What to do in New Mexico and nearby?

The megacorp I work for is apparently losing money hand over fist, and is therefore strongly urging employees to use vacation. Apparently accounting hocus pocus will then make it look like we’ve lost less money than we have.

So, I decided to take a trip to New Mexico, since I’d always wanted to spend a little time in the desert southwest, but really wasn’t in the mood for the Vegas-Grand Canyon thing. I figure this is either going to be a vacation with a bunch of nice, pleasant surprises, or the most boring thing I’ve done since the west coast of Florida.

I’m flying into Albuquerque. About the only things I know I’m going to be doing is spending a day or so in Santa Fe looking at artsy-fartsy stuff, and crossing into Colorado to see Mesa Verde. So I guess maybe this is more of a four corners vacation.

Anyway, I know diddley about the area (which is why I’m going there). Any travel suggestions would be most welcome. BTW, I don’t want to spend a whole lot of money, since I don’t have it.

I haven’t been there in a really long time, but you should plan your trip around food-related activities, as well. Some of the “suggest a restaurant” threads had some excellent suggestions.

Also, here’s some stuff: http://www.newmexico.org/learn/index.php

My personal recommendation would be to head the other way down to the Alamogordo, Cloudcroft, Ruidosa area. Very beautiful.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlsbad_Caverns

These are awesome too see.

If you are going up to Mesa Verde, also check out the Great Sand Dunes (Monument?) and the Four Corners.

In New Mexico, go to a Pueblo. Try to find out if there is a festival at one of them, you won’t regret it. The Ruidoso area is also very pretty.

If you get down to southern NM, White Sands is awesome. (and cheap). You could go on the tram at Sandia–there’s also a casino in Albuquerque, as well as near Ruidoso. Make sure you eat some green chile.

http://www.nps.gov/state/NM/

Bandalier and Chaco are exceptionally badas… err… awesome. Taos is every bit as neat as Sante Fe if you’re looking for towns to hang in. Go to the bridge over the Rio there too, Taos Box.

The entire 4 Corners area is simply fantastic but you’re going to encounter mileage limitations at some point.

There’s always Area 51 and Roswell.

If you’re into hiking, tent rocks is pretty cool, and about halfway between Santa Fe and Albuquerque.

You can go to Chaco on your way up to Mesa Verde. Actually, seeing both would be great, you’d get a more comprehensive view of that ancient culture. Once you’re in the Mesa Verde area you can go north and east through some terrific mountain country - up 145 then back down 550 (236 miles if you do a complete loop including 160 and 62) - or you can go west into southeastern Utah canyon country which must be seen to be believed. Either way we’re talking a lot of driving. How much time do you have? Are you a drivin’ fool? :smiley:

The Sangre de Cristo mountains, up around Cimarron in northern NM, are beautiful and hikeable. Check with the locals as to the best trails.

Thanks for all the suggestions.

If you drive to Mesa Verde, you’ll likely go through or near Farmington, NM. If you play golf, they have the best muni course in the country called Pinon Hills.

There’s another course outside Albuquerque called Paa Ko Ridge that’s a bit steeper pricewise but absolutely stunning.

Bandelier is beautiful, and I offer the Pueblo Tesuque Flea Market just outside Santa Fe. I haven’t been in 10 years, but I think it’s still running.

Another vote for Bandelier. Also, consider the “wrong way” between Albuquerque and Santa Fe (goes by Los Alamos and the Valles Grande caldera). Really scenic. Stop by Los Ojos (Jemez Springs) if it’s still open and get the Chile Charlie (green chile cheese fries!).

Petroglyph National Monument is right near Albuquerque and is a nice day hike. The deeper into the park you go, the more petroglyphs you see. A relatively easy hike with kids too.

I do believe that Area 51 is in Nevada.

Seconded. Bandelier was beautiful as was the drive.

The drive from Alamogordo to Carlsbad Caverns via Cloudcroft and the Lincoln Nat’l Forest was also beautiful. Carlsbad is about a full day’s drive from Albuquerque but it was my favorite part of the state when I visited.

Bring a good pair of wrap-around shades if you go to White Sands - the glare off the sands was tear-inducing even with a normal pair of shades.

And wear lots of sunscreen. The gypsum sand reflects ultraviolet. You can get sunburned in places you didn’t know you had.

If you go to White Sands, swing by Alamogordo and visit the Space Hall of Fame.

I think the Sky City of Acoma is worth a visit.