There is a state in the contiguous United States that is highly underrated. A land of enchantment, culture, natural hot springs, stunning vistas and undeniably good weather, New Mexico is the hidden gem of our country. In fact, writing about it almost feels like we’re giving away a well-kept secret. If you’re an explorer who desires terrain that is crowd free and so beautiful it makes you want to stick your head in the dirt and cry, the southwest is for you.
We took our Winnebago Fuse for a five day road trip from White Sands, New Mexico, up to Taos then made our way back down to Albuquerque, stopping in Santa Fe and Jemez Springs along the way. Below we have outlined our favorite spots throughout the landscape of this not to be overlooked state. Fun fact, our buddies Hello America shot these photos on 35mm film so all the images you see are old-school, non-digital road trip beauties. We hope you enjoy!
WHITE SANDS NATIONAL MONUMENT
Admission: $10/vehicle or use your annual National Parks Pass
White Sands National Monument is undeniably one of our favorite places in the United States. Rolling waves of sugar white sand dunes engulf over 275 square miles of desert making this spot the world’s largest gypsum dune field. Drive your RV into the park at sunrise (gates open at 7 AM) and stay until sunset. While you’re here, roam the dunes by foot or sled, hike the Dune Life Nature Trail that features unique plant and wildlife and do not miss the gift shop on your way out. If you’re feeling adventurous you can obtain a permit from the ranger’s station to hike in and camp at one of the few designated tent spots in the National Monument
Pro Tip: White Sands is surrounded by a missile range. Park closures happen occasionally when testing is being performed so plan your visit around this calendar provided by the NPS.
Where to RV: Alamogordo White Sands KOA
The proximity of Alamogordo to White Sands (you cannot camp in an RV over night at the monument) is its major appeal factor. The KOA is an easy 15 minute drive and the campground features all the amenities an RVer could want. The bathrooms and showers are private and spotless, full 30 and 50 amp hookups are available, washer and dryer on site and the staff is incredibly friendly.
Where to Eat: Rizo’s
When in New Mexico, we always suggest eating all the authentic Mexican cuisine you possible can. From Sopes to Torta de Milanesa, you can literally get anything your heart desires at Rizo’s. This non-flashy eatery is everything you want from an authentic spot – no frills, delicious food and good Mexican hip-hop tunes. Pay at the counter and get a churro to go.
ALBUQUERQUE BALLOON FIESTA
As we’ve previously mentioned, you cannot go to Albuquerque in October and not attend the Fiesta. We have outlined everything you need to know about the Fiesta in a number of recent blog posts which you can view here:
2018 Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta Recap
What Two LMRV Employees Learned From Their First Time at A Balloon Festival
RVer’s From The Balloon Fest Tell All
Tastiest And Craziest Food Truck Snacks from the International Balloon Festival
Pro Tip: RV at the fiesta! No traffic, no waiting in lines, you have the BEST view of the green and you can come and go from the festival as you please.
SANDIA PEAK TRAMWAY
Get ready for your mind to be blown. We made our way to the Sandia Peak Tramway on a particularly cloudy day and we’re a little disappointed when we started ascending into pure nothingness, only to start gasping with disbelief when we reached the top of the Sandia Peak in Cibola National Forest (a whopping 10,378 feet). The peak affords viewers a panoramic view of the Rio Grande Valley and the Land of Enchantment. Once you’ve reached the top, be sure to take the hiking trail along the stunning cliff side. There are endless vistas for you to picnic by or grab breathtaking photos of the valley below. The entire time we were here we kept saying, “are we really in the United States?!” The landscape mimics those of the Eastern world.
Pro Tip: You’re over 10,000 feet at the top, so be sure to bring extra layers for warmth! There is a restroom and water fountain but the restaurant at the top is being remodeled and will not reopen until spring 2019. Tram rides take 15 minutes each way.
Where to RV: Albuquerque KOA Journey
Our team is impressed with this KOA. From cute cabins to large, full hook-up spots, any RVer can call this campground home for the evening. Location is everything when it comes to campgrounds and Albuquerque Journey is a quick 15 minutes from downtown, the airport and our very own La Mesa RV Albuquerque Store.
Where to Eat: El Patio
Are you a breakfast for dinner kind of road tripper? If you answered yes, this place is for you. Breakfast is served all day and we highly suggest you get the Huevos Rancheros. Two eggs your way on a yellow corn tortilla served with pinto beans, papas, smothered in cheese and green chile with a sopapilla on the side… you will be dreaming of this meal when you leave. The menu also features burgers, pancakes and all sorts of tacos and burritos, so there is truly something for everyone. Sit outside on the patio and people watch downtown Albuquerque.
Stay tuned for our New Mexico Road Trip Guide Part II coming later this week where we show you the beauty of Santa Fe, Taos and San Antonio Hot Springs. Interested in more road trip guides? Check out our Ultimate Guide To Arizona!