Uncovering What Northern New Mexico Has To Offer

While staying with my brother and sister-in-law in Santa Fe, we did some exploring north. I never expected what we found!

Los Alamos

The place where the U.S. developed the first atomic bomb.

I had 0 expectations of Los Alamos, frankly, I’ve never heard of it. I passed through on my way to Santa Fe National Forest. However, I was surprised by what I learned! I dropped by the the Bradbury Science Museum which explained all about the development of the atomic bomb technology and the history behind it. A must visit!

Chaco Culture National Historic Park

Chaco who?

There’s a National Historic Park in the middle of nowhere northern New Mexico! It turned out to be a great visit. There’s tons of history and culture I learned about the people that lived there over 1000 years ago and the particular lives they led. These round rooms, called “Kivas,” were built everywhere, typically used for things like celebrations.

We hiked over 15 miles in the 2 days we were there! Our main big hikes were the Pueblo Alto (north/northeast) and the Peñasco Blanco (northwest) trails.

And the sights were beautiful!

Chaco Culture Recommended Entrance

A note if you visit: There are 2 entrances to the park, from the north (via 550, south of Nageezi) and from the south (via 371, south of White Rock). Both roads are not paved, but it’s recommended to come from the north. We came from the north and heard the south road was virtually impassable without 4×4.

From the north, the entrance is about 21 mi from highway 550. It’ll start out with about 9 mi of paved road, then transition to about 12 mi of unpaved gravel. There’s a lot of washboarding so be ready for some bumps 🙂 Then, the road transitions to about 4 mi of rough, unpaved road.

My recommendation would be to just take it slow for the rough section. If it’s dry, you shouldn’t need 4×4 or even high clearance. When we visited we made it fine in a front wheel drive Hyuandi Elantra with no issues. That said, it is VERY bumpy with ruts and some rocks sticking out. You also cross a riverbed (dried when we went). We overheard the ranger warn that if it starts to rain heavily (more than the typical afternoon shower that soaks into the ground in an hour or two), the road can become very slippery, muddy, dangerous, and that you should be prepared to be out there for potentially hours.

All that said, it’s totally worth the drive.

Bisti Badlands Wilderness

Okay this place is crazy cool… like out-of-this-world cool. It’s hard to describe in words, so here are some pictures:

I believe you call these weird rock formations “hoodoos.” Who knew? 😀

We put in another 5.5 miles easily just wandering around and I don’t think we even scratched the surface of this place.

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