New Mexico and Arizona

We took an amazing vacation to North/Central New Mexico in September 2021. I also include a short trip I took the following week after a conference in Scottsdale.

Day 1: Dallas to ABQ

STOPS: the airport

Well, we just went to the airport and waited forever for our delayed flight to leave and get into ABQ at 2AM where there are barely any taxis or Ubers or Lyfts, but somehow made it to our AirBNB.

Today's distance: 0

Total distance: 0 (0/day)

Day 2: I-40 adventures

STOPS: Little Bear Coffee, El Malpais NM, El Morro NM, Wow Diner

Woke up early and met up with one of Caitlin's friends from med school (Emily) and her husband (Adam) who is a much better photographer than I. We picked up coffee and snacks from Little Bear then drove west along I-40 to El Malpais, where we did the El Calderon hike, with great views of the surrounding area. Because we were almost there, we headed over to El Morro where we almost bailed on the hike but ran into Emily's co-fellow, so we decided to do the short hike. It was amazing, with awesome rock cliffs and great views, everyone agreed it was very worth it. Plus there was a small natural pond and loads of rock carvings. All tired from a day of hikes, we went to find food and ended up at Wow Diner, which made sure we all left full. We then headed back to ABQ for the night.

Today's distance: 252

Total distance: (/day)

Day 3: ABQ Biopark

STOPS: El Modelo, Zendo, ABQ Biopark, 505 Central Food Hall, The Paleta Bar

Tried to get up early for a balloon ride but it was cancelled due to weather. So we got up and went to El Modelo with Adam/Emily for a monstrous amount of amazing New Mexican food. After stocking up on coffee at Zendo, we headed over to the Biopark. We spent the next few hours checking out the zoo, aquarium, and botanical gardens. We timed it perfectly because it started pouring immediately when we finished examining each plant. We headed back for a quick nap, then ate dinner at the 505 Food Hall. We met Emily/Adam for paletas from the Paleta Bar then called it a night.

Today's distance: 27

Total distance: (/day)

Day 4: ABQ to Farmington

STOPS: Humble Coffee, Sandia Peak, Mel's Chicken and BBQ, Chaco Culture NHP, Boon's Family Thai

We tried to make another balloon flight today, this time we made it to the launch site but the weather was still no good so it was scratched - a change of plans to switch things up. We picked up coffee from Humble Coffee and took a drive to the top of Sandia Peak, excellent (but windy) views. We then headed north, making it to Cuba where we ate some unprecedented chicken tendies at Mel's. From there it was just a little farther (and a lot bumpier) on the way to Chaco Culture, where we saw some amazingly preserved pueblo ruins. It was getting a little warm so we continued onwards to Farmington. We ate some dinner at Boon's Thai then called it an early night.

Today's distance: 341

Total distance: (/day)

Day 5: Bisti and More

STOPS: Bisti Badlands, Juniper Coffee, Aztec Ruins NM, Shiprock, Mikasa

Woke up extra early to make it to the hiking spot just before sunrise. The Bisti Badlands was one of the highlights of the trip plan, going for a hike in a completely desolate rock field. The sunrise was almost as unbelievable as the rock formations, including hoodoos and badlands formations everywhere. We finished after 3-4hr and headed back to town, where we ate a post-hike breakfast at Juniper Coffee. Since we were almost there, I dragged Caitlin to Aztec Ruins National Monument for a quick look at some more pueblos. We went back to the AirBNB for a nap, then drove over to Shiprock for a perfect sunset. We picked up dinner from Mikasa then went to bed after a long day.

Today's distance: 194

Total distance: (/day)

Day 6: Farmington to Madrid

STOPS: Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Area, Mel's (again), The Hollar

Made breakfast before packing up, then headed to a different badlands area, this time to hike to the fabled Alien Throne. Caitlin loved it. Made our way back to the highway over some very sketchy and poorly maintained roads, then went back to Mel's for some more chicken tendies. We headed to our AirBNB in Madrid and got dinner at the nearby restaurant (The Hollar).

Today's distance: 232

Total distance: (/day)

Day 7: Highway 4 Loop

STOPS: Pig and Fig Cafe, Bandelier NM, Valles Caldera NP, Jemez Hot Springs, The Hollar (again)

We slept in (a little) before heading out. We picked up some lunch in advance from the Pig and Fig Cafe then went to Bandelier NM where we hiked along a canyon rim and also hiked around some pueblo ruins (even climbing inside). We ate lunch then continued onwards. Driving through Valles Caldera, we saw some specks in the distance that turned out to be a herd of elk! We also saw a ton of prairie dogs hanging out. The next stop was at Jemez Hot Springs, where I got schvitzy in the schvitz. We made our way back to Madrid where we met Caitlin's parents for dinner back at The Hollar.

Today's distance: 206

Total distance: (/day)

Day 8: Santa Fe, Pt 1

STOPS: Tia Sophia, La Cieneguilla Petroglyphs, El Rancho de las Golondrinas, Santacafe

We drove into Santa Fe for breakfast at Tia Sophia's. We then met back up with Caitlin's parents and we all went for a slightly strenuous hike at La Cieneguilla Petroglyphs, although there were definitely a ton of petroglyphs to see. Switching gears, we went to learn about some of the settlements in the area at the Golondrinas. It started getting a little late, so we went home and changed, then went back to Santa Fe for dinner at Santacafe, then headed back to the AirBNB.

Today's distance: 145

Total distance: (/day)

Day 9: Santa Fe, Pt 2

STOPS: Iconik Coffee, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Collected Works, La Boca, Meow Wolf, La Fonda

We packed up to spend our last night in Santa Fe. We first picked up coffee at Iconik Coffee before dropping off our bags at La Fonda. We wandered around for a couple hours and did some shopping then went to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum. Wandering some more, I had my book fix at Collected Works. We took a break/nap, then went to dinner at La Boca before heading over to the immersive art exhibit Meow Wolf, which everyone (except me) seems to love - maybe I'm crazy. Calling the trip to a close, we went back to the hotel for the evening.

Today's distance: 36

Total distance: (/day)

Day 10: Santa Fe to home

STOPS: hotels and airports

We packed up and ate breakfast at the hotel before making the drive to ABQ and flying back to Dallas. Another trip coming to a close.

Today's distance: 72

Total distance: (/day)

(Part 2) Day 1: Scottsdale

STOPS: Deseo Coffee, Desert Botanical Garden

Already at the conference, I picked up a rental car and got some great coffee at Deseo, then spent a couple hours pre-sunset looking at cacti and other spiky plants at the Desert Botanical Garden.

Today's distance: 34

Total distance: (/day)

(Part 2) Day 2: Scottsdale to Flagstaff

STOPS: Musical Instrument Museum, Tuzigoot NM, Montezuma Castle NM, Aloha Hawaiian BBQ

Finished up the conference midday and headed out. Spent a couple hours at the amazing Musical Instrument Museum, and could have totally spent an entire day learning about instruments from around the entire world. From there, headed north (and upwards in elevation) to make it to Tuzigoot NM with some small ruins. I backtracked a bit to go to Montezuma Castle, pretty impressive that they were able to build a home high up on a cliff. I drove through Sedona, stopping every few feet to take pictures of the unbelievable scenery surrounding the town. I made it to Flagstaff and picked up dinner from Aloha Hawaiian BBQ, then went to my hotel for the night.

Today's distance: 190

Total distance: (/day)

(Part 2) Day 3: Flagstaff to Holbrook

STOPS: Sunset Crater NM, Wupakti NM, Cedar House Coffee, Walnut Canyon NM, Meteor Crater, Petrified Forest NP, Mesa Italiana

Woke up early to try to catch a sunrise. Foolishly I stood on the wrong side of Sunset Crater but still got pics aplenty, and I found a better spot for next time anyways. I drove the scenic loop to see the ruins at Wupakti NM, then finished out the entire loop. I picked up coffee from Cedar House before heading east to Walnut Canyon NM, where I did a short but steep hike to look at some cliff wall ruins along with a small but really pretty canyon. I continued east to Meteor Crater, which asks a not-too-cheap admission price, but I would say seeing the size of the well-preserved crater is worth it. I made it to Petrified Forest NP with enough time to see then entire park and do a few hikes then made it out right at sunset. I went to dinner at Mesa Italiana in Holbrook before calling it a night.

Today's distance: 331

Total distance: (/day)

(Part 2) Day 4: Holbrook to home

STOPS: Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona, Montezuma Well

I slept in a bit then backtracked my route, mainly to stop by the waypoints at Oak Creek Canyon and Sedona. I took a short detour to Montezuma Well before making it back to the airport with a little bit of time to spare before my flight home.

Today's distance: 247

Total distance: (/day)