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12 Fun Day Trips from Diamond Tail

Immerse yourself in the richness of New Mexico! Inspiration, enrichment, physical activity, rejuvenation, and some lovely rest and relaxation – these day trips are definitely a must!

1. Coronado Historic Site – 11 miles

Located just minutes from Diamond Tail, the Coronado Historic Site and the Ruins of Kuaua Pueblo offers ramada-covered picnic tables with magnificent views of the Rio Grande and Sandia Mountains.

The Visitor's Center, designed by noted architect John Gaw Meem, contains prehistoric and historic Puebloan and Spanish Colonial artifacts with several hands-on components was.

When archeologists from the Museum of New Mexico excavated the ruins of Kuaua Pueblo during the 1930s, they discovered a square kiva in the south plaza of the community. This kiva, or ceremonial chamber, contained many layers of mural paintings. These murals represent some of the finest examples of Pre-Columbian art ever found in the United States. Painstaking efforts allowed for the recovery of the murals, and fourteen examples of the original art are on display in the Visitor's Center.

Searching for the fabled Seven Cities of Gold in 1540, Francisco Vásquez de Coronado — with 500 soldiers and 2,000 Indian allies from New Spain — entered the Rio Grande valley somewhere near this site. Instead of treasure, Coronado found a dozen villages inhabited by prosperous native farmers. The northernmost of the twelve villages was Kuaua, which was first settled around 1325 AD and was occupied by approximately 1,200 people when Coronado arrived. Conflict with Coronado and later Spanish explorers led to the abandonment of this site within a century of first contact. Today, the descendants of the people of Kuaua live in the surviving Tiwa-speaking villages of Taos, Picuris, Sandia, and Isleta.

2. Old Town Albuquerque – 25 miles

Historic Old Town has been the heart of Albuquerque since the city was founded here in 1706. Today, Old Town is the city's cultural center, with numerous museums and more than 100 shops, galleries, restaurants, hotels, and Bed & Breakfasts. Although this area is bubbling with activities and events, you will also find quiet hidden patios, winding brick paths, gardens, and balconies to enjoy as you please.

3. Tent Rocks National Park – 40 miles

Observe, study, and experience the geologic processes that shape natural landscapes at the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. The cone-shaped tent rock formations are the products of volcanic eruptions that occurred 6 - 7 million years ago that left pumice, ash, and tuff deposits over 1,000 feet thick.

Located on the Pajarito Plateau, this park includes a national recreation trail ranging from 5,570 - 6,760’ elevation and is for foot travel only. It contains two segments providing opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, geologic observation, and plant identification.

4. Cochiti Lake – 40 miles

Perfect for swimming, floating, stand-up paddle boarding, canoeing, or kayaking, Cochiti Lake has about 8-10 shade structures with picnic tables and restrooms.

Cochiti Dam is one of the ten largest earth fill dams in the US. It is one of the four units for flood and sediment control on the Rio Grande. It is 1,200 surface acres and water for this lake is imported from the Colorado River Basin to the Rio Grande Basin via the San Juan Diversion Project across the Continental Divide.

5. Madrid – 43 miles

Nestled in a narrow canyon in the Ortiz Mountains, the village of Madrid was once an historic coal mining town, a ghost town, and is now a thriving creative community with over 40 shops and galleries, several restaurants, a spa, and museum. Venture a couple miles north and visit Cerrillos – the quaint village that includes a state park with hiking paths and horseback riding.

Madrid started as a coal mining settlement in the early 1800s and was officially founded in 1895. It was a company town owned by a succession of different mining companies, with mining cabins and other infrastructure imported from out of state. As demand for coal fell in the early 1900s, mining operations ceased, and Madrid became and abandoned ghost town.

6. Santa Fe Plaza – 50 Miles

The Santa Fe Plaza has been Santa Fe’s cultural hub since it was founded in 1610. In its early years it hosted bullfights and fandangos. Today, it continues to be the epicenter for activity – including live music, Indian and Spanish markets, and countless festivals and events. On most nights you will find the plaza buzzing with activity, given its many restaurants, art galleries, and souvenir shops.

The plaza is a National Historic Landmark and is surrounded by numerous historical attractions like the Palace of the Governors, the San Miguel Mission built in 1880, and the Loretto Chapel built in 1878 that features the “Miraculous Staircase”.

7. Jemez Springs – 50 miles

Surrounded by red rock formations and dusty grasslands that may remind you of your favorite Western movie, Jemez Springs is a very special place. The small town is perfect for people wanting to explore shops, restaurants, and galleries. If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure, there are numerous hikes and trails that will take you to some truly stunning viewpoints.

Jemez Springs is abundant with nurturing hot springs - both commercial and primitive whose healing mineral waters have attracted many here for centuries. In fact, archaeological findings discovered near Soda Dam date back as far as 2500 BC. Pueblos were later created and today visitors can walk the 1,400-foot interpretive trail at Jemez Historic Site whose ruins date back 500 years. The 16th century San José de Guisewa (Jemez) church at the monument encapsulates the arrival of Spanish missionaries to the area. San José de Guisewa is one of the largest of all missions in the United States. Jemez Springs transformed into a tourist destination in the 1800s because of the lure of its hot springs.

8. Valles Caldera National Preserve – 72 miles

Each year thousands of visitors come to Valles Caldera National Preserve to explore the unique geology, view wildlife, and learn about the historic cabins and prehistoric sites. This preserve has something for everyone whether it is hiking, wildlife viewing, picnicking, fishing, bicycling, skiing, snowshoeing, activities with rangers, horseback riding, guided tours, or learning about astronomy. About 1.25 million years ago, a spectacular volcanic eruption created the 13-mile-wide circular depression now known as the Valles Caldera. The preserve is known for its huge mountain meadows, abundant wildlife, and meandering streams. The area also preserves the homeland of ancestral native peoples and embraces a rich ranching history.

9. Pecos – 80 miles

A village of small, family-owned lodges, restaurants, shops, and guiding services, Pecos is an ancient place with modern amenities. Tucked into a river valley offering a horizon that scan mountains, meadows, mesas, and plains, it is a perfect place to hike, fish, horseback ride, relax, and meditate.

Called the “Gateway to the Outdoors”, the Pecos Wilderness area has over 223,000 acres and is home of the Pecos National Historical Park, the idyllic Pecos River, colorful aspen groves, and winding mountain trails.

10. Bandelier National Monument – 94 miles

Known for its mesas, sheer-walled canyons, and several thousand ancestral Pueblo dwellings, the Bandelier National Monument has over 33,000 acres of designated wilderness. With archaeological sites of native settlements carved into the canyon walls themselves and volcanic formations surrounding the area, it’s impossible not to be stunned by the jaw-dropping scenery. Explore and enjoy its museums, hiking trails, boating, and some of the most dramatic landscapes in the country.

Bandelier's human history extends back for over 11,000 years when nomadic hunter-gatherers followed migrating wildlife across the land. By 1150 AD Ancestral Pueblo people began to build more permanent settlements. This monument offers one of the most intriguing and beautiful insights into the land and lives of the ancient people who lived here.

11. Ojo Caliente – 104 miles

Just north of Santa Fe you'll find Ojo Caliente, a secluded and tranquil hot springs resort. Marked as sacred by Native Americans, Ojo's legendary waters have been soothing body, mind, and spirit naturally for thousands of years. Ojo is one of the oldest natural health resorts in the US and the only hot springs in the world with four different sulfur-free healing mineral waters.

The resort has a historic and eclectic charm with modern amenities. The full-service spa offers a wide range of soothing and restorative treatments. Lodging options range from enchanting suites and charming cottages to the historic hotel and private homes. You’ll have access to over 1,100 acres of hiking and biking trails plus daily yoga classes. Buy a day pass or treat yourself and stay for a couple days.

12. Lake Abiquiu and Ghost Ranch – 110 miles

Lake Abiquiu and Ghost Ranch offer a wide variety of year-round activities and may compel you to plan an extended stay. Both offer stunning landscape, hiking, and a peaceful place to rest and renew. At Lake Abiquiu, you can enjoy great fishing and watersports.

Surrounded by the red and yellow cliffs of the Piedra Lumbre (shining stone), at Ghost Ranch you can sign up for guided hikes, kayaking and canoeing, horseback riding, exploring the archaeological and fossil quarries, or opt for a day pass to enjoy self-guided hikes, tour the museums, and take in the beautiful landscape. The ranch is committed to personal development, preserving the environment, and exploring family through the celebration of art, culture, and nature. If you’re interested in workshops and longer retreats including spirituality, writing, painting and poetry, visit their website to learn more.

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