There’s no better way to see the American Southwest than by getting off the interstate and following roads that wander through desert, mountains and little-visited villages. The Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway allows RV camping fans to do just that. Follow along as we offer our overview of New Mexico’s Turquoise Trail.
What You’ll See and Do on the Turquoise Trail
Taking the south to north route along the Turquoise Trail means starting your journey at Tijeras, New Mexico, seventeen miles east of Albuquerque on I40. Take the time while in Tijeras to make at least two stops – Tijeras Pueblo Archaeological Site and Cibola National Forest. You’ll gain new perspective on the Southwest’s earliest inhabitants and the immensity of a one million acre wilderness encompassing five mountain ranges.
Traveling on toward Sandia Crest on the Turquoise Trail you’ll pass through the villages of Cedar Crest and Sandia Park. Linger long enough to enjoy The Museum of Archaeology and Material Culture at Cedar Crest and such memorable roadside attractions as the Tinkertown Museum. Simply driving your RV through Cibola National Forest will take your breath away, but for a heart-stopping view high above the Turquoise Trail, travel to the ten-thousand-plus-feet peak of Sandia Crest by RV or on the Sandia Peak Tramway.
Once you’ve had your fill of the wonder of Sandia Crest, head your RV back down the mountain to Hwy 14 and the village of San Antonito. Continue north to the gold rush town of Golden, where you’ll find 1830s mining equipment along the road, surrounded by ruins to photograph and a general store to meet your travel needs.
And then it’s north to the historic mining town of Madrid (MAD-rid), where once mighty coal mines are now the backdrop for a thriving artist’s colony. Plan time to wander the streets searching for treasure at the galleries and shops; you’ll find the area’s legendary turquoise celebrated in many forms.
As you wind your way on mountain roads toward Cerrillos, keep an eye out for signs of the turquoise deposits that gave this byway its name. Stop to enjoy the Old West feel of Cerrillos, once a center for turquoise mining in the Southwest.
Finish your journey north to Santa Fe with a stop at San Marcos and Lone Butte, where reminders of the area’s mining history are everywhere. You’ll also find galleries, a sculpture garden and even an art institute to entertain you in these mountain villages.
Your next stop, Santa Fe is, of course, worthy of an entire blog post! This beautiful mountain city offers all the comforts of modern civilization in an ancient setting rich with Pueblo culture. Visit the galleries for which the city is famous and be sure to wander the streets near the Palace of the Governors for a true taste of Santa Fe’s fascinating history.
Where You Can Camp on the Turquoise Trail
Scenic campgrounds dot the landscape all along the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway. Here are just a few ideas to help you plan your RV trip.
This gem of a scenic byway is waiting to help you create fantastic RV vacation memories. Make your trek on the Turquoise Trail this year.