Two Days in Albuquerque, New Mexico
Let me just preface this by saying I had no idea New Mexico had such vibrant greenery and luscious forests! I guess I always just had this image in my head of Area 51, deserts, and cacti. I’ll be the first to admit I’m wrong on that one.
I spent two full days in Albuquerque, New Mexico with a good friend of mine from nursing school. There are beautiful mountains everywhere in NM so naturally we spent both days hiking. I really enjoyed the temperature difference – only a high in the 80s versus the high 90s of South Texas! Our first day we drove to the Cibola National Forest and hiked the Sandia Mountain trails. We mostly meandered on a gently undulating path through the forest on the side of one of the mountains, so the actual panoramic views were more sparse. Nonetheless it felt great to get moving in the sunshine.
We had a late lunch at O’Niell’s Pub, then went out to the Petroglyphs National Monument. Sandy and exposed, this terrain had a desert-esque feel to it. We walked about a mile on the Rinconada Canyon trail, which is very sandy and lined by large hills with rocks scattered everywhere. We did not see any petroglyphs, but we also did not hike extremely far. The thing to keep in mind with the Petroglyphs: the parking lots close at either 4:30 or 5:00pm and there will be a park ranger waiting to ticket any cars left inside the gates past closing. There were three parking spaces outside the gates so we were good, but just keep in mind the time while hiking.
For my second full day in New Mexico, we got up earlier and drove about two hours to the Santa Fe National Forest. The drive went by pretty quick, mostly highway driving lined with mountains. We hiked the Cave Creek Trail from the Panchuela campground. This trail is and out-and-back hike about 4.5 miles in length will little elevation gain. The path meanders through the trees and alongside a crystal clear creek, and it ends with the caves. I did not know what to expect with the caves and was quite pleasantly surprised. There were three different openings, right on the creek, that stretched back much farther than could be seen without a lantern. The creek flowed into the caves, and I think hikers can explore further (at their own risk of course). We did not have lights bright enough to be able to see well so we mostly hung around the entrances. All in all they were very neat, something I had not seen before.
We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around a very empty downtown Santa Fe before driving back into Albuquerque. We had dinner at the Church Street Cafe and it was great! The restaurant itself had tons of tastefully decorated outdoor seating, my food (I had the rellenos) was delicious, our server was super friendly, and the peach margaritas were to die for.
I had a fantastic time in New Mexico and would love to go back!
https://www.oniells.com/ –> O’Niell’s Restaurant
https://www.churchstreetcafe.com/ –> Church Street Cafe
https://www.alltrails.com/parks/us/new-mexico/sandia-mountain-wilderness –> Sandia Mountain Trails
https://www.nps.gov/petr/index.htm –> Petroglyphs National Monument
https://www.fs.usda.gov/santafe/ –> Santa Fe National Forest
https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/santafe/recarea/?recid=80930 –> Cave Creek Trail