristo Mountains... Of Spanish-Indian architecture... In easy driving distance to the picturesque Indian Pueblos". The motel is stil open, now operating as the Stage Coach Motor Inn with the same "Spanish-Indian architecture". Don't miss is lovely neon sign:
The Westerner Motel - now Stage Coach Motor Inn in a classic postcard
The Westerner Motel - now Stage Coach Motor Inn nowadays
And this is the end of the Motel's Tour in Santa Fe
Tours & Itineraries plus outdoor Fun
Nearby Route 66 Towns
Visit Northern Indian Pueblos
A full day tour from Santa Fe to Taos Pueblo visiting Native Pueblos along the way. These are eight Indian Pueblos located in the mountains between Santa Fe and Colorado. Buy souvenirs and experience the Native culture and foods. Check out some of their feast days to witness their celebrations and dances.
Important rules of etiquette during your visit to a Pueblo
Pueblos are on tribal lands and the local customs, religion and traditions must be respected.
- Check that access is allowed (leaders may restrict access for private ceremonies) and be prepared to pay an access fee.
- Photography. Taking photos may be totally prohibited or a permit may be required. Check with the Tribal Office. Even if you have a permit, always request permission before taking a photo of a tribal member. Leave your cell phone out of sight and silence it, as it could be confiscated.
- Don't litter. Don't carry or use alcohol or drugs.
- "Off Limits" signs must be respected. Don't remove artifacts or pottery shards.
- Don't speed. Respect traffic signs.
- Respect the local people. Dances are not a show, they are a ceremony. Show respect and remain silent at all ceremonies.
- Cemeteries, Kivas, ceremonial rooms are sacred places and entry is not allowed for non-Pueblo people.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
Occupied since 1,200 AD "Te-Tsu-Geh" means "Cottonwood Tree Place" in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
Visit the Tesuque Pueblo Flea Market and experience the local Feast days: Corn Dance and Blessing of the Fields (First Saturday in June) and the San Diego Feast Day (Nov. 12).
From Tesuque head north along U.S. 84 to Pojoaque.
The name derives from "P'o Suwae Geh" (Water Drinking Place). Stop by to visit the Poeh Cultural Center and Museum.
Head east along NM-503 and after 2 miles you will reach Nambé Pueblo.
Pueblo people at Ohkay Owingeh. Carptrash
A place to buy pottery and jewels. Visit the Nambé Falls Recreation Area with a waterfall and the Feast days with traditional dances (more information at www.nambepueblo.org).
Head back to Pojoaque and from there take NM-502, westwards for 7 miles to reach San Ildelfonso Pueblo.
San Ildefonso Pueblo
The natives moved here in the late 1500s and named it "Po-Who-Ge-Oweenge" means "Where the Water Cuts Through". It is next to the Black Mesa.
Well known for its black-on-black pottery, visit the Maria Poveka Martinez Museum and the San Ildefonso Museum.
Don't miss the Jan. 23 Feast Day with Buffalo or Deer Dances and a Nativity Feast on Sept. 10 with the Corn Dance
Head west along NM 502 and then north along NM-30 to reach Santa Clara Pueblo after 12 miles, on the way stop at Puye Cliffs.
Visit the Cliff Dwellings built by the early Pueblo people, enjoy the great views and visit an original Harvey House (hotels, restaurants and shops built by Fred Harvey for the Santa Fe Railway in the early 1900s.)
Santa Clara Pueblo
The natives who moved hiere in 1550 named it "Ka'p'o" (Valley of the Wild Roses). It is famous for its red and black pottery, willow baskets and animal figurines.
There is a golf course and casino. But the must-see sight is the Santa Fe Clara Feast Day with Buffalo, Harvest or Corn Dance on Aug. 12.
Head 7 miles north from Santa Clara, along U.S. 84 and NM-68 and reach Ohkay Owingeh:
The name means "Village of the Strong People", at one time it was known as "San Juan Pueblo". It has cliff dwellings. The Spanish conquistador Juan de Oñate built the first capital city of New Mexico close to this pueblo.
Its San Juan Lakes are a fishing spot. Visit the local native craftspeople and artists at the Oke Oweenge Crafts Cooperative.
There is a resort, hotel and casino.
Head for Picuris Pueblo located off the main highway between Okhay Owingeh and Taos, 30 mi. east of the former.
Next to the Rio Pueblo River in the "hidden valey" its name means "Those Who Paint". The place is well known for its micaceous pottery.
Visit its adobe church San Lorenzo de Picuris (during the St. Lawrence Feast on Aug. 10 there are dances and pole climbing). Don't miss the Picuris Pueblo Museum and the buffalo herd.
From Picuris head on towards Taos Pueblo (it is 61 mi. from Okhay Owinge to Taos via Picuris, 45 mi. bypassing Picuris).
Taos Pueblo, Taos, NM.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
The 1680 Pueblo Revolt began here, at "Tau-Tah" (The Place of the Red Willows) a World Heritage site of UNESCO
It is one of the U.S.'s oldest continuously occupied villages. Renown for its art and multi-storied adobe buildings. Don't miss the Feast Day of San Geronimo (Sept. 30) and the Taos Pow-wow (July 11-13).
More Amazing Side Trips
El Rancho de las Golondrinas
334 Los Pinos Road, Santa Fe.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
Rancho de las Golondrinas Santa Fe, NM. Google. Click for Street View
The name is Spanish and means "Ranch of the Swallows" -the birds; it was founded in 1710 by Miguel Vega y Coca. Today it recreates the life on an 18th-century Spanish colonial ranch.
The buildings date from the early 1700s. It was the last stop on the Camino Real that linked Mexico City with Santa Fe, which is 12 mi. to the north.
Guides dressed in period clothing show how people lived in those days.
The Turquoise Trail
This circuit is a full day trip, almost 120 miles (round trip) to the south of Santa Fe through to Tijeras.
Turquoise Trail scenic byway road sign. Santa Fe, NM. Austin Whittall
You will be able to drive up the Sandia Crest Scenic Byway to the summit at 10,652 ft. (3.249 m) for spectacular views of Albuquerque and the forested Sandia mountains.
Jemez Mountain Trail and Southern Pueblos
This is a full day round trip with many different variants, below we describe them all.
The route visits pueblos south of Santa Fe and then winds through the Jémez Mountains with cliffs, forests and a gushing river take you back to the colonial past of New Mexico.
Head south from Santa Fe along I-25 and head right at Exit 259 along NM-22 to visit Santo Domingo Pueblo (Kewa Pueblo):
Santo Domingo Pueblo
The pueblo was also known as "Kewa Pueblo" and is well known for its Aug. 4 ceremonial dance in honor of St. Dominic, the Patron Saint of the pueblo.
There is a museum and the Labor Day Arts and Crafts Market.
From Santo Domingo, return to I-25 and head south until Exit 252, where you head west to San Felipe Pueblo along Indian Svc. Rd. 85.
San Felipe Pueblo
Its native name is Katishtya. The Spanish pueblo was established in 1706. Its annual feast is St. Philip on May 1 with a traditional native corn dance.
Leave the town and head back to I-25 and turn southbound until reaching Exit 242 at Bernalillo. Take a right onto US 550.
See the Map with Directions.
Two key sights to visit in Bernalillo:
Coronado Historic Site
485 Kuaua Rd, Bernalillo, near Exit 242 on I-25. see Map and directions.
New MexicoState Monument
Vintage car at the J&R Museum
It includes the partially rebuilt ruins of the Pueblo of Kuaua (which means "evergreen" in the native Tiwa language). It was occupied between 1300 A.D. and the 1590s.
Visit the Interpretative Center to view the original native murals. Walk the interpretative trail and visit the sacred underground ceremonial room or Kiva.
More details: www.nmmonuments.org/coronado
J&R Vintage Auto Museum
3650-A Hwy. 528 Rio Rancho, NM (Map).
Houses more than 60 fully restored vintage cars and antique trucks. Books and die-cast toys sold. www.jrvintageautos.com.
To San Ysidro and Jémez
Leave Bernalillo and head west along US-550.
The Zia Sun symbol is the native motif that appears on the New Mexico State flag. This pueblo was occupied by the Spanish in 1583. It is on the north side of the river (see Map).
Just ahead along US 550 take a right along NM-4 it leads to the Spanish colonial village or Pueblo of San Ysidro (Map). The highway takes a northern course next to the Jémez River which irrigates the farms in this dry area. Visit the resored adobe church.
Follow NM 4 and reach Jémez Pueblo (Map), where you should stop at the Walatowa Visitor Center (www.jemezpueblo.org) for an overview of the area's history and visit its museum.
Stop and see the red clay pottery a feature of the village.
Just ahead is the village of Walatowa (which means "The Place").
The Hemish natives (Jémez) lived in this area in 60 pueblos with 30,000 inhabitants when the Spanish arrived in 1541. The conquerors grouped them in two mission-towns. The only one still standing is Walatowa.
Gilman Tunnels: A short five mile side trip
Just north of Jémez to the left is NM-485, take it and drive along it for 5 miles. The narrow road follows the Guadalupe River passing by small farms until the canyon narrows and granite rocks appear on both sides. A railroad built in the 1920s, to move the logs downhill cut two tunnels through the cliffs.
Towards Jemez Springs
Head along NM-4 northwards as the road follows the Jémez River through the Cañon de San Diego, and reach Jemez Springs, a State Monument (www.jemezsprings.org).
See Map. The small village was built in the 1860s and has a Bathhouse built in the 1870s and refurbished, where you can get a massage and bathe in the hot water spring. The Indians built a pueblo here and named it Giusewa ("Place of Boiling Waters"), After the Spanish conquest a mission was erected (San Jose de Los Jemez Mission). The pueblo ruins and the church are now part of the State Monument; see the Street View of the ruins at the State Park.
Ahead, one mile north of the village is the Soda Dam, a natural dam built by layers of mineral deposits that block the narrow canyon almost entirely; the river cuts through it. Street View.
The road heads north passing Battleship Rock, a volcanic ridge and then reaches La Cueva, where the road forks and offers different alternatives for your day trip:
West to Fenton Lake and Cuba
At La Cueva you can buy some snacks and head along the left fork, NM-126, reaching Fenton Lake, a State Park, 8 mi. west.
Lake Fenton State Park, near Albuquerque, NM
Turn back to La Cueva or head northwest going through the Santa Fe National Forest reaching Cuba after 30 miles -there are 20 mi. of unpaved road in the central part of NM-126, closed in winter. (Map), where you can take the road back to I-25 along NM-550. See the map of this alternative, which is a 105 mile long loop from San Ysidro and back again, through Cuba.
East to Jémez Falls, Bandelier National Monument and Santa Fe.
From Las Cuevas keep along NM-4 and head east into the forest of aspens and pines, at the Jémez Falls Campground is a trail that leads to the 70 ft. cascade of Jémez Falls (0.5 mi trek).
Valles Caldera National Preserve
After 5 mi., the road enters the Valles Caldera National Preserve (www.vallescaldera.gov) a park that covers a collapsed volcano that erupted over 1 million years ago. You can return via NM-4 using the same route you came by or head east towards Santa Fe and from there head back to Santa Fe:
map from La Cueva via Bandelier Nat. Mon.,Los Alamos to Santa Fe, the distance is 76 miles and the road passes by Bandelier National Monument, with pueblo cave dwellings and petroglyphs.
More day trips
See our Parks and Outdoors section below for more nature related activities and day trips.
The Old alignment of Route 66 near Santa Fe
Route 66 was originally aligned through Santa Fe (1926), but in 1937 the "Santa Fe Cut-off" shortened the Mother Road by linking Santa Rosa with Albuquerque via Moriarty.
The original 1926 alignment South of Santa Fe
The road is cut in parts so it no longer exists. We will describe and show a map of each of the segments that can still be driven between Santa Fe and Bernalillo.
1. From the Historic Santa Fe Plaza to Country Road 56C (by airport). Map of this segment.
2. From the Country Road 56C to north of Santa Fe River, at the summit of the "Bajada de Santa Fe". Map of this segment.
Bajada de Santa Fe
The village of La Bajada (visit its church built in 1837) was established between 1695 and 1737 as a rest stop along the "Camino Real" that linked Santa Fe with Mexico City at the base of a 600 foot (183 m) escarpment. It was located on a native road which later would be used as a U.S. territorial wagon road (1860s), and become the NM-1 highway and the National Old Trails highway (1909).
There is a steep zig-zag road that climbs from the lower mesa (La Majada Mesa) to the upper one (La Bajada Mesa), which became part of US 66 and US 85 when they were aligned through here in 1926. There were very steep grades (up to 15 percen) on the climb, with switchbacks and dangerous curves.
3. "Bajada" into the Santa Fe River Canyon: you can hike it. See its Satellite view and Map
4. From the Santa Fe River to NM-16. Map of this Segment.
5. From NM16 south to Domingo. Map of this segment.
6. From Domingo, to modern NM22. Map of this segment.
South of this point the road no longer exists, it cut across through Budaghers and on the south side of I-25 kept on towards Algodones, north of which it is now the roadbed of NM-313, which at one time was the Camino Real and US 66 & 85. Keep south along it until reaching Bernalillo. Map of this segment.
The map's is from the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection. Metadata: Author and Publisher: Rand McNally and Company, Chicago. Date: 1927. Full Title: Rand McNally junior auto road map Arizona, New Mexico. Copyright by Rand McNally & Co., Chicago, Ill. (1927). List No: 5755.032 Page No: 66-67 Series No: 36.
The 1932 - 1937 alignment bypassing "La Bajada"
In the early 1930s the road between Domingo and Santa Fe was straighened out and the horrible hairpin Bajada into the Santa Fe River Canyon was bypassed. The road followed the current alignment of U.S. 85 (I-25) from Cerrillos Road to Algodones. Santo Domingo was relegated.
Leave the central part of Santa Fe along Alameda St., Sandoval St. and then Cerrillos Rd. Cross US 84, keep SW, the road becomes NM-14. Get on I-25 at Exit 278.
At Exit 259 you can take a side trip to visit Santo Domingo..
The 1926- 1937 alignment south of Bernalillo
Leave I-25 at Exit 248 and take a right and then a left along Camino Real Pan American Central Hwy or NM-313, and follow it south all the way into Albuquerque.
At Sandia Pueblo the highway merges with NM-556 at a roundabout. Head west along NM 556, it becomes 4th St. NW. At Lomas Blvd., 4th St. changes direction so nowadays you must follow 5th until meeting the other alignment of US 66 on Central Ave. See the Map of this segment.
And to the south and west of Albuquerque with the two alignments of Route 66 (1926 and 1937): West and south of Albuquerque.
From Las Vegas to Santa Fe
The 1926 alignment into Santa Fe
West of Santa Rosa, at Exit 267 (119 miles from the Texas - New Mexico state line), to the north, is NM 379, the original 1926 alignment via Las Vegas to Santa Fe. At the next Exit 256 (NM 219 departs north to Santa Fe with US. 84, following the early 1930s alignment).
Leave I-40 and drive north towards Las Vegas along the highway until reaching I-25 at Romeoville (Exit 239), along I-25 to the east is Las Vegas:
Take I-25 at Romeoville and keep west along it. Take Exit 335 and follow the frontage road as it crosses back and forth across I-25: At Serafina take Hwy B26A on the south side and then back to the north side along the Frontage Road and, again, on the south at Pecos River.
The road courses along a forested mountainous region. Pass Ilfeld and at Exit 307 go to the north side along NM-63, pass through Pecos and take NM-50 to leave the town.
At Glorieta use Exit 299 to return to I-25 West. At Exit 294, take the "Old Las Vegas Highway" NM-300, which is the Frontage Rd., see the Historic church:
Our Lady of Light - Nuestra Señora de Luz Church
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
Historic Nuestra Señora de Luz Church, Santa Fe
The Nuestra Senora de Luz Church ("Our Lady of Light") and Cemetery was built in 1880. And is located 14.7 mi. southeast of Santa Fe on the north frontage road, Canoncito 998 (Old Las Vegas Hwy.)
The frontage road becomes NM-466 as it reaches Santa Fe. Go right into the city center along Pecos Trail, leaving NM-466; merge with the "Old Santa Fe Trail", and reach the downtown area.
Accommodation Search box:
National and State Parks
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument
41 miles SW of Santa Fe. Via I-25, exit 264 and NM 16 and 22. See Map and directions.
Hoodoos at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument
Near the Cochiti Pueblo the place is amazing with rock formations known as Hoodoos, cone shaped rocks of volcanic origin that formed around 6 million years ago.
There are trails that wind through canyons, climb to a mesa and give great vistas of the scenery.
For more details visit the Official Website.
Santa Fe National Forest
More information at our Pecos page.
Cibola National Forest
11776 Highway 337, Tijeras NM. (505) 281-3304. Official Website
The Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands spans several locations covering 1.6 million acres in New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma.
The area nearest Santa Fe is the Sandia and also the Mountainair Ranger Districts they are south of Santa Fe. Get Full details.
Bandelier National Monument
15 Entrance Rd, Los Alamos, NM 87544
Bandelier National Monument, Santa Fe, NM. Google. Click for Street View
It covers almost 34,000 acres (13.630 km2) and preserves pueblo structures, petroglyphs and cliff dwellings dating back to the year 1,100 A.D.
Visit its Website for full details.
Ideal place for hikers with 70 miles of hiking trails. It was named after Swiss scientist Adolph Bandelier who studied the local cultures in the 1880s.
During World War II, it housed the scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project to develop the atom bomb.
There are bears and mountain lions in the park and you should try the Main Loop Trail which is 1.2 mi. (1.9 km) long and let's you visit some archaeological sites along the way.
Parks described further up in the Side Trips...
Adventure seekers should take a try at whitewater emotion: the legendary Rio Grande and the Rio Chama (designated as one of America's Wild and Scenic Rivers) offer rafting options for all skill levels from novice to expert. There are many outfitters in Santa Fe.
Banner image: The Dead Man's Curve, Laguna, NM by Perla S. Eichenblat.