Anyone who skis, hikes, mountain bikes, or rafts knows that the Southwest is unsurpassed in its offerings for outdoor enthusiasts. New Mexico is no exception. This trip is for the road-warrior type of sportsperson. It takes in New Mexico's full sphere of terrain, from the Rocky Mountains in the north to the desert of White Sands in the South and the caves at Carlsbad. Be aware that the region is known for its mercurial weather conditions -- always be prepared for extremes. Also, northern New Mexico is over 6,000 feet in elevation, so it may take you time to catch your breath. Be patient on those long upward hills. The sports you do will, of course, depend a lot on the season. For the full benefit of this trip, take it in late March or early April. With a little advance preparation, you might be able to ski and river raft on the same trip!

Days 1-2: Albuquerque

When you arrive in Albuquerque, you may want to get acclimated to the city by strolling through Old Town. Next, visit the Albuquerque Biological Park to get a sense of the nature in the area and the Pueblo Cultural Center to get acquainted with the culture you'll encounter as you head north.

On day 2, for a truly unique experience, you may want to schedule a balloon ride. Tip: Make reservations for this activity in advance, especially because you fly first thing in the morning. If you're a bike-rider or hiker, head to Petroglyph National Monument for a ride or hike to see thousands of symbols etched on stone. In the evening, ride the Sandia Peak Tramway and do a little hiking along the crest. If you'd like, you can have dinner at the top and view the city lights as you come down.

Day 3: The Turquoise Trail to Santa Fe

On day 3, head for the ghost towns and other sights along the Turquoise Trail to Santa Fe. If you like to ride horses, schedule a ride in Cerrillos with Broken Saddle Riding Company. This will put you in Santa Fe in time to do some late-afternoon sightseeing. Head straight to the plaza, the Palace of the Governors, and St. Francis Cathedral. Have an enchilada at the Shed.

Day 4: Santa Fe

Either use your own bike or rent a cruiser in town to ride around the plaza and up Canyon Road. Stop at the top of Canyon at the Randall Davey Audubon Center to do some bird-watching. Or, you may want to head to the mountains to do some hiking on the Borrego Trail or, if it's winter, some skiing at Ski Santa Fe. Finish your day at one of the fun restaurants or cafes on Canyon Road. In the evening, depending on the season, you may want to take in some of Santa Fe's excellent arts, such as the Santa Fe Opera or the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival.

Day 5: Bandelier National Monument

Head out from Santa Fe to Bandelier National Monument and hike among ancient ruins. Follow the Frijoles Trail as far up as you'd like, making sure you stop to climb the ladders to the kiva perched high on the canyon wall. Trail runners like to jog the Frijoles Trail, with its easy descent back to the start. Next, follow the Rio Grande River north and you'll come to Taos. On the way into town, stop at the San Francisco de Asis church. Spend the evening strolling around the Taos plaza to get a feel of the city.

Day 6: Taos

Sports lovers have many options in this town. If you like to ride horses, take a ride on Taos Pueblo land. Or, you may want to take a llama trek into the Rio Grande Gorge, or hike up to the top of Wheeler Peak, New Mexico's highest, a full-day trek. If it's ski season, you'll definitely want to spend the day at Taos Ski Valley. If it's spring and the rivers are running, either take the full-day, heart-throbbing romp through the Taos Box, or a half-day trip at Pilar.

Day 7: The High Road

Take a leisurely drive south toward Santa Fe. You'll want to take the High Road through the art villages of Cordova and Chimayo. Stop at the Santuario de Chimayo and have lunch on the patio at Rancho de Chimayo. Spend the night in Albuquerque.

Day 8: Acoma Pueblo

Head east on Interstate 40 to Acoma Pueblo and spend some time in its 40,000-square-foot museum to get a sense of the area's culture before taking the bus to the top of Sky City. Have lunch in Grants, or, if you enjoy picnics, pick up goodies before leaving Albuquerque and eat at one of the beautiful stops I mention next. From Grants, head south on NM 117, one of the state's prettiest drives, to El Malpais and El Morro National Monuments, where you'll see great views and some wonderful history. Continue south through Quemado and Reserve to the Catwalk National Recreation Trail, where you'll stretch your legs on an easy hike. Then make your way to Silver City to spend the night. Wildlife lovers may want to stay at the Bear Mountain Lodge, where you'll benefit from on-staff naturalists who can help you spot birds, deer, and other creatures. Have dinner at Diane's Bakery & Cafe.

Day 9: Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

Before you head out of town this morning, pick up supplies for a picnic, or, if you stay at Bear Mountain Lodge, have them pack you one. This day takes you deep into the Gila Wilderness to see the ruins at Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. After you've toured the ruins, head up the Middle Fork Trail; the trail head is near the cliff dwellings. The trail follows the Gila River through the wilderness and offers some lovely picnic spots along the way. As you return to town, take a detour through Pinos Altos and stop for dinner at the Buckhorn Saloon & Opera House. Return to Silver City, where you'll spend the night.

Day 10: White Sands National Monument

This day takes you southeast, with a quick stop at City of Rocks State Park to see lovely rock formations. Have lunch in Las Cruces at one of the restaurants in the vicinity of Old Mesilla, a lovely plaza where you can shop and stroll. In the afternoon, drive northeast on US 70 to White Sands National Monument, where you'll want to spend the late afternoon and early evening. For the night, head to the Lodge at Cloudcroft.

Day 11: Cloudcroft

Today, get ready to burn some calories as you hike or bike the Sacramento Mountains around Cloudcroft. The Rim Trail, which offers views out across White Sands, is considered one of the top bike trails in the United States. Or, choose one of the excellent hiking trails in the area. Spend the night in Cloudcroft.

Day 12: Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Head east to Carlsbad to visit the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens State Park. Have lunch in Carlsbad and then drive out 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. If you're a serious spelunker, arrange in advance for one of the special tours. End your day at the riverwalk, where you can swim and pedal paddleboats, or at your hotel pool.

Day 13: Aliens & Billy the Kid

Take US 285 to Roswell, where you can decide for yourself whether or not aliens landed there in the 1940s. Visit the International UFO Museum and Research Center. From there, head west to Lincoln State Monument. Spend the night there at Ellis Store and Co. Country Inn or at the nearby Capitan Cabins. Have dinner at one of the cafes in Capitan, about 10 miles away.

Day 14: North to Albuquerque

Spend a leisurely morning enjoying the quiet village of Lincoln. Then go west to Capitan, where you can learn about the history of forest fire prevention at Smokey Bear Historical State Park. Have lunch in Carrizozo, where you can feast on a green chile cheeseburger at the Outpost. Continue west to see the Valley of Fires Recreation Area, an amazing lava field. Then drive to San Antonio to the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, arriving in time to see the birds fly in to the lakes after a day in the fields. This takes place in winter at dusk, but there are still plenty of birds to see at other times of year. Finally, head north to Albuquerque, where you can cool down in the pool for the evening and have an enchilada before you catch your plane home.

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.