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Quick help needed

Columbus, Ohio
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Quick help needed

We are 2/3 through our Spring Break and it has been a bust so far. We are headed to Sante Fe for 2 days before heading home. I am looking for something unique, scenic, nature in the area. Not too far a drive and not too much hiking. Will spend some time at the plaza but my 16 year old daughter has specifically asked for 'something pretty to look at'. I am of course looking myself but thought I would send this out. She loved the grand canyon and Sedona last year...any suggestions?

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Sedona
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Santa Fe, New Mexico
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for Santa Fe, Mesa Verde National Park, Boulder, New Mexico
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1. Re: Quick help needed

Not sure what "pretty" means to you. I find the entire area pretty in it's own way. Maybe Tent Rocks NM, Bandelier NM or Pecos NHP. Or a drive up towards the SF Ski area, still some snow up there. Possibly a drive up to Abiquiu to Ghost Ranch.

On a totally different side... Meow Wolf an immersive art experience.

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Meow Wolf
Meow Wolf
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Santa Fe, NM
Ohio
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2. Re: Quick help needed

I find the whole area pretty as well-

NM isn't like the canyon or Sedona, no red rocks, etc, but I personally love the different scenery.

I'd 2nd the idea of Tent Rocks.

I also really like the bit of Bandelier called Tsankawi. It's about a mile and 1/2 hike? Awesome views from there and great little cave dwellings.

Edited: 04 April 2018, 23:15
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Sedona
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Tsankawi
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Los Alamos, NM
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3. Re: Quick help needed

Tent Rocks is your ticket. The drive will take you across desert and then start climbing. When you get through Los Alamos/White Rock, it starts to really climb up to an elevation with more trees, some pretty rock formations, the Valles Caldera, etc.

Columbus, Ohio
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4. Re: Quick help needed

Thank you! I had crossed off Tent Rocks as it appeared to be a hike to get to see anything. Any estimates on length or difficulty of the hike? Daughter as scoliosis and husband has a bad hip so we are limited unfortunately.

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5. Re: Quick help needed

well, that changes things. "not too much hiking" to me means something different than to others perhaps. rats! Tent Rocks is going to require some hiking. It's not that much- I am thinking 1.5 miles each way? but it will require some ups and downs... I don't know how limited you are.

Hmm... rethinking- We are there typically in the fall so the ski area is awesome with yellow aspens. I think this time of year is not so pretty.

The Valles Caldera is pretty (IMO) and you can simple drive the road thru it. again- not sure how much grasses and things are there in the spring? There's a herd of elk and some old cabins. Don't need to hike to see things. Locals can perhaps let you know if it's pretty right now?

6. Re: Quick help needed

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Kalispell, Montana
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7. Re: Quick help needed

Tent Rocks is REALLY interesting to people who love and are intrigued by rare and unusual geologic formations...maybe not so much for others. Take a close look at the photos, especially those with people in them...they give a better idea of their size. The tents will actually tower above you as you walk through them. I too have some scoliosis which makes my back really act up at times. And a bad knee as well.

There is a "handicapped accessible" trail at Tent Rocks that takes off to the left from the parking lot and heads very gradually up and through some of the tents. Then you can keep going or simply turn around and take the same way back....it does not actually take a lot of time for the $$ you spend. If you are not intrigued by the formations, its a long drive out and back to SF through so-so scenery.

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The tents and other rock formations in New Mexico tend to chalky white or golden in color as opposed to the prevalent bright orange/reds of Sedona and Grand Canyon. There are some pinks in places, like out near the Ghost Ranch area near Abiquiu. The scenery is not as dramatically colorful in NM as it is in Sedona/GC and Utah Parks.

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New Mexico is more high desert with short scrub/mesquite/rabbit brush and unless you appreciate the vastness and exposed rocks and mesas between places, you may find it a bit more boring than the Sedona/GC area. Sedona and Grand Canyon are very tourist oriented right where they are. NM requires more driving between places which are not nearly as specifically touristy. It is a place to be appreciated on scenic drives.

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Pretty and interesting to us is the High Road out of Santa Fe to at least Truchas and back (37 miles one way)...or the High Road all the way to Taos and then back via the Low Road. If you go all the way to Taos, The Pueblo is closed right now but the drive is beautiful with various stops along it. No hiking needed at all.

A great map here: coloradodirectory.com/maps/highroadtaos.html

Drive up to Taos via the High Road and return via the Low Road. There is so much to see out there besides the Pueblo which I mentioned is now closed. Restaurants of note along the High Road are Rancho de Chimayo and Sugar Nymphs Bistro in Penasco. http://www.ranchodechimayo.com http://www.sugarnymphs.com

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The High Road is a designated scenic byway.

You take beautiful, fully paved back roads, through the scenic countryside, past the Santuario de Chimayo (a must see and very short walk...handicapped parking close up), It eventually climbs up to the village of Truchas which is perched along a narrow ridge. Then you pass through forest to Taos. Its a lovely drive. Lunch in Taos.

The Low Road is really the #68 that follows the Rio Grande River/Canyon back but it too is quite scenic. On the low road just south of Taos is Ranchos de Taos Plaza, with its famous adobe church made so famous by Ansel Adams in his photos and Georgia O'Keefe in her paintings. The combo is one of our favorite drives and we take it very often as a simple auto-tour day trip.

Great place to stop for a meal or snack on the way back from Taos is Gabriel's. You exit at the Buffalo Thunder Resort and take the east side frontage south for about a mile. It is located in an adobe compound and has both indoor dining rooms and a neat outdoor patio when its warm enough. https://www.gabrielsofsantafe.com

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Alternately...simply drive the Bishop's Lodge Road from near the Plaza to Tesuque. Its a narrow, scenic backroad. You could then connect with the freeway near Tesuque and drive north to Gabriel's/Buffalo Thunder for lunch. Then take the side drive from there after lunch to Bandelier National Monument. You are able to drive all the way down there now, whereas you have to take the shuttles from White Rock beginning Mid-May. Walk into the visitor's center there (handicapped parking nearby) and just out back along the flat trail up to the ruins and cliff dwellings. No need to climb ladders or scramble around ruins. Its a simple walk and not very long at all.

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The Valles Caldera has very limited access right now...the roads down in the Caldera will not open until May 15th. There could be still be snow so I would find out ahead of time before going at all. Elk are an attraction more in the Fall than in Spring. If there is snow, you will have to drive down to the small visitors cabin and then turn around. No need to hike, its just prettty up there.

If you know the Longmire TV series, Walt's Cabin is down there in the Caldera. Last time we visited early there was some snow and Caldera roads were closed . The Ranger had a telescope set up at the visitor's center so we could see Walt's cabin. https:/…conditions.htm

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8. Re: Quick help needed

No snow in Valles Caldera last time I looked, which was a few days ago. You should be fine going there. There are a couple of short trails from the visitor center that will give you a sense of the immensity of the place but are reasonable for those with reduced (although not completely zero) mobility. Elk are up there now, although of course there are no guarantees you will see them. Note that a controlled burn is being done in Valle San Antonio, in the "back" part of the preserve (not the valley you see from the highway), for fire-hazard mitigation, starting today and probably going a day or two longer. As ME says, that area is closed seasonally anyway. This shouldn't affect your visit unless you have smoke allergies; given the direction of prevailing winds, etc., the scenic impact should be negligible, although youneverknow.

"Pretty" is in the eye of the beholder and I can't predict what your daughter will find "pretty," which is why I didn't contribute to this thread earlier. The tent rocks at the eponymous monument should qualify, and the walk to the viewpoint for them is just that, a walk, not a hike of any significance (that's more for the slot canyon and beyond). Have you considered looking for "pretty" stuff in Santa Fe proper? St. Francis Cathedral should qualify, as should several other old churches, etc., in the downtown area.

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Hotel St. Francis
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9. Re: Quick help needed

There is a helpfull list citiesandplaces.com/good-places-to-go-on-hol…

Edited: 09 April 2018, 00:53
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