Road Trip - Arches National Park to Santa Fe
The trip between Arches National Park and Santa Fe isn't one of the longest trips you can take, but you should plan plenty of time to truly enjoy this route through sandstone, mountains, valleys, and desert beauty. Throughout the trip, every stop you make will offer some sort of recreational opportunity. Below are a few of the places you can make into destinations along the the road-trip.
Arches National Park
Arches National Park is one of Utah's most beautiful destinations. The park preserves many sandstone arches, created through millions of years of exposure to the elements. You should plan to stay for a few days in order to best enjoy the multitude of recreational opportunities and the beauty of all of the arches. If you want to explore Arches National Park in your car, there are many paved roads and viewpoints. If you want to get even closer to each of the most amazing arches in the park, get out your boots and hike along the desert trails. For an even better understanding of the park's features, take in one of the park's ranger-led programs. The Fiery Furnace Tours are especially popular.
Moab, Utah is a great destination for recreation enthusiasts. In Moab you can mountain bike on the popular Slickrock Trail. It is also a great spot to go white-water rafting on the Green or Colorado River. Moab also has great off-roading and rock-climbing. The town has much to offer its visitors as well, from fine dining to enjoying a spa day.
Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
Mesa Verde National Park is a great spot to stop, get out of your car, hike and enjoy some amazing archeological sites. This park celebrates the history of the Pueblo people in the southwestern United States. You will find over 4000 archeological sites at Mesa Verde, including the 600 cliff dwellings. Some of the best cliff dwellings, including Cliff Palace, Balcony House, and Long House, require the purchase of tickets for guided tours. The Mesa Top Loop Road is a great scenic drive in the park. You can also enjoy a wide range of amazing hikes some of which culminate in cliff dwelling overlooks.
Near Mesa Verde is the town of Mancos. Like most of Colorado, Mancos enjoys about 300 days of sun annually, making it a great spot for hiking, rock climbing, biking, and other outdoor pursuits. For those who enjoy fishing, the Jackson Gulch Reservoir is a good spot to stop. In winter, visitors can enjoy cross-country skiing or snowshoeing at the Chicken Creek cross-country Ski Area. Mancos is also a great spot to enjoy some of the unique art of the southwest.
San Juan National Forest
The San Juan National Forest is another great spot to enjoy a myriad of recreational activities. You can enjoy camping year round in the forest, although if you want to camp in the winter you may have to do a little extra research to find an open campsite. At the San Juan National Forest you will find plenty of trails, horseback riding opportunities, and hunting, among other recreational activities. The Chimney Rock Archeological Area is another great feature of the San Juan National Forest.
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Pagosa Springs is one of Colorado's amazing camping and recreating destinations. One of Pagosa Springs' best features is the hot springs. The water's high mineral content, which gives it the strong smell, is believed to have medicinal properties. Today you can enjoy the hot springs at one of the three resorts and spas. Pagosa Springs also has access to great skiing. The , one of the oldest ski resorts in Colorado. Colorado is known for its great powder and blazing sunshine; if you are looking for a great ski destination, Pagosa Springs is a great place to try.
Ohkay Owingeh, New Mexico
For those travelers who want to enjoy the beautiful art of the Pueblo Indians, Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo is an ideal place to stop along your road-trip. The town once known as San Juan Pueblo has a long and rich history. Now the headquarters for the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council, this is the location of the Oke-Oweenge Crafts Cooperative, an amazing pueblo art center. You can also enjoy fishing at the nearby San Juan Lakes, provided you get a permit in advance.
Los Alamos, New Mexico
Los Alamos, New Mexico is a little off the road between Arches National Park and Santa Fe, but it is well worth the detour. Like many of the places along the road, Los Alamos has an amazing array of recreational activities. Los Alamos is also an important location for scientific research. Visitors can stop at the Otowi Station Bookstore and Science Museum Shop or the Bradbury Science Museum. Los Alamos is also an important cultural center. Visitors can enjoy dance, theater, art and history.
Bandelier National Monument
This National Monument is another great spot to enjoy recreation and archeology. If you only have a short amount of time, you can take a nice short walk on the Main Loop Trail, which leads you from the Visitor Center through some archeological sites into the Frijoles Canyon. On the Main Loop Trail you can see Pueblo dwellings and petroglyphs along with other interesting archeological sites. Another great destination in Bandelier National Monument is the Alcove House.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
The beautiful city of Santa Fe is a fabulous place to end a road-trip. After all of the recreation along the way to Santa Fe, the city is a great spot to stop and enjoy some culture, art, and fine dining. The city has a large number of historic sites, including the San Miguel Mission, possibly the oldest church in the country. The Indian Market, held in August, is another great event in Santa Fe. Visitors can enjoy the artwork of over 1,200 artists. The market features all different types of Native American artwork. Many people return to the market every year to collect unique pieces of art from their favorite artists.