The Dog Days of August have arrived.
Summer is drawing to a close and kids will be going back to school very shortly, but there are still plenty of warm weekends in the near future, for a quick (preferably cool), getaway out-of-town, to explore the areas surrounding Taos.
1: Although Abiquiu has never been a major tourist destination, its small-town charm and stunning mountain views are an excellent choice for a quick, weekend getaway. The dramatic red rock cliffs in the area have served as the backdrop for numerous Hollywood films, and it was of course, home to Georgia O’Keeffe for decades, whose residence and studio are open for public tours. Ghost Ranch is close by also. In addition to hiking and exploring the mountains and canyons Abiquiu also boasts a large lake, where you can spend the day fishing, boating and swimming. You can get there by taking the road from Ojo Caliente, along a low-traffic, quiet highway, making it an easy day trip to one of the prettiest locations in Northern New Mexico.
2: Carlsbad is one of the perfect New Mexico weekend destinations due to its major attraction: Carlsbad Caverns National Park. The caverns are also an easy day trip, with both ranger-guided and self-guided tours available. Another popular activity is watching the bats depart from the caverns at sunset every night. The park has plenty of easy walking trails, although it can get very hot during the summer. Thankfully the caverns stay very cool and are accessible year-round, The town of Carlsbad is located on the Pecos River, which is a popular destination for boating and kayaking, a double plus in terms of cooling off!
3: Nestled in the gorgeous Sierra Blanca mountain range, this town is set amongst more than a million acres of forest and wilderness, with towering pines and lush mountain meadows. It’s conveniently located close to plenty of easy day trip activities. Whether you want to enjoy a leisurely hike in the Lincoln National Forest or experience an afternoon of horse racing at Ruidoso Downs, this town has something for everyone. Do visit the Hubbard Museum of the American West, with its collection of wagons, saddles, art and Native American artifacts, along with its larger than life eight-horse sculpture (Free Spirits at Noisy Water) outside. Ruidoso is located just about an hour and a half from the historic town of Lincoln, a very well-preserved, historic town best known as the home of Billy the Kid. Ruidoso is one of the major vacation destinations in the state, so there are plenty of good restaurants, charming boutiques, golf courses as well as live entertainment year round.
4: If you crave the sublime scenery of Ruidoso but prefer a less travelled location, head slightly south to Cloudcroft. This charming mountain town is located in the southern portion of the sprawling Lincoln National Forest, so there’s plenty of hiking and exploring to do. It’s situated at approximately 8,600 feet above sea level, which makes it one of the highest altitude towns in the United States, a good thing during the heat of August! Most of the restaurants and shops are located in the historic business district. Be sure to stop in at the Burro Street Exchange, a one-stop shop for a variety of stores, restaurants, and local information.
5: Silver City is a small, old-fashioned mining town that has plenty to do on a quick weekend getaway. Spend a day exploring the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, which is a National archaeological treasure, or hiking in the pristine Gila Wilderness. The City of Rocks State Park is also close by. History buffs will enjoy visiting Fort Bayard, a frontier-era fort that is preserved as a monument today, and Silver City’s old-fashioned downtown district blends historical buildings and sites with art galleries, restaurants, and boutiques. The town is small enough to get a taste of everything during a weekend, but large enough to keep everyone happily busy.
For more information on these towns and parks, please visit the sites linked below. I have included the NM Forest Service due to the fires this summer causing a few of our parks to close.
All images stock files