The Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway is one of the most picturesque places in New Mexico. It encompasses 15,000 square miles in the central part of the state and links Santa Fe and Albuquerque.
The 50-mile drive along state highway 14 offers breathtaking views. The route passes to the east of the Sandia Mountains through a handful of old mining towns, where silver, gold, and turquoise were once carved out of the hillsides. You’ll feel like you’re going back in time as you drive through the historic mining towns that now transformed to cultural and artistic hubs.
Some of the towns and places you can visit on the Turquoise Trail include:
Cerrillos: This authentic relic of the Wild West often serves as a film set for Westerns. Quirky shops line the small main drag, where saloons and even an opera house once stood. The Cerrillos Hills Historic Park encompasses 1,100 acres of tree-covered hills with miles of hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking trails. The 1,350-acre Ortiz Mountains Educational Preserve, maintained by the Santa Fe Botanical Garden, offers hiking tours from April through October.
Golden: This was the site of the first gold rush west of the Mississippi in 1825. One of the remnants of this mining town is a church with a distinctive dome. The town also features unique shops with glasswares and antiques.
Madrid: This former gold, silver and coal mining town was revived in the 1970s. It hosts a blues festival in the summer, and the holiday season is a fun time to visit the boutiques, galleries and holiday light displays. The mine is now a museum, and the Engine House Theater holds live performances and other events.
Tinkertown Museum in Sandia Park: The brainchild and passion of Ross Ward, this folk art museum features 22 acres of wood-carved figures and his whimsical handmade dioramas of animated Western scenes as well as antique toys. It’s the perfect stop on your way up to or back down from Sandia Crest.
New Mexico is the best place to experience wanderlust. There are so many enchanting sites within an hour’s drive of Santa Fe. That’s why the Inn on the Alameda is the perfect home base for exploring.
Need help planning a day trip during your next stay at the Inn? We’re happy to help plan your scenic route!