Monday, December 18, 2006

Vacation Part 2 - Monday - West of Santa Fe

Monday, we decide to go towards Los Alamos and into the mountains west of Santa Fe. We went past Camel Rock, but I didn't think to get a photo. There was an overlook at White Rock that we stopped at - fantastic view of the Rio Grande way below, plus a couple of waterfalls. Unfortunately, the sun was at the wrong angle to get great shots of the waterfalls, but again - the vistas were fantastic!

Then we came upon Bandelier National Monument - we decided to stop and see what was to offer. We had planned on buying the National Park pass with all of our stops at National Parks, so I got one at Bandelier. We followed the hiking trail back about 0.25 - 0.5 mile and saw some Pueblo ruins and evidence of the cave dwellers. I decided not to risk climbing up to look in the caves and the one restored cliff pueblo. We were at about 6000 feet elevation and I'm terribly out of shape and wasn't sure about the knees. It was fairly warm out in the sun, but there was some snow on the ground in the shade. Driving back out of the park, we had to stop at the overlooks so that I could get photos of the canyon and the mesas around.

We drove into Los Alamos, but the museum run by the National Laboratory wasn't open on Monday mornings. It was starting to snow, so we decided not to wait around but to continue on our journey.

Next stop was Valle Grande, a caldera - or crater - of the extinct Jemez volcano. In the summertime, this caldera is supposed to be a beautiful meadow of wildflowers with the mountains all around. It was still pretty impressive, even in December. We saw some property for sale and started dreaming - it would be a great place for a retreat!

Back to Santa Fe for the night - we were starting to know I-25 pretty well by this point.

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