16 Must-See Day Trip Spots From Albuquerque

Located in the state of New Mexico, Albuquerque is centrally located and within reach of many destinations that make for perfect day trips from the city. 

Albuquerque itself is widely recognized as the center of culture and art which is full of museums and history. 

New Mexico Area is the historic homeland of many Native American Tribes which makes it rich in ancient historic and cultural attractions like Bandelier National Monument, Petroglyph National Monument. 

Let us have a look at some of the best day trips you can take from the lovely city of Albuquerque.

16 Vacation Spots in New Mexico

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe

This former Spanish colony is steeped in history and makes for a wonderful day trip from Albuquerque. 

Located just an hour away from the city via the scenic Turquoise Trail (State Highway 14), this vibrant and colorful city deserves a visit. 

A paradise for art lovers, they can spend a few hours at the world-class art museums which include the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, the Center for Contemporary Arts and the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art

After that, you can spend some time getting to know the history of Santa Fe via guided tours that take place here. 

End your day by shopping at a large variety of boutiques and have dinner at Pantry Restaurant which serves some lovely New Mexican cuisine.

Distance from the city: 60 mins

Ideal for: Art lovers and history aficionados

Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico

Acoma Pueblo

Situated just 70 minutes away from Albuquerque, Acoma Pueblo is the oldest continuously-inhabited settlement in North America and makes for an excellent day trip.  

The drive from Alburquerque itself is a journey worth remembering. It will take you through magnificent vistas and breathtaking rock formations.

Sitting atop a nearly 400-foot tall mesa in the middle of the desert, Acoma Pueblo is a fascinating historic town. You can take guided tours through the city to learn more about this amazing city. 

You can admire the work of locals and their famous pottery at Sky City Cultural Center or the Haak’u Museum

Distance from the city: 70 mins

Ideal for: History aficionados

Taos, New Mexico

Taos

Also named as one of the World’s Prettiest Mountain Towns, Taos is located approximately two hours and twenty minutes from Albuquerque.

This scenic town is a perfect family-friendly town and has lots to offer to everyone. 

You can spend your day touring the historic sites of San Francisco de Asis Church and the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge.

You can also end your day with one of their guided wine tours, history tours, food tours, walking tours, and trolley tours.

Children can have fun fishing, rafting or at chairlift rides.

Distance from the city: 140 mins

Ideal for: family-fun

Jemez Springs, New Mexico

Jemez Springs

Situated just a scenic 70-minute drive away from Alburquerque, the little town of Jemez Springs will make you feel as if you have stepped back in time into the Wild West.

This town is surrounded by red rock formations and dusty grasslands which are reminiscent of some of the world’s favorite Westerns.

An ideal day trip, many visitors come here to enjoy the thermal spring after which this town is named. You can opt for a proper bathhouse to enjoy these or just enjoy them in a completely natural environment which you can access along your hiking route.

Jemez springs have long been a destination for spiritual retreats, thanks to its natural wonders and relaxing atmosphere. 

Distance from the city: 70 mins

Ideal for: Adventure seekers

Cumbres-Toltec Scenic Railway

Cumbres-Toltec

Hop onboard one of the most scenic and historic rides at the Cumbres-Toltec Scenic Railway which follows a steep and dramatic route along the New Mexico/Colorado border between Chama New Mexico and Antonito in Colorado.

Visitors feel as if they have stepped back in time as they board the steam locomotive and enjoy the plush interiors coupled with dramatic views outside.

This by far makes for one of the best day trips from Alburquerque.

The trains leave daily from both the cities meeting approximately half-way at Osier where you will enjoy a delicious buffet lunch. While returning, you will be taken to your entry point in this luxury coach. 

 Drive time from Albuquerque to Chama or Antonito is about three and a half hours, so you will need to make an early start.

Distance from the city: 210 mins

Ideal for: Train lovers

Salinas Pueblo Missions, Mountainair

Salinas Pueblo Missions

This family fun destination, Salinas Pueblo Missions is approximately 75 minutes from central Albuquerque.

The building here is a part of the fascinating story of Franciscan missionaries that visited the Native American communities that once thrived there.

The main monument safeguards the ruins of three separate Spanish missions which were established in the early 1600s.

If you call the central Ranger Station in advance then you can book your own ranger-led tour. There is even an educational ranger program for the kids.

Distance from the city: 75 mins

Ideal for: History lovers

Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos

Bandelier National Monument

This lovely Bandelier National Monument will give day-trippers from Alburquerque a chance to explore the ancient dwellings of Ancestral Pueblo people.

Located around two hours away from Alburquerque, this National Monument boasts of some of the most scenic and dramatic landscapes in the country. 

Here you will be able to see how the Ancestral Pueblo people carved their homes out of sandstone and planted crops on the arid mesa tops around nine hundred years ago. 

After touring the Bandelier national monument, you can try your hand at boating, hiking or even picnicking. There are plenty of hiking trails in the area as well.

Distance from the city: 75 mins

Ideal for: Adventure seekers & family-friendly trip

Madrid, New Mexico

Madrid

This quaint village of Madrid in New Mexico is nestled in a narrow canyon in the Ortiz Mountains. Located just an hour north of Albuquerque, this was once a historic coal mining town. 

Now it has reinvented itself and become a thriving tourist town which offers a range of outdoor activities and lots of shops and restaurants as well. 

Particularly known for its thriving art scene, you can spend your day visiting the many galleries and art studios.

Don’t forget to visit The Mine Shaft Tavern & Cantina, which is the longest stand-up bar in New Mexico. 

The Java Junction Coffee Shop and Kitchen Goods have some great artisanal goods and you can have a nice cuppa here as well.

Distance from the city: 52 mins

Ideal for: Laidback day trip

Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico

Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge

Located just ninety minutes away from Alburquerque, the Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge is home to the nation’s most breathtaking phenomena.

Since 1939, the wildlife refuge has been attracting migrating waterfowl every year. Thousands of sandhill cranes, geese, and other waterfowl make their way to the refuge for the winter months.

This phenomenon attracts thousands of bird-watchers and tourists every year, making the Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge an excellent day trip destination from Alburquerque.

The refuge is open all year round and offers excellent opportunities to explore wildlife and birds. 

If you are not visiting the refuge during the winter months, you can take advantage of the wonderful hiking trails and even an eleven-mile gravel cycle trail. 

You can also enjoy photography, fishing, and hunting.

Distance from the city: 90 mins

Ideal for: Bird-watchers & wildlife enthusiasts

Valles Caldera National Preserve, New Mexico

Valles Caldera

One of the most beautiful day-trips from Alburquerque, the Valles Caldera National Preserve is the volcanic caldera that forms over 900,000 acres of stunning countryside.

Located 75 minutes away from the city, the preserve is a wonderful place for families to spend time together outdoors.

You can enjoy various activities like walking, hiking, fishing, and wildlife-watching.

For the adrenalin-seekers, you can also try fly-fishing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing when there’s snowfall.

For some family-fun, you can also sign up for a guided tour or ranger-led tour around the preserve. 

Distance from the city: 70 mins

Ideal for: Wildlife enthusiasts

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

Carlsbad Caverns

These are an amazing network of around 100 caves that lie hidden under the surface of Chihuahuan Desert.

 Located four hours away from the city of Alburquerque, these limestone caves are an absolute spectacle to watch, which makes Carlsbad Caverns National Park a great getaway.

You can either explore the caves on your own or join a ranger-guided tour. Families can also try bat tours.

Distance from the city: 240 mins

Ideal for: Adventure enthusiasts

El Malpais National Conservation Area, New Mexico

El Malpais National Conservation

Located 80 miles away from Alburquerque, the El Malpais is a must-see destination for day-trippers from the city. 

This was once the scene of a volcanic eruption that left a vast expanse of black volcanic rock covering a huge area of land. El Malpais is a starkly beautiful and fascinating place to explore.

Stop by at the Ranger Station, to get information about the current weather conditions and the possibility of hiking around the area. Visitors can also indulge in wildlife watching, walking, cave exploring and much more. 

Distance from the city: 100 mins

Ideal for: Adventure enthusiasts

Kasha Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, New Mexico

Kasha Katuwe Tent Rocks

This geological wonder should definitely be on your list of day trips from Alburquerque. These are the most unique rock formations in the country and you can reach Kasha Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument in just an hour.

These rock formations look like tents and tipis. These unique cone-like rock formations were caused by dramatic volcanic eruptions several million years ago. 

The best way to enjoy the scenery is by foot. Set off to explore the  Cave Loop Trail (easy) or the Canyon Trail (challenging and steep).

Don’t miss the sunset here, where the conical rock formations cause unique shadows across the land.

Distance from the city: 60 mins

Ideal for: Hiking enthusiasts

Petroglyph National Monument, New Mexico

Petroglyph National Monument

Just twenty minutes away from the town of Alburquerque, Petroglyph National Monument makes for an excellent day trip.

This National Monument gives the visitors a sneak peek into the life and culture of early tribes. Petroglyph National Monument can be fascinating for people who are into archaeology or history. 

The symbols on the cave that carved on the volcanic rocks are more than 600 to 700 years old.

The trail to exploring the caves will lead you to the Boca Negra Canyon, where there are up to 100 primitive petroglyphs to view. 

Distance from the city: 20 mins

Ideal for: History lovers

Very Large Array, New Mexico

Very Large Array

One of the world’s premier astronomical observations is the Very Large Array.

Situated just over two hours away from Alburquerque, the array contains 27 radio antennas that have been responsible for shedding light on groundbreaking celestial activity.

Learn more about radio astronomy at the Visitor Centre where you can watch a film narrated by Jodi Foster. You can spend your time walking around the exhibits that explain the process. After which you can take a self-guided tour to the base of a dish. 

Distance from the city: 120 mins

Ideal for: Astronomy enthusiasts

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

White Sands National Park

This mesmerizing, ever-shifting While Sands National Monument definitely deserves a visit for people living in Albuquerque.

This area is known for its dramatic white-sand gypsum sand dunes. Visitors can go on a lot of trails like  Interdune Boardwalk and the Dune Life Nature Trail. 

This is known to be one of the most beautiful vistas in the state and is certainly not worth missing. 

Pack plenty of water and sunscreen when visiting this sandy destination. 

Distance from the city: 210 mins

Ideal for: Adventure enthusiasts

Conclusion

Alburquerque is undoubtedly at the center of so many destinations and cities, that there is no dearth of day-tripping places from the city. 

Explore the dramatic cone-like formations at Kasha Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument or explore the urban and quaint cities of Santa Fe – the opportunities are endless. 

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