On our way from Carlsbad Caverns National Park to Mesa Verde National Park, we spent a few days in Albuquerque, NM. This was partly because we needed time to do some laundry but also because Jennifer's cousin, Brent, lives there and we wanted to see him, which we did. We had a great visit to his home and had time to catch up on our respective lives.
We found there are lots of things to do in the Albuquerque area.
Our first visit was Petroglyph National Monument. We were delighted. A petroglyph is an image on a rock created by an ancient person using stone tools. There were thousands of them in the monument. At the Visitor Center, we learned that the monument is on the edge of the West Mesa, a 17 mile long table of land west of the Rio Grande river, and also just west of Albuquerque. We visited the Piedras Marcadas Canyon and the Boca Negra Canyon. We walked out in the Piedras Marcadas Canyon. When we arrived at the parking lot, we found ourselves in their small parking lot nestled among homes and shops. How could this be a national monument? We walked a short way up the trail and found ourselves in the desert. The city is built right up to the monument, but stops right where the mesa and its petroglyphs begin. We walked out and quickly saw many petroglyphs on the rocks that form the sides of the mesa.
We went to Boca Negra Canyon but ran into a school outing that pretty much took up the entire parking lot and all of the picnic area, so we decided to move on.
We moved on to Sandia Crest, at the top of Sandia Mountains. There is a road that goes up the east side of the mountains and is used in the winter for reaching the ski area. We could see from Albuquerque that there was a good chance that we would not be able to see anything from Sandia Crest as the clouds were hovering around the top of the mountains, but we decided that we would go anyway. As we approached the crest, we saw some snow showers and, of course, road construction. And we were here in mid-May. It was so hot in the desert in Joshua Tree and Saguaro, so we were a bit surprised by the cold weather, but we were prepared just in case, so on we went. When we reached Sandia Crest, we couldn't see anything below us. We were completely in the clouds. We only have photos of the photos to see what it would have been like on a clear day.
We had one more day in Albuquerque. What to do? The AAA guidebook recommended the Jemez Mountain tour including Bandelier National Monument. We decided to take this loop road. The map looked so straightforward, showing no elevation. We drove almost to Santa Fe then headed west toward Bandelier. When we arrived at the visitor center, we found that access to the monument is now only by shuttle bus, and our guidebook was a few years old and this must have very recently started. We just didn't have the time to wait for a shuttle so we decided to drive past the monument entrance and on west toward Jemez Springs. This direction took us just south of Los Alamo. Yes, the Los Alamos. The road went up and up until we were in the high country where we could see snow falling. Fortunately, it was only sticking on the grass and trees and the road was staying clear with the temp just above freezing. Again, a surprise. We climbed over the ridge and down the other side and found ourselves in Valles Caldera National Preserve, a large open meadow in the middle of the mountains.
We drove on and started down again toward Jemez Springs and found ourselves driving through the canyon with large red cliffs on both sides. It was a nice resort area with art type shops and lots of restaurants and lodges. Down we went until we reached the valley and the highway we would take the next day toward Mesa Verde. We went rather suddenly from being in the canyon to being in the wide valley.
We stayed at the Enchanted Trails RV Park. It featured several vintage trailers and cars, and they were fun to see. We were on old route 66 which goes right through Albuquerque. It turned out to be a nice park. The park was basically gravel with a few trees. Our only complaint was that the WiFi was not reliable. Where have you heard this before? See any of our prior RV park stays. Only a very few had decent WiFi.