The first stop of our Epic Summer Road trip this year was in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Our planned route took us south this year (The ultimate destination is Key West, Florida).
Santa Fe is about a 6-hour drive (give or take) from where we live in Northern Colorado. We were originally planning on driving the entire way in 1 day, but we were itching to go so badly, we decided to leave a day early, drive to Pueblo, Colorado and then boondock at Cracker Barrel. We drove the rest of the way to Santa Fe the next day. Most of the homes and businesses in the area are adobe style with flat rooves and stucco exteriors. It’s pretty interesting!
We booked at the KOA many months in advance since we were there over Memorial Day weekend. A few things we learned about the KOA (more info in our video).
- There is no cell service unless you go near the cell phone hotspot by the office.
- The wi-fi doesn’t work very well.
- There is no pool at this campground.
- The staff is very friendly and helpful.
We drove by many other campgrounds while we stayed in the area – they all looked very similar in the fact that they were mostly in remote areas on the outskirts of town. We personally like staying at KOA’s when we can because we have a membership where we save 10% and then also earn points on our stays. We’ve been able to earn many free nights of camping by using our membership.
On the first day, we arrived around midday to early afternoon. We decided to head to the downtown area to check things out. There was live music in the plaza and lots of old churches to explore. We ate dinner at the Blue Corn Restaurant and then headed back to the KOA to get some rest. On our second day, we wanted to head back into the downtown/plaza area as there were many old churches that we didn’t get to see.
The St. Francis of Assisi Chapel, the Loretto Chapel, and the San Miguel Mission. The staircase at the Loretto chapel has a really cool story behind it and it defies the laws of engineering. If you go to Santa Fe, it’s a must-see!
Meow Wolf House of Eternal Return
We were planning on visiting Meow Wolf on our second day. We arrived to find out you need advance tickets. So, we jumped online and purchased tickets for later in the day, and headed back into the downtown/plaza area.
Meow Wolf was a super fun experience! If you go a few things to be aware of:
- You need to purchase tickets in advance – you can do this online on their website.
- There are many small spaces and low ceilings. Make sure you’re up for bending down and crawling when needed.
- I took my purse inside, but it was bothersome carrying it. I would have been better off grabbing my debit card, ID, etc, and putting it in my pockets. If we go again, I will NOT carry a purse or any type of bag.
- It can feel a little “creepy” – especially for younger kiddos. Our son had a hard time with a few different rooms (you’ll see in the video – he had a “moment” at one point because he was scared). If you have little ones, I would recommend maybe staying away from some of the rooms that have the “creepy” factor.
Overall, we loved it. A Meow Wolf is supposed to be opening up in Denver, Colorado soon (not too far from where we live) and we will definitely visit when it’s open.
Bandolier National Park
This was another MUST-SEE! It’s about a 45-minute drive outside of Santa Fe and you will need to take a shuttle to the visitor center. (The shuttle is free). We walked about a total of 3 miles to see the cave dwellings. You can actually enter many of the cave dwellings (they have ladders) and check them out.
One of the things that really stuck out for me was the pueblo dwellings (ruins). You can see the sense of community that these Indian tribes lived with. I am a firm believer in the importance of community and see a lack of real community in our culture. With things like social media, and smartphones, we’ve never been more “connected” yet totally “disconnected” in our society. There is something so important about living life with a “tribe” and being surrounded by a community. These ancient Indian tribes knew and realized the importance of community and lived nearly right on top of each other. And let me tell you – raising kids is much easier when you have a tribe and live in a community!
Jeeping/Off Road trails
This is where I must admit my propensity for safety is bothered. Maybe some of it stems from those times when as a kid my dad made his own roads in the woods – and we got stuck- more than once.
We found some forest roads that were fun for driving around and seeing the countryside. We *nearly* got lost; however, we ran into some locals who were able to direct us on how to get back to the main road. These roads were very easy as far as not even really need a Jeep – we even got passed by a Ford Mustang- so you can tell how “difficult” the roads really were not.
If you decided to hit some off-road trails, a few things to be aware of:
- Have a full tank of fuel – we went out with ½ tank and I had breathing difficulty when we got down to ¼ and didn’t know how to get back, LOL. Or take a gas can with some extra fuel also.
- Learn how to read forest service maps and download one. I have NO CLUE how to read a forest service map nor did we have constant cell service. I found a map but had no clue how to read it, what the numbers meant, etc.
Mountain Biking Trails
There are a lot of mountain biking trails in the area. Ben took a trail near the downtown area called Dale Ball Outer Limits and was able to ride the downhill path back into town when he was done. This trail area had several different trails with varying difficulty levels.
Santa Fe Food & Culture
There are Native Americans that set up at the Governor’s Palace to sell handmade items. We loved being able to support these local artisans. They draw numbers to be there, so just because one particular artist was there on a Monday, doesn’t mean they will be there the next day. There is a lot of GREAT food and restaurants. We wanted to eat at The Shed, but they were not open on Sundays.
Santa Fe was a lot of fun and I am really glad we added it to our list. We added the state of New Mexico to our map. To hear about Santa Fe from our daughter’s perspective, read below. Happy Trails!
Trinity’s point of view
First, stop Santa Fe!
I really loved Santa Fe, it is my favorite place besides beaches and Great Wolf Lodge, and of course my home. Other than those things it’s my favorite place. The KOA there was good. It had a cool park. It also had a game room well, more like a shed. I LOVED downtown. LOVED it. It was so cool and unique. It had a stucco texture on lots of the buildings. There was the Governs Palace it had real Indians and I got a real lapis necklace. And 3 beaded bracelets.
There was also Bandolier National park. I also loved that too. We hiked a long way to see the cave dwellings. It was not just cave dwellings there were also pueblos and kivas. Kivas are like Indian event centers. There is some other stuff that I loved too that are in the other paragraph like meow wolf and the jeeping trails. So see you in the video!! P.s if you have not visited Santa Fe you really should!! – Trinity