Driving the Turquoise Trail

Turquoise TrailTraveling from Albuquerque to Santa Fe you can be a really boring person and take I-25 north, or you can meander up the historically significant Turquoise Trail (NM 14). The trail is a designated National Scenic Byway comprised of 50+ miles (more if you veer off at the south end to drive the Sandia Crest Scenic Byway). A few of the points I thought were interesting:

Sandia Crest Scenic Byway: My first taste of mountains in a while. A short drive that climbs 4,000 feet above Albuquerque, and worth it if only for a break from the desert. I’d never been so thrilled to see trees.

A view from Sandia Crest Scenic Byway

An eastward view from Sandia Crest Scenic Byway

Golden, New Mexico: Ten miles north of the Sandia Crest turnoff is Golden, a ghost town devoid of tourists. Golden was the first gold rush area west of the Mississippi River (take that, California).

Golden, New Mexico's "visitor center"

Golden, New Mexico’s “visitor center”

The San Francisco Catholic Church in Golden, built in 1830.

The San Francisco Catholic Church in Golden, built in 1830.

Madrid, New Mexico: The most touristy town along the trail, Madrid is your typical mining-town-turned-artist-colony (like Jerome, Arizona). It was a booming mining town until coal use declined, then became a ghost town until the 1970s when artists arrived and turned its historic buildings into colorful galleries, studios, cafes and more.

Madrid, New MexicoMadrid, New Mexico

Explore more of New Mexico’s Turquoise Trail here.

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