New Mexico Sight Seeing/Pre Scouting Trip?

djewell87

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Oct 10, 2019
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I am going to New Mexico with my wife for a conference and we are planning on flying in 3 or 4 days earlier for a last minute vacation. We plan on flying into Albuquerque renting a car and traveling around the state sight seeing mostly nature and wildlife plus stopping in towns to eat and such making a route that ends up back in Albuquerque. I've never hunted NM or spent any time there other than passing through on the way to Colorado, but I figured this would be a good time to see the state and check out some areas to get a better idea of where I'd like to put in for and come back and really scout in the future. Any recommendations on things to do or places that we should see that are in/or passing through areas with decent public hunting access are appreciated. I'm not looking for anyone's spots or anything like that, i just would like to see some areas in person before applying and to make a non hunting trip a little about hunting. Feel free to PM me any advice for this trip.

Thanks
 
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djewell87

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Oct 10, 2019
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Check out Valles Caldera. You'll probably never draw it but it's a great place to see massive herds of elk...
I'll add that to the list. We would love to see some wildlife and the mountains. I'm researching draw odds to try to make a plan for some stops. Thanks
 

Macintosh

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Feb 17, 2018
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Last year I quit my job and my wife and I spent a couple months traveling through west texas and new mexico. Aside from being a whole bucket of awesome, we put a serious hurt on the local taco population, we just dont get good mexican food in northern Vermont so food in general was a major highlight. We had pre-arranged to stay in santa fe for a couple weeks, santa fe was cool-ish but super touristy/arty and was not really my speed for that amount of time. We really enjoyed hiking around valle caldera and bandelier NP, they are very close so easy to combine. The Native American sites in that area are WAY cool even if they are a little "National Park-ish", I really enjoyed checking out a number of those. Hiking in Valle caldera was cool as well, and yes, we did get eyes on a herd of a gajillion elk. I had a blast just getting off trail and exploring on some of the forest service and blm land around there, did some shed hunting and just general exploring and looking at wildlife. We also really enjoyed the rio grande canyon up near taos, fishing was OK and the scenery was pretty cool. White sands NP was pretty wild, but not an area I would want to spend a lot of time in so swing in if you're on your way by heading to the Lincoln NF. It's a bit isolated but if you go through that area, Carlsbad caverns is cool, and hiking in guadalupe NP was really cool, we saw a ton of deer and critters there and really interesting terrain just doing some day hikes. And if you go way NW the san Juan is a gold medal trout river, I've had considerably better luck in other places but I did have more trout the size of my leg give me the finger there than I have most other places.
 
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RS_Non-Res

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May 1, 2021
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NM is big: Plan to minimize driving time for efficiency:
Far from ABQ: Carlsbad is 4:30 hrs (CCNP is a world-class hole in the ground), White Sands NP is 3:30, San Juan fishing is 3:00 hrs.
Closer to ABQ: VCNP is 1:40, Bandelier is 1:50, RG Gorge bridge at Taos is 2:30, Tent Rocks is <1:00 hr

ABQ is a medium sized city (way better than Pueblo CO, just stay off the public transportation) with plenty of great food and microbrews. Santa Fe (movie stars) and Taos (Kit Carson!) are smaller and also have great food and history. Online reviews are generally reputable. For inside stuff the kids loved the Natural History Museum and I found the nearby Art and History Museum very informative. The Mrs. might be interested in "Flamenco + Albuquerque". See also... https://www.rokslide.com/forums/threads/new-mexico-vacation-ideas.218571/
 

butcherboy

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Jul 20, 2014
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Kirtland, NM
Despite what people say, I’ve enjoyed living here for most of my life. I really like northern NM the most. Rio Grande gorge is awesome. The history of the towns and culture is pretty cool. I’ve fished the San Juan for many years. Valles Caldera is incredible and so is Valle Vidal. Riding the train in Chama is a lot of fun. I actually like taking the bus from Chama to Antonito, CO then ride the train back to Chama stopping in Osher for lunch. Definitely enjoy the food and learn the difference between red, green, or Christmas!
 

Brooks

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Mar 19, 2019
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New Mexico
If you value your vehicle do not leave it parked in ABQ if there is anything of value in it !! If you’re pulling a trailer they love them too. Car stealing capital of America.
 

ZDR

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Apr 20, 2013
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If you check out the Valles Caldera, Los Alamos is not far and the science museum is worth a visit. The cold war history in Los Alamos is fascinating.
 

Seth

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Jun 15, 2020
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For a neat day drive through lots of cool country and along borders of several units, drop South to Socorro, west to Datil and Pietown, and then to Quemado and north to Grants. It will give you a good perspective on variety of terrain available. Even a day drive to Grants where you can drive up Mt Taylor and take a quick hike to the summit in the morning, then loop through the Zuni’s south of town would be informative. A lot to see in this area with several national monuments as well as public lands.
 

Doghed

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The Land of Enchantment
When will you be here?

The Hatch Chile Festival is the first weekend in September. From there the Gila isn't far.

The Balloon Fiesta is the first week in October. Its a really cool event but it gets crazy here.

As far as visiting the backcountry it will depend on when you're here and what roads you're willing to drive.
 
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Sccritterkiller

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If you're near Taos, check out the Rio Grande Gorge and glass the sides of the canyon for herds of Big Horn Sheep.
Better yet take the road thru the gorge, 570 IIC, Rio Grande El Norte national monument..you will see all kinds of sheep and its a cool drive. Then stop at the diner in Ojo Caliente get the huevos rancheros with red sauce on your way to Lake Abiqu and Echo Canyon and Monastery of Christ in the desert, great drive thru the NF along the Chama to the monastery..1st sheep I ever saw in the wild was in the Carson NF and then he ran across 84 into the Sante Fe NF. The food and sunsets are amazing enjoy! Almost forgot try some Santa Fe brewing 7K IPA.
 

Mojave Kid

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Mar 31, 2022
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In the winter, on the road to Red River (from Taos) you will see BigHorn Sheep licking salt off the middle of the road. I have also seen cow elk crossing the road right before you start on the down hill road to Bandoleer Cliff dwellings. I would also echo Sccritterkiller: you can find the best Huevos Rancheros in the world at different NM haunts.
 

Fitzwho

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Midland, TX
I would stay further north just to save yourself some time. But if you do go down to White Sands, swing by the Three Rivers Petroglyph site, eat lunch in Capitan and if it’s of interest drive a few more miles for some Wild West history (Billy the Kid, etc) in Lincoln.
 
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djewell87

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Oct 10, 2019
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Thank y'all for the for all the advice. I really appreciate it.
 
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djewell87

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Oct 10, 2019
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When will you be here?

The Hatch Chile Festival is the first weekend in September. From there the Gila isn't far.

The Balloon Fiesta is the first week in October. Its a really cool event but it gets crazy here.

As far as visiting the backcountry it will depend on when you're here and what roads you're willing to drive.
We are flying in the Sunday of the festival. Do you think it would be worth rescheduling flights to come that Saturday to see it?
 

DmrbigEshotT

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Feb 9, 2015
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SE Michigan
Valles Caldera is great and one of my favorite places on earth. Taos was a cool town and if you know any Kit Carson history, it’s a must-see. Carlsbad Cavern was very cool as well.


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