Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

 

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Our many hikes in New Mexico was complemented by our visit to the city of Santa Fe. Located an hour away from Albuquerque, Santa Fe is the oldest and highest (elevation) US capital city. It was the capital of the three different countries that New Mexico has been part of in the last few hundred years: Spain, Mexico and presently U.S.A. The oldest standing church in USA (San Miguel) is situated here. We had a quick pizza meal in its courtyard. The church had admission fees of $1 per person over 6 years old. Across the street is the oldest house in United States. Admission is by donation.

In town, Loretta Chapel, the church  whose stairs are built with no nails charges an admission fee of $3 per person over 6 years old. They do not allow visitors to climb the stairs though.

Loretta Chapel - Stairs with no Nails - Santa Fe, NMLoretta Chapel - Stairs with no Nails - Santa Fe, NM

Basilica of San Francis Assisi, Santa Fe, NMIn front of Basilica of San Francis Assisi, Santa Fe, NM

Santa Fe has a beautiful old town. There are many quaint shops and restaurants. Shops close early and closed on Sundays. The old plaza in the middle is great for people watching. Just a street away, the Basilica of San Francis Assisi, the beautiful 18th century church has nice grounds for the kids to stretch out in. We were there Easter Sunday and were lucky enough to catch an Easter egg hunt.  Not too far from the old plaza, the Palace of the Governors is the oldest capital building in U.S.A. It was built in the 1600's and was the state capital of 3 different countries, Spain, Mexico and USA.  Canyon Road is another attraction in Santa Fe, famous for art galleries.

Amongst the White Rocks in Plaza Blanca, NM

Amongst the White Rocks in Plaza Blanca, NM

New Mexico was a trip of many hikes for us. Plaza Blanca is another such hike. It is located on private property but the owners allow for respectful hikers at the time of our visit (closed on weekends). It was a difficult to find trailhead but the directions on their website, if followed properly, makes it easy. Plaza Blanca is made up of beautiful white and gray rocks that imitate the look of majestic old Roman and Greek temples. The Trail ends early, but we followed the dry streambed to go further into the rock formations and climbed up to the tops of the rocks for an amazing aerial view. Follow streambeds at your own risk as there is danger of fatal flash floods.

This part of New Mexico is dotted with National Parks and Monuments. Twenty miles east of Santa Fe is Pecos National Historic Park. Here there are partial excavations of an ancient pueblo and an excavated church from the Spanish era. There is also a kiva to climb into.  (A kiva is a large underground chamber in a Pueblo village used for religious ceremonies and other purposes)

Climbing into a Kiva, Pecos National Historic Park, NM

Climbing into a Kiva, Pecos National Historic Park, NM

The Rio Grande Rift Valley can be seen at Rio Grande Gorge State Park. Rift valleys occur at the boundaries of continental plates, when the land is being stretched and pulled between the plates. Rio Grande River used this valley as its flow path for much of Northern New Mexico.

Valle Caldera, a National Monument, soon to be National Park, is an ancient volcano that has a crater 12 miles in diameter. Valle Grande hike is a free hike we did, that is 2miles roundtrip, which took us down the crater wall, but stops just as we got into the crater. The visitor center is located near center of crater, whose road is only accessible when visitor center is open. Hours change frequently so check the website for updated information. Near the center of the crater, near the visitor center is a small hill called Redondo Peak. It was formed when magma pushed up the surface. The crater itself is a grassland, with the tree line starting at the base of the crater wall, going up the crater wall. Pretty cool when you realize that this seemingly unremarkable meadow is really the inside of a crater filled with enough magma capable of covering an entire continent - a super volcano - though a smaller one in this class. An eruption by a super volcano could block out the sun with falling ash long enough to cause mass extinctions.

Picnic Lunch inside Supervolcano Crater, Valle Caldera, NM

Picnic Lunch inside Supervolcano Crater, Valle Caldera, NM

 

Near Valle Caldera is a little museum called the Bradbury Science Museum. It is museum that educates about nearby Los Alamos Laboratories’ Manhattan Project. There was no fee at time of our visit.

Not too far north, there is a Native American house (called Taos Pueblo) from the 1000s that still has inhabitants. Ticket prices were about $16 per adult. We decided to skip this attraction due to lack of time.

We were not very familiar with New Mexico before our visit. After our visit, we cannot wait to re-visit to explore parts unexplored. We have only scratched the surface of a hikers' paradise.

 

Warning: The safety of these adventures are dependent on a variety of factors including but not limited to: terrain, weather, wildlife, hiker skill level, human error, and other foreseen and unforeseen circumstances. Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information provided at the time of publication, we do not assume any liability for the accuracy and completeness of the information provided.  As such, we will not be held responsible for any harm, injury, and/or loss that may result. Your personal judgement on the safety of each adventure is required at all times. Please use your own discretion and be safe.

 

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