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Turquoise Trail

Road Trip

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330.7 miles: 7 hours, 30 minutes
New Mexico’s Turquoise Trail is an alternate way to get from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, and if you’re not in a particular hurry it’s a delightfully scenic drive. Similarly, between Santa Fe and Taos you have two route choices, and we highly recommend the High Road to Taos, an even more spectacular drive through rugged, starkly beautiful high desert country.
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AAA/Inspector 76
Albuquerque to Santa Fe
72.5 miles: 1 hours, 46 minutes
I-40 winds past tan-colored, sagebrush-speckled ridges; SR 14, the Turquoise Trail, runs through pine-forested mountains. Farther on are rolling hills dotted with cactus under huge blue skies. In the midst of this austere, arid landscape the mining settlement turned ghost town turned eccentric artistic community of Madrid (MA-drid) materializes like a funky mirage.
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Wikimedia Commons/William Aranda
Santa Fe to Taos
88.8 miles: 2 hours, 16 minutes
Watch for the signed High Road turnoff on US 285. The road begins to climb almost immediately, passing green meadows before heading into the lofty, stunningly austere Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Take the side turnoff to El Santuario de Chimayó, an old adobe chapel tucked into a verdant river valley. Closer to Taos pine-forested ridges replace high desert arroyos.
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Taos to Espanola
46.2 miles: 1 hours, 2 minutes
Before heading out, drive to the Río Grande Gorge Bridge for a dizzying view of the incredibly deep, dramatically steep-walled Río Grande Gorge, with the ribbon-like Río Grande far below. The river is popular with canoeists and kayakers and is ideal for non-whitewater rafting. Back on the road, SR 68 cuts a swath through impressively scenic high-desert country.
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Wikimedia Commons/russavia
Espanola to Albuquerque
123.2 miles: 2 hours, 25 minutes
Take a side trip to Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, named for unusual rock formations resembling tepees, traffic cones and even swirls of soft-serve ice cream. The hike to the top of a mesa is strenuous, but the 360-degree views are incredible. Back in Albuquerque, celebrate your adventure at a popular restaurant that specializes in New Mexican cuisine.