Santa Fe New Mexico Spring Travel Idea: Day Trip from Santa to Albuquerque via Turquoise Trail

Turquoise Trail Sculpture garden on NM 14

Turquoise Trail – Santa Fe to Albuquerque Sunport in half a day or so (depends upon the amount of time you want to spend!).
Head South from Santa Fe on NM 14 toward the village of Cerrillos. On your journey down the Turquoise Trail (aka NM14)- deemed a National Scenic ByWay- you’ll enjoy the serenity of beautiful New Mexico nature. Just before Cerrillos, NM, off to the left, you’ll see a 3 acre sculpture garden in the middle of nowhere with huge origami sculptures–though very odd in way–really beautiful. The Turquoise Trail Sculpture Garden is a private residence nestled in what is now called the Little Garden of the Gods on Highway 14. Towering rock formations encompass the sculpture garden, as visitors meander through the distinct southwest landscapes which create a dramatic backdrop for this exhibition. Kevin Block (artists) contracts the relationship between white clouds and the predominately white artwork to evoke a sense of lightness and peace. A fun stop on this Santa Fe Spring Travel day trip from Santa Fe. This exhibit runs May-October (visit their website for more information). Climb back into your car as you’re just a short distance from Cerrillos. Cerrillos, NM is an interesting little stop (or drive thru) which consist of 59 family units per 2000 census and a total land mass of 1.4 sq. miles. Its appearance is more of an abandoned movie set (though the movie “Young Guns” filmed in this area- it’s not abandoned) and offers visitors the opportunity to stop at the Mine Museum and petting zoo. More recently, buildings within this sleepy community have received plaques with historic information to document and provide visitors with understanding as to the significance this old west mining town played in US history. Continue down the Turquoise Trail (NM 14) toward Madrid, NM enjoying the winding paved scenic byway and natural beauty accentuated by the pristine blue skies of New Mexico. Madrid is always a fun place to stop for a visit and compliments Cerrillos, NM well as Madrid is nestled in the Ortiz Mountains within a narrow canyon. Madrid was once a booming coal mining town founded in 1895 by the Cerrillos Coal Mining Companies. When demand for coal withered around 1954, natural gas gradually replaced coal and the Cerrillos Coal mines ceased to operate leaving residents in need of new employment. Most residents moved away creating a ghost town for several years.

Madrid NM Mine Shaft Tavern & Museum

Madrid was rediscovered in the early 1980’s when many east coast artists transplants to New Mexico discovered this sleepy little town and found land prices to be a steal! Madrid, NM is now a creative community with over 40 shops and galleries, several restaurants, a spa and museum. We love a stop off for an afternoon bite at the Mine Shaft Tavern and Museum- great green chile cheeseburgers! As you continue down the Turquoise trail, you’ll find Golden just before connecting to I-40. In 1825, Golden, NM was the site of the first gold rush west of the Mississippi, before the California and Colorado gold rushes. Originally called Real de San Francisco, around 1880 several large mining companies moved in and changed the name to Golden.

Golden NM Trading Post

Why Just Stay in historic Santa Fe? Experience it at Pueblo Bonito Inn!

The yield was disappointing and the population dwindled. Mining is all but gone from the area, but Golden survives as an active rural community today. Next on the Turquoise Trail as you travel north you’ll see the Sandia Mountains and Cibola National Forest, a scenic and recreational paradise full of outdoor activities including bicycling, hiking, horseback riding, climbing and skiing. This beautiful area is home to a diverse collection of animals and plants; and birdwatchers come from around the world to witness the hawk and eagle migrations. From mid November through March three species of Rosy Finch call Sandia Crest home, making the area an ideal destination for bird-watchers. Just outside the community of Sandia Park, along the Sandia Crest National Scenic Byway, you’ll find Tinkertown Museum, a collection of one man’s life work that includes a hand carved animated miniature western town and a three-ring circus. Follow the Byway also called the “Crest Road”, through the beautiful Cibola National Forest. During the drive, you’ll see incredible vistas and pass through five different life zones. The next stop is Cedar Crest, home to the Museum of Archaeology & Material Culture, where you can explore the story of North America’s earliest inhabitants. These mountains also boast an archaeological continuum of human activities from the end of the last Ice Age through the present. Tijeras is the exit from the Turquoise Trail and the bustling mountain communities along its path now join I-40 toward Albuquerque. Two canyons come together here and the area was first inhabited by pueblo Indians. Stop here at the Cibola National Forest office for information and brochures and visit the Tijeras Pueblo Archaeological Site. I-40 will take you west toward Albuquerque which will intersect with I-25 which takes you to the Albuquerque Sunport. This is a great alternative route to taking I-25 straight from Santa Fe to Albuquerque on a return home travel day. Folks with later in the day flights out of the Albuquerque Sunport might appreciate this route. Regardless the route, we sincerely appreciate the time you took touring and visiting Santa Fe, New Mexico and Pueblo Bonito bed and breakfast inn. We hope you enjoyed your time with us and appreciated our 156+ yr old historic adobe pueblo style accommodations located in a quiet prime downtown location- walk to restaurants, shops, galleries, historic sites and more from our front door step!! We invite Santa Fe travelers to give us a call when preparing your next visit to historic Santa Fe, NM! 1-800-461-4599