See the “other” Las Vegas, a historic stop on the Santa Fe Trail—and the railroad that replaced it—that now boasts one of the largest collections of Victorian-era buildings in the West. Self-guided walking tours reveal classic examples of elegant Queen Anne and Eastlake architecture.
Start your trip by going northeast on I-25 through Glorieta Pass, exiting at Pecos National Historical Park to see the ruins of the long-deserted Pecos Pueblo and a Spanish mission church. The Pecos Wilderness, north of here, beckons fly-fishermen with some of the best trout streams in the Rockies.
Leave I-25 again at Las Vegas, which became a boomtown after the U. S. annexed New Mexico in 1846. Besides its well-preserved period architecture, Las Vegas has a wide range of restaurants, antique stores, and other services. Its chamber of commerce provides tourist maps and answers questions about such attractions as the Rough Rider Museum, honoring the many local residents who followed Teddy Roosevelt into battle during the Spanish-American War.
Take NM 518 north to Storrie Lake, a reservoir that offers boating, fishing, swimming, picnicking, and windsurfing. Continue to La Cueva, site of an old mill and a French Gothic-style church. At the Salman Ranch here, you can pick your own raspberries in August and September. Farther north, past Mora, is the Cleveland Roller Mill Museum, a restored water-powered flour mill dating from the era in which this region was the breadbasket of New Mexico. A century later, the wheat is gone and some farmers now raise llamas and alpacas, selling clothes woven from their soft wool. NM 518 winds into tall mountains, which you cross before descending on NM 75 to Peñasco, where you join NM 76 (part of the High Road to Taos) for a scenic ride back, via US 84/285, to Santa Fe. This is about a 186-mile round trip.
Map of North Central New Mexico
#1: West on the Jemez Mountain Trail
#2: Northwest to Georgia O’Keeffe Country
#3: North to Taos
#5: South on the Turquoise Trail
Five Santa Fe Trips
Santa Fe, New Mexico