14 Day Trips From Santa Fe For Spanish Outdoor Excursions

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Santa Fe is a cultural hotbed of activities, outdoor excursions, and Spanish life. Few cities in America portray the fascinating remnants of Spanish colonial life than the city of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Located close to the Mexican border, the city has lots to offer from classic American art to Indian cultural centers and even authentic ranchos. Plus the city makes for a great starting point for day trips.

Let us explore some of the best day trips from Santa Fe which you can take.

High Road To Taos, New Mexico

High Road To Taos

If a road trip is on your mind, then the road to Taos should definitely be on your list. This winding road which goes through some of the most stunning geographical sights and cultural attractions makes for a great day trip from Santa Fe.

The High Road takes you through El Santuario, in the Spanish village of Chimayo — a small adobe chapel where people gather for mass and scoop up “Holy Dirt” with magic healing properties.

Other sites which you will win through are small towns like Truchas or Córdova which you can always stop to explore. 

Winding through the route is meditative, to say the least as you will go through high-desert badlands and pine-covered mountains that dominate the horizon and leave the urban jungle behind you.

Distance: 54 minutes 

Ideal for: Road trips

Ghost Ranch, New Mexico

Ghost Ranch

Ghost Ranch is an education and  Retreat Center that is located a mere hour from Santa Fe. The center was made famous by Georgia O’Keeffe, who lived in Abiquiu for many years and painted almost every formation with her unique style.

If you want to visit rural vistas in New Mexico, then this can be the perfect retreat for you. The center also provides endless tours and experiences, from horseback riding through the jaw-dropping scenery to walking infamous artist Georgia O’Keefe’s footsteps.

Distance: 1 hour and 7 minutes

Ideal for: Retreat

Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, New Mexico

Rio Grande Bridge

Located 10 miles north of Taos, is the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. It provides for one of the most stunning views in New Mexico.

The bridge will give you vertigo and the photos you click here will make you feel like you majored in photography. The bridge is 565 feet above the river, the span is over 600 feet long.

You will also have a fantastic view of Wheeler Peak which is the highest mountain in New Mexico.

Distance: 1 hour and 28 minutes

Ideal for: Photography

Madrid, New Mexico


This quaint gorgeous artists enclave, Madrid makes for a great day trip from Santa Fe. The town is known to have more artists per capita than any town in the whole nation.

Earlier this town was a ghost town but not anymore. Here you will find brightly painted houses backdropped by the breathtaking Ortiz Mountains. 

Explore the huge number of galleries and artisanal stalls that line the streets and are impossible not to pay attention to. Stop by to have a coffee at the Java Junction and just relax and take in the charming vibe of this town.

Distance: 37 minutes

Ideal for: Art lovers 

Turquoise Trail, New Mexico

Turquoise Trail

Turquoise Trail is the national scenic byway that links Albuquerque and Santa Fe. You can drive from Santa Fe to Albuquerque, avoid the interstate and take this well-beaten path instead.

The landscape is absolutely beautiful and you will be rewarded with majestic vistas of the Sandia mountains, rolling hills, and natural formations of Central New Mexico.

The drive here is a day trip in itself and it will make you feel as if you have left civilization behind and come on a soul trip.

Distance: 5 minutes

Ideal for: Road trips

Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico

Bandelier National Monument

Bandelier National Monument is an hour away from Santa Fe and is a striking example of an impressive collision of natural majesty and ancient living practices. The national monument makes for a great day trip from Santa Fe.

There are craggy sandstone cliffs and walls surrounded by pine-dotted hills. Of course, there are excellent hiking trails if you want to spend your day burning some calories.

Head to the visitors center where you can learn more about the Bandelier National Monument. 

Distance: 52 minutes

Ideal for: Outdoor lovers

Taos, New Mexico


Anchored in heritage, the city of Taos is best known for Taos Pueblo. This is the longest inhabited living arrangement in the US. 

In fact, ten families still live there which have around 150 native people who work there to maintain the culture and heritage of the place. Taos Pueblo is a living artifact and makes for a truly unique travel experience and day trip from Santa Fe.

The inhabitants of this area have maintained their lifestyle through wars, disease, cultural genocide and environmental impact to survive. 

Distance: 1 hour and 24 minutes

Ideal for: History lovers

Sandia Peak Tramway, New Mexico

Sandia Tramway

Admire the beautiful Sandia mountains from Sandia Peak Tramway which are the highest aerial tramway in the USA. When you reach the top you can on a clear day, take in eleven thousand square miles–almost one-tenth of the state! 

The Sandia Peak Tramway is a 15-minute tram ride that transports you from the hot desert environment at ground level to the significantly cooler alpine surroundings at the summit of the Sandia Mountains.

The views from the tramway are unparalleled and Sandia Peak Tramway makes for a great day trip.

Distance: 1 hour 

Ideal for: Fun getaway

Black Mesa, New Mexico

Black Mesa

The landscape of Black Mesa is dramatic and Black Mesa is a sacred mountain that is part of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

The area offers excellent hiking opportunities and houses a particularly interesting attraction. Another tourist attraction is privately owned Capilla de la Familia Sagrada chapel.

Distance: 5 minutes

Ideal for: Nature lovers

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

white sands

Located just outside Alamogordo, New Mexico, it is far from the shores of  Caribbean beaches. White Sands National Monument is one of the most beautiful places to watch a sunrise or sunset in the U.S.

The combination of a desert sky and white sand makes for the most striking images and photos. If you are there alone, then it feels like it’s your very own monument which makes the experience personal.

Distance: 3 hours and 47 minutes

Ideal for: Photography

The Very Large Array, New Mexico

Very Large Array

Located amongst the vast Plains of San Agustin, the Very Large Array is a location where there are satellite dishes whose sheer size and presence are impressive.

The Very Large Array was also featured in the 1997 Jodie Foster film, Contact (based on the Carl Sagan book). 

These massive dishes are arranged in a rotating pattern and form the largest radio telescope in the world looking for complex solar system life. The advancements which have come from here have been truly revolutionary.

Distance: 3 hours 

Ideal for: Family getaway

Ojo Caliente Springs, New Mexico

Ojo Caliente

Located just a short hour’s drive from Santa Fe, Ojo Caliente Springs attracts everyone from intrepid travelers to holistic wellness seekers over the centuries. It is known to be one of the best healing retreats which are close to Santa Fe.

They offer everything from hiking around the gorgeous surroundings to numerous tailored treatments in the mineral-rich natural springs themselves.

You can also stay here for a night at this wonderful holistic retreat.

Distance: 1 hour

Ideal for: Spa 

Valles Caldera National Preserve, New Mexico

Valles Caldera

Valles Caldera National Preserve makes for a perfect escape from the city. There are a million acres of untouched wilderness and it is a haven for hikers, skiers, fishing enthusiasts, and visitors looking to get back to nature.

The pine-studded mountains and grassy meadows are beautiful and you can take many hikes around the area. The area was formed inside a volcanic caldera and it is a vast expanse of land which houses the gorgeous Jemez Mountains.

Distance: 1 hour and 5 minutes

Ideal for: nature lovers

White Mesa, New Mexico

White Mesa

White Mesa is a destination for thrill-seekers and hikers and makes for a great day trip from Santa Fe. White Mesa is actually gypsum that forms the white surface of much of the route and makes for a great treat for adventurous mountain bikers.

There are panoramic views from the top of the mesa which can be quite mesmerizing. Plus, this area is also famous for numerous paleontological discoveries and you can still spot fossilized bones there today.

Distance: 1 hour and 14 minutes

Ideal for: nature lovers


Santa Fe makes for the most fantastic jumping-off point from where you can explore beautiful natural areas like Black Mesa and White Mesa. Plus, there are other gems to explore like Taos and Madrid. 

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