The Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway, Albuquerque to Santa Fe, New Mexico

Turquoise Trail Scenic Byway

Named for the various turquoise mines along the route, the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway stretches from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, taking you through the mountains, forest and desert of New Mexico for 61 miles.  My GPS says 59 minutes, but with so many amazing places to stop it can take a full day, or longer!

Turquoise Trail Scenic Byway

We were headed to Santa Fe for a fun day trip during our stay in Albuquerque this Summer, and our waiter recommended taking the Scenic Byway instead of the Interstate, and it was his second best recommendation, after the carne adovada!  The byway left I-40 just East of Albuquerque, and immediately we were in the mountains!

Home to many Native American tribes, the foothills of New Mexico were soon being sought after by settlers coming in search of land in the dry, cooler climate that many believed would help cure, or at least make more comfortable their tuberculosis.  Many sanitariums sprang up in Colorado, New Mexico and Western Texas.

As you enter Tijeras, you are in the East Mountains.  To learn more about the East Mountains, click HERE.

My son had really wanted to go horseback riding in the mountains, and we head to Cedar Crest Country Cottage & Stables to inquire about a trail ride, and while we ended up not having time to fit in our schedule that day, the stable’s trail rides take you into the Cibola National Forest and you can choose from a 1-hr, 2-hr or even 4-hr waterfall ride (which we wanted to do), depending on your time and experience.  They are open 7 days a week, and try to book in advance.

The Sandia Mountains, and Sandia Peak Ski Area offers great hiking trails in the summer and the Sandia Peak Tramway.   We had already done the tramway on our first day in the Albuquerque, but the ski area also has a chair lift you can ride to the top and hike back down, ride back down or take your mountain bike up and ride back down!  However, during our visit the lift and restaurant was closed due to construction on a new restaurant.

Madrid, New Mexico

Madrid, pronounced MAD-rid, was my goal for the day, and we absolutely loved this once mining town, turned ghost town, now artist town!  It’s absolutely adorable, which my picture doesn’t neccessarily suggest, but it is!  We grabbed lunch here at the Mine Shaft Tavern and Cantina, and their signature and award-winning Mad-Chili Burger!  We also did some amazing window shopping at the cute boutiques and galleries!  The Madrid Old Coal Town Museum was a hit with my husband and boys!  They also have some cute B&B’s and I honestly would love to have spent another day here, and a lot more money because I loved the shops!  If you’re looking for a really neat Girl’s Trip, this is your destination, especially in December, when the entire town is lit up!  Several movies have been filmed here, including Wild Hogs with Tim Allen and John Travolta.

Turquoise Trail Scenic Byway New Mexico

Just some of the fun things you’ll see along the Turquoise Trail!

Cerrillos Hills State Park, NM

Something we pinned for another day was a visit to the Cerrillos Hills State Park!  The park offers hiking and mountain bike trails, educational programs and horseback riding with Broken Saddle Riding Company.  I really want to visit this stable, because they advertise registered Tennessee Walkers and Missouri Foxtrotters, neither of which I have ever ridden, not even in Tennessee!

Cerrillos New Mexico

Cerrillos was a mining town with gold, silver, coal, and turquoise were all mined here.  You would never guess it today, but at one time it was one of New Mexico’s largest towns!

Casa Grande Trading Post Cerrillos New Mexico

My youngest loved the petting zoo at the Casa Grande Trading Post.

Casa Grande Trading Post and Petting Zoo Cerrillos New Mexico


Casa Grande Trading Post and Petting Zoo Cerrillos New Mexico

We enjoyed a quick run through the Cerrillos Turquoise Mining Museum and doing some fun shopping.  Cerrillos Turquoise was a bit more expensive than the other turquoise he had in the shop, but I just loved it!

You can also take a tour of the Mount Chalchihuitl Turquoise Mine, the oldest mine in New Mexico!

St. Joseph's Church and New Mexico Painted Trees Cerrillos

Another painted tree in front of St. Joseph’s Church.

One of the things I absolutely love about New Mexico is the dark night skies!  On my Bucket List is a guided night sky observation with Astronomy Adventures out of Cerrillos!  If you find yourself there overnight, you should absolutely check it out!


On our way back to Albuquerque, we took the I-25 because I usually don’t like to go the same way twice, and we sat in traffic for most to the drive, which really made me miss the beautiful landscapes of the Scenic Byway, on most of which we only saw a few cars!

Gear Suggestion:  Foval 200W Car Power Inverter DC 12V to 110V AC Converter with 4 USB Ports Charger


Because I love gear and gadgets, here’s something I love and is a road trip essential for us, a car power inverter!  We use it all the time, from charging phones, cameras and the kids games to actually using game systems on our car’s DVD player.  My husband has an old-school Atari system that they love to play in the car!  Click HERE to be directed to Amazon.

I am an Amazon Affiliate, and by purchasing from this link I do receive a small, very small, commission should you choose to purchase.  Thanks!

 Turquoise Trail Scenic Byway

Albuquerque to Santa Fe

Click HERE to visit their website.

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