If you've got 2 weeks to spend exploring the region, consider yourself fortunate. You'll not only be able to hit the highlights in the north, but you'll also be able to spend time getting to know such places as Chaco National Cultural Park, White Sands National Monument, and Carlsbad Caverns National Park. This trip is fun any time of year. In winter, the north will be cold and the south will be cool. In the warmer months, the north will be warm and the south very hot.
Days 1-4: Albuquerque & Santa Fe
For days 1 through 4, follow those days as outlined in the suggested itinerary: "New Mexico in One Week."
Day 5: The High Road
Today, travel the High Road to Taos, stopping at the little galleries and art studios along the way. Be sure to rub healing dust between your fingers at Santuario de Chimayo. On the way into Taos, visit the San Francisco de Asis church. If you like nightlife, head out to the Sagebrush Inn to dance to country-and-western music or to the Anaconda Bar to hear some jazz or other music.
Day 6: Taos
Spend the morning at Taos Pueblo. Next head over to the Millicent Rogers Museum and the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. During the afternoon, do some shopping around the Taos Plaza and then visit the Taos Art Museum. At cocktail hour, head to the Adobe Bar at the Historic Taos Inn.
Day 7: Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad
This morning, get up early and head west on a scenic drive to Chama, where you can spend the day riding the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. Be sure to check departure times for the train and make reservations in advance. Spend the night in Chama.
Day 8: Chaco Culture National Historic Park
From Chama, drive across the Jicarilla Apache Indian Reservation on NM 537 to Chaco Culture National Historical Park. Though it's a long dusty drive, Chaco's combination of stunning setting and expansive ruins makes the day worthwhile. In fact, Chaco is the Holy Grail for Southwest history buffs. If you have camping equipment, spend the night at Chaco. If not, stay the night in Grants.
Day 9: Acoma Pueblo
Head east on Interstate 40 to Acoma Pueblo. Upon arrival, spend some time in the pueblo's 40,000-square-foot museum to get a sense of the culture before taking the bus to the top of Sky City. Next, head south on NM 117, one of the state's prettiest drives, to El Malpais, where you can stretch your legs on a short or long hike. Continue south through Quemado, then turn east ,and drive to Magdalena, where you can stop for a milkshake at Evett's Cafe. (This is a long drive, so you'll need a refresher.) Spend the night in Socorro, or continue south to San Antonio, where you can stay at the Casa Blanca B&B.
Day 10: Birds & Lava
If it's wintertime, wake up before dawn today and head out to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, where you can watch thousands of cranes and snow geese take flight. (Even if it's not winter -- when thousands of cranes and geese fill the sky -- you can still tour the refuge to see birds and wildlife.) From the refuge, head east on US 380 to the Valley of Fires Recreation Area, an amazing lava field, where you can stretch your legs before lunch. Your next stop is Carrizozo to feast on a green chile cheeseburger at the Outpost. Or, if you're not into burgers, continue on to Capitan to eat at the Greenhouse Café. Either way, you'll want to make your way east along the Lincoln Loop through Capitan to Lincoln, where you can visit the Lincoln State Monument and walk in the footsteps of Billy the Kid. Spend the night in Ruidoso.
Day 11: Ruidoso
If you like to hike, stop at the Lincoln National Forest Ranger Station for directions to the many trails in the area. Otherwise, you may want to shop a little. If it's winter, you can ski at Ski Apache. Or, if you have an interest in horses, head over to the Hubbard Museum of the American West and then take in some horse racing at Ruidoso Downs. Spend the night in Ruidoso, and if you feel like splurging, stay at the Inn of the Mountain Gods. Even if you don't stay there, you may want to drive to the inn for an evening stroll around the lake and a little dice throw in its casino.
Day 12: White Sands National Monument
This day takes you south out of Ruidoso through the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation on US 70 and NM 244. Just outside the reservation, you arrive in Cloudcroft, a darling mountain town with some good hiking and mountain biking. Next, head down a spectacularly scenic pass on US 82 into Alamogordo to visit the New Mexico Museum of Space History and one of the stars of this trip: White Sands National Monument. Spend the night in Alamogordo.
Day 13: Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Spend the morning driving to Carlsbad and have lunch in the town itself. If you like zoos, you may want to visit the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens State Park, but be sure to save energy for your afternoon. Head south to the most spectacular sight in New Mexico, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, where you want to walk down into the cave, rather than ride the elevator (trust me). End your day by strolling along the water at the riverwalk, or if it's summertime, by relaxing at your hotel pool.
Day 14: Alien Sightings
Spend your last day on a long cruise north to Albuquerque. Take US 285 to Roswell, where you can feed your X-Files fantasies at the International UFO Museum and Research Center. History buffs may want to detour to Fort Sumner to see Billy the Kid's grave, but more importantly to see the tragedy presented at Fort Sumner State Monument. If you choose this option, stop for a bite afterward at Joe's in Santa Rosa. In Albuquerque, you can finish the trip with one last enchilada at Sadie's.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.