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

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

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Traveling through New Mexico is like exploring a foreign country where every turn gives you a different glimpse into a magnificent blend of cultures and food. From El Paso, Texas, drive to Carlsbad Caverns National Park and White Sands National Monument. Farther north, a string of charming towns near Santa Fe await you, as do the impressive ruins left behind by ancient people in Bandelier National Monument. En route to Colorado's Mesa Verde National Park, stop in Farmington to visit a trading post, a brewhouse and even a cave where you can spend the night. Then 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 [see pages 7-19 for more park details]. On your way home, stop in Colorado Springs to reach a 14,115-feet-high summit by car. Farther south take a scenic drive near Trinidad, Colo., see the works of a fascinating western illustrator and explore Capulin Volcano National Monument 53 miles to the south. 

Map

Start: El Paso, Texas

El Paso's Ysleta Mission

El Paso's Ysleta Mission

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.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Rock of Ages Viewing Area on the Big Room Trail in Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Rock of Ages Viewing Area on the Big Room Trail

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.

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.

White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument in New Mexico

Sand and Sun at White Sands National Monument
Play in the giant sandbox of white gypsum in New Mexico.

Go Nuts in Alamogordo, N.M.
Just minutes from White Sands National Monument, Alamogordo, N.M., has some must-see attractions. Read more on our sister website at www.mygrandcanyonpark.com/road-trips/alamogordo-nm

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.

Find True New Mexico in Santa Fe County

Pecos National Historical Park near Santa Fe, New Mexico

Pecos National Historical Park

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

Albuquerque vs. Santa Fe Personality Quiz
Driving through New Mexico en route to the Grand Canyon, do you spend more time in Albuquerque or Santa Fe? Take this quiz on our sister website to find out www.mygrandcanyonpark.com/road-trips/albuquerque-santa-fe

Treasure Hunt in Farmington, N.M.

Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness in New Mexico

Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness

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.

Mesa Verde National Park

Cliff Palace Tour at Mesa Verde National Park

Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde National Park.

Palaces of the Past
Experience the lives of the Ancestral Puebloans who inhabited this enchanting landscape for more than 10,000 years.

48 Hours in Mesa Verde
Only have 48 hours to explore Mesa Verde National Park? Stick to our detailed itinerary to hit all the most important stops. There's more to do beyond the main attraction of touring ancient cliff ruins. Take a hike, gaze from a fire tower or have dinner with a view.

Scenic Train Ride From Chama, N.M. to Antonito, Colo.

Conductor in the caboose of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad train

Take a Journey through Time on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad
Board the train for a full day of jaw-dropping views. If you didn't know better, you might think you'd been transported back to 1880.

Stop in South Fork

Mountain Biking near South Fork, Colo.

Mountain Biking near South Fork, Colo.

Don’t let this sleepy town tucked into the folds of the mountains fool you. South Fork's small size is counteracted by the extraordinary amount of energy its 350 year-round residents generate through outdoor recreation.

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

Great Sand Dunes National Park in Springtime

Great Sand Dunes National Park in Springtime

48 Hours in Great Sand Dunes National Park
Make your time in the park count with our detailed itinerary! This other-worldly park boasts the tallest sand dunes in North America.

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.

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.

Stones that Hold Secrets
Discovered in the sands of Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, oddly shaped stones play rock music.

Drive Colorado’s Best-Kept Secret Road in Park County

Sightseeing from the road in Park County, Colorado

Point your wheels towards evergreen forests, pristine rivers and abundant wildlife opening up to a beautiful high alpine valley, guarded by breathtaking peaks.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Hallet Peak from the Emerald Lake Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park

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

Enter the Park at Grand Lake, the West Entrance
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.

48 Hours in Rocky Mountain National Park
Only have 48 hours? Make the most of your time by following our itinerary covering both sides of the park.

GyPSy Guide Audio Driving Tour
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.

Erik Stensland, the Light Catcher
A revolution and a refugee crisis spur on a photography career for Rocky Mountain National Park's Erik Stensland.

Exit the Park at Estes Park, the East Entrance
Perched at 7,200 feet and 90 miles away from Denver, Estes Park is a fantastic basecamp for exploring Rocky Mountain National Park’s eastern side. Read about three local entrepreneurs who share their recommendations and why they love their town next to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Spring into Fun at Colorado Springs

Garden of the Gods in front of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs

Garden of the Gods in front of Pikes Peak

4 Adventures in Colorado Springs
From Bigfoot sightings to summiting a 14,000-foot-peak by car, Colorado Springs is a place to spend several days. The bonus? Many of our favorite attractions are free

Enjoy the Ride in Trinidad, Colorado

Art meets architecture in Trinidad, Colo.

Art meets architecture

Scenic drives, stunning landscapes and strolls through a historic downtown await in Trinidad, Colo. Explore an extinct volcano, check out Kit Carson’s coat and eat an amazing vegan meal. 

End: El Paso, Texas

Related

Scenic road in Rocky Mountain National Park

Win a Colorado Road Trip Vacation

Go from guided hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park to sandboarding the drifts in Great Sand Dunes National Park, with stops for hot springs, lakes and river rafting.