Pecos and Las Vegas
Head east out of town along I-25 North about 30 miles and explore the town and wilderness areas alongside the Pecos River, then continue to the town of Las Vegas, NM, about 60 miles northeast of Santa Fe.
Pecos National Monument: Just south of the village of Pecos on NM 63 via a short and scenic drive from Santa Fe are the ruins of a fourteenth-century pueblo and a seventeenth-century mission church built on the site. The Monument also includes historic portions of the Santa Fe Trail and New Mexico’s only Civil War battle site located in Glorieta. Call 505-757-6121;www.nps.gov/pecos/
Las Vegas: Frequently confusing visitors who think the gambling town of Las Vegas, Nevada is close by, this New Mexico city of the same name is a town of 15,000 and marks the spot where the mountains end and the Great Plains begin; the Spanish name Las Vegas translates to “the plains.” Once a traditional Spanish-Colonial town complete with a central plaza, it became an important wagon stop on the Santa Fe Trail and later a regional railroad hub. Although passenger rail service eventually faded, the town has some 900 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and many of the stately old Victorian homes and public buildings are a legacy of the city’s railroad era.
Highlights of a visit to Las Vegas are the historic Plaza Hotel and Restaurant, built in 1882 but recently renovated; the Rough Rider Museum, a memorial to Teddy Roosevelt and his men, who led a charge in the Spanish-American War; and a walking tour of the ornate gingerbread structures.Other options include hiking and bird-watching at the nearby Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge and McAllister Lake. For more information about the area, call the Las Vegas/San Miguel Chamber of Commerce at 505-425-8631 or 800-832-5947;www.lvsmchamber.org.
Armand Hammer United World College of the American West: This two-year, pre-university residential school offers an international baccalaureate degree to students from around the world who are interested in international relations. The college’s main building is the restored Montezuma Castle, a former Harvey House resort and spa built alongside the Montezuma Hot Springs at the end of the spur track that brought affluent guests to the mountain retreat. The hot springs are open to the public, and the campus is also open to visitors at various times throughout the year. Another special campus attraction is the chapel-like Light Sanctuary, a quiet space designed to reflect light through prisms, creating a progression of unique prismatic reflections. Call 505-454-4200; www.uwc-usa.org