New Mexico and Colorado National Parks Road Trip

Stunning landscapes, culture and adobe villages await on this 2,121-mile trips starting in El Paso, Texas. See multiple parks in both Colo. and N.M.
By Tori Peglar ,

Cliff Dwellings at Bandelier National Monument


Traveling through New Mexico is like traveling in a foreign country where every turn gives you a different glimpse into a magnificent blend of cultures and food. From El Paso, Texas, head to Las Cruces, N.M., to immerse yourself in New Mexico's chile-based food culture. From there drive to Carlsbad Caverns National Park and White Sands National Monument. 

Farther north Albuquerque and Santa Fe await you, as do the impressive ruins left behind by ancient people in Bandelier National Monument and Mesa Verde National Park. En route, stop in Farmington to visit a trading post, a brewhouse and even a cave where you can spend the night. For a really unique experience, head to Alamosa and Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in the stunning San Luis Valley in Colorado. 

After you've removed the sand from your shoes, head north to the historical town of Grand Lake on the western edge of Rocky Mountain National Park. On your way home, drive up Pikes Peak Highway to reach a 14,115-feet-high summit by car. Farther south stop in Trinidad, Colo., to learn about a fascinating western illustrator before exploring Capulin Volcano National Monument 53 miles to the south.


Start: El Paso, Texas

El Paso's Ysleta Mission

Visit El Paso

Bordering Food and Fun in El Paso, Texas
El Paso offers outdoor adventures and a fascinating glimpse of life here hundreds of years before Texas became a state.
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Carlsbad Caverns National Park and White Sands National Monument

Temple of the Sun Stalagmite at Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Deposit Photos

Another World Down Under in Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Carlsbad Caverns is a stunning place whether you’re a cave fanatic or never thought twice about one. Check out the Big Room.
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Swim and Spelunk near Carlsbad, N.M.
See world-class caves at Carlsbad Caverns National Park and dip in a natural swimming hole under a waterfall.
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7 Hot Spots in Las Cruces, New Mexico
Once part of Mexico, the area offers an incredibly rich culture woven together with strong strands of traditional Mexican influences. Here are the top seven things to do.
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Find True New Mexico in Santa Fe County

El Santuario De Chimayo in Santa Fe, N.M.

Deposit Photos

Looking for adventure that feeds the soul? Check out our top six things to do in Santa Fe County including adobes, the Turquoise Trail and a holey national monument.
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Treasure Hunt in Farmington, N.M.

Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness

Deposit Photos

Native American history meets natural wonders 35 miles from Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness, dotted by spires, sculpted rock and colorful hills. Find four rare treasures here.
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Palaces of the Past in Mesa Verde National Park

Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde National Park.

Grant Ordelheide

Experience the lives of the Ancestral Puebloans who inhabited this enchanting landscape for more than 10,000 years.
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Keeping Up With South Fork

Mountain Biking near South Fork, Colo.

Photo by Ryan Graber courtesy of South Fork Visitor Center

Where crowds are scarce and backcountry roads, trails, and streams are abundant! Join the locals who seem to get outdoors as often as they get out of bed.
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Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

Hiking the dunes in Great Sand Dunes National Park. 

Grant Ordelheide

A Local Taste of Alamosa and San Luis Valley
Base in Alamosa to explore Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve and dine in a farm-to-table restaurant. Plus four quirky side trips.
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Colorado's Sandy Surprise Trapped Against a Mountain
Bring your sled, beach chairs and shade umbrella to explore the tallest sand dunes in North America near Alamosa, Colorado.
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4 Places to Shoot in Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve
It’s hard to understand this park's scale. But don’t be daunted—we asked professional photographer Andre Costantini where to approach the dunes for the best photos.
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Rocky Mountain National Park

Hallett Peak on the Emerald Lake Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park

Adobe Stock

Grand Lake, Colo. is the West Entrance Town to RMNP
Grand Lake is located just one mile from the West Entrance of the Park. Home to Grand Lake, the largest and deepest natural alpine lake in the state.
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10 Things to Do on a Rocky Mountain National Park Vacation
The park and the Estes Park and Grand Lake areas are a Things to Do Mecca! Here are our top picks including hiking, horseback riding and scenic drives.
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Estes Park, Eastern Base Camp for Rocky Mountain National Park
Known for its lodging, small-town charm, and knowledgeable outfitters, Estes Park serves Rocky Mountain National Park and access to the national forest.
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GyPSy Guide Tour App
Download the Rocky Mountain National Park tour app that’s like having a tour guide in your car. GyPSy Guide automatically plays interesting and entertaining commentary as you go.
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Head for the Top of Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs' Garden of the Gods at the foot of Pikes Peak

Deposit Photos

Drive the Pikes Peak Highway to the Summit
There’s only one 14,000-foot peak in Colorado that you can reach by driving all the way up to the summit. It's 19 miles of hairpin turns to get donuts at the Summit House.
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Artistic Bent in Trinidad, Colorado


Copyright A.R. Mitchell Museum of Western Art in Trinidad

Historic and hip sites line Trinidad's streets. From a hike up a volcano to a stroll past a world-class skate park, expect the unexpected on the edge of Colorado’s border with New Mexico.
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End: El Paso, Texas