Good Sam RV Travel Guide & Campground Directory

One Tank Trip for New Mexico Camping

Total mileage / average drive time:
118 miles – 3 hours, 2 minutes

The Land of Enchantment lies in the heart of the Southwest and contains one of the most beautiful and easily recognizable cultures in the U.S. Having traded hands several times in the past, including a stint as a Spanish Colony after the Conquistadors arrived around the 16th century; New Mexico blends the beauty of Native American, Spanish and Mexican influences. With rose-colored deserts, snow-capped peaks and broken mesas, the Land of Enchantment is a picturesque, adventured filled playground waiting to be explored.

Santa Fe
Nestled at the foot of the Rocky Mountains and surrounded by sprawling forests, Santa Fe is the perfect start for our trip. The Santa Fe Plaza is not only a National Historic Landmark, it is also a gathering place for tourist looking for distinct Native American and Southwest style art and jewelry at the Spanish and Santa Fe Indian markets. The plaza is lined with tall trees and mirrors a traditional Spanish-American colonial city, including traditional adobe buildings, which add to its incredible beauty and authentic feel. Artists have been flocking to Santa Fe since the 1880s, and today is no different. At the Canyon Road Arts District you’ll discover an unique mingling of adobe homes which date back to at least the 1750s and over a hundred fine art galleries which display works by internationally recognized artists. Since art has played such an important part in Santa Fe’s history, it should stand to reason that this great city also has a reputation for its many museums. At Museum Hill, you’ll have access to four remarkable museums within short distance of each other: The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, The Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, the Museum of International Folk art and the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian. Each of these museums, except for the Wheelwright, can be accessed with the purchase of a ticket. With your ticket, you’ll also have access to the Museum of Fine Arts and the Palace of the Governors history museum located downtown.

42.3 miles – 1 hour, 2 minutes
Let’s get moving to Espanola via US-285N. A little over 10 miles into your trip on US-285S, you’ll find Tesuque Pueblo, the oldest in the state and worth a side trip. Return to US-285S. Make a right at NM-503 and when you reach NM-76, make a left to head south into Espanola. This leg of our trip is roughly 43 miles and takes you through some of the most spectacular scenery in the state, so have your camera ready! Sitting in the northern Rio Grande Valley, Espanola was the first capital of New Mexico in 1598 when it was still in the hands of Spain. Using Espanola as a homebase, you’ll have easy access to quite a few extraordinary sights. The Bandelier National Monument is an intriguing stop where you’ll find ancestral Pueblo dwellings, petroglyphs and the Alcove House that has a 140 foot ascent of four wooden ladders and stone stairs. Imagine having to climb those every day! Espanola is within very close proximity to several casinos if you feel like getting your game on and each with world-class restaurants to tantalize your taste buds.

44.7 miles – 57 minutes
From Espanola, let’s make our way along NM-68N for the 45 mile drive into Taos. Taos is a city of alarming beauty, rich history and wide open spaces. The winter months bring inch after inch of light powder making Taos one of the most popular destinations for skiing at any of the four resorts found within the area. A visit to the Taos Pueblo is a rare treat for visitors and is the only living Native American community designated as both a World Heritage Site and as a National Historic Landmark. Within the multi-storied adobe you’ll find many shops and galleries on the ground level where you can shop for pottery or silver jewelry. The main parts of the buildings were mostly constructed between 1000 and 1450 A.D., and appear much as they did when the first Spanish explorers arrived in 1540. The Pueblo has been continuously inhabited for over 1,000 years with around 150 people living within this incredible piece of history full time. If you time your trip right, you’ll be able to experience the Taos Pueblo Pow Wow held annually, it’s a time of dance, song, brilliant traditional ceremonial dress and a gathering of friends, both new and old.

Eagle Nest
31.1 miles – 1 hour, 4 minutes
The last stop on our trip takes us out of Taos on US-64W for the approximate 54 mile trip to Eagle Nest. Nestled in the Moreno Valley and surrounded by Mexico’s two highest peaks-Baldy Mountain and Wheeler Peak, Eagle Nest is right in the middle of beautiful high country. Tall pines, scenic vistas, wildflowers and abundant wildlife teem in the area and the area is refreshingly clean. Once a ramshackle mining town, it’s estimated there has been approximately 6 million dollars in gold extracted from the mines in the surrounding areas. You’ll find little of Eagle Nest’s rough and rowdy past still standing, but what you will find is nearby Eagle Nest Lake, fully stocked with trout and a good location for you to cast your line and take a much needed siesta. Used as a gateway city, Eagle Nest is a great place to set up your rig and do some exploring of the surrounding area where you’ll have easy access to hiking trails, big game hunting and some of the most exquisite scenery in the state.

Check out the 2011 One Tank Trip For New Mexico
Check out the 2010 One Tank Trip For New Mexico
Woodall's Recommended Campgrounds in New Mexico

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