If you have 2 weeks to spend exploring the region, consider yourself fortunate. In addition to hitting the highlights, you'll be able to spend time getting to know such places as Chama and Chaco National Cultural Park.
Days 1 & 2: Albuquerque
If you have some energy left after traveling, head to Old Town, where you can wander through the plaza and peruse some shops. Be sure to duck into some of the back alleyways and little nooks -- you'll uncover some of the city's most inventive shops in these areas. Next, head over to the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History to get a good sense of the story of this land. Finish the day with one of New Mexico's premier treats -- an enchilada -- at Sadie's. Wash it down with one of their margaritas.
On day 2, start out at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, where you'll get a sense of the cultures you'll encounter up north, and then head to the Albuquerque Biological Park, both in the vicinity of Old Town Plaza. From here, go west of town to visit the Petroglyph National Monument. (If it's summer, you may want to go during the cooler early morning.) In the late afternoon, find your way to Central Avenue, just south of Old Town, and drive east on Route 66. This takes you right through downtown, to the Nob Hill district and the Sandia Mountains foothills, respectively. Finish your day with a ride up the Sandia Peak Tramway. After you reach the top, you may want to hike along the crest, though this isn't safe for young kids. Ideally, you should ride up during daylight and back down at night for a view of the city lights. You may even want to dine at High Finance Restaurant and Tavern on the top.
Day 3: The Turquoise Trail & Santa Fe
Today, strike out for the ghost towns and other sights along the Turquoise Trail to Santa Fe, stopping to peruse some of the galleries in Madrid. This will put you in Santa Fe in time to do some sightseeing. Head straight to the plaza, the Palace of the Governors, and St. Francis Cathedral. If you shop from the Native Americans selling under the portal, be sure to ask about the art you buy; the symbols on it may have interesting significance. Next, make your way over to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum. Finish your day with an enchilada at the Shed. In the evening, depending on the season, you may want to check out Santa Fe's excellent arts scene; try the Santa Fe Opera or the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival.
Day 4: Santa Fe Arts
In the morning, head up to Museum Hill, where you can take your pick from four very unique museums: the Museum of International Folk Art, the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, and the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art. You can have lunch at the Museum Hill Café. On your way back to the plaza, take a stroll and do some shopping on Canyon Road. At sunset during the warmer months, you can enjoy a cocktail at the bell tower of the historic La Fonda Hotel. Eat dinner at Coyote Café or Santacafé -- or if you lingered over your shopping, stop in at Geronimo or the Compound on Canyon Road.
Day 5: Santa Fe
In the morning, take the Plaza Area walking tour, spending time at the Museum of Fine Arts and the Loretto Chapel. If you're visiting during the warm seasons, have lunch in the Sena Plaza at La Casa Sena. In the afternoon, take the Barrio de Analco walking tour up Canyon Road, allowing you more time for shopping that lovely street. Be sure to stop in at El Zaguan to see an old New Mexico hacienda.
Day 6: High Road to Taos
On day 6, travel the High Road to Taos, stopping to rub healing dust between your fingers at the Santuario de Chimayo. On the way into Taos, stop at the San Francisco de Asis church. While there, take note of the thickness of the structure's walls. If you like music, head out to the Sagebrush Inn for some country-and-western music or to the Anaconda Bar to hear some jazz or other live music.
Day 7: Taos
Spend your morning at Taos Pueblo, where you may want to sample some fry bread. Next head 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. Don't just look at the art there. The Fechin Home where the museum is housed is a work of art itself. At cocktail hour, head to the Adobe Bar at the Historic Taos Inn or the Anaconda Bar at El Monte Sagrado to hear live music.
Day 8: The Enchanted Circle
Take the 90-mile loop north of Taos through old Hispanic villages and mining towns to see some of the region's most picturesque landscapes. If you're a literary type, be sure to stop at the D.H. Lawrence Ranch, and if you're a hiker, stretch your legs at the Wild Rivers Recreation Area.
Day 9: West to Chama
If you're traveling in the spring, summer, or fall, take a scenic drive west to Chama. En route, stop in at Tierra Wools to see the weaving. Then wander around Chama to learn about the area's train history. In the afternoon you'll prepare for tomorrow's train ride on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. Be sure to make your train reservations well in advance. As well as offering a great ride, the Cumbres & Toltec is a living train museum, so take some time to wander the grounds. Often volunteers will tell fun stories about the train and its history. Spend the night in Chama. If it's wintertime, the train won't be running, so you'll want to stay in Taos and head to Taos Ski Valley for a day of skiing. Or, if you're not a train buff, and it's spring, take a white-water raft trip down the Taos Box or Pilar.
Day 10: Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad
Spend the day riding the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. Your best bet is to ride the train to the halfway point and turn around and come back. Spend the night in Chama. If you don't ride the train and have stayed in Taos, take a llama trek, with a gourmet lunch.
Day 11: Head South to Bandelier National Monument
This will be a day of pure scenery. You'll drive through Abiquiu and see the crimson-and-white hills that Georgia O'Keeffe painted, and then head into the Jemez Mountains. Stop at Bandelier National Monument. Here you'll 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. From Bandelier, you'll make your way west past the Valles Caldera National Preserve, pausing to look out across this amazing collapsed volcano. From here, head south on the Jemez Mountain Trail. Spend the night at the Cañon del Rio in Jemez Springs.
Day 12: Chaco Culture National Historic Park
Though it's a long, dusty drive to Chaco Culture National Historic Park, its combination of a stunning setting and expansive ruins makes it worthwhile. In fact, Chaco is the Holy Grail for Southwest history buffs. Be sure to hike up the Pueblo Alto Trail to get a full view of the grand kivas and amazing network of dwellings. If you have camping equipment, spend the night at Chaco. If not, you can spend the night at one of the many chain hotels in Grants or head back to Albuquerque.
Day 13: Acoma Pueblo
Today, depending on whether you spent the night camping at Chaco or returned to Albuquerque the night before, you can either drive to I-40 from Chaco and then head east or head west from Albuquerque to Acoma Pueblo. Tour the village with the requisite bus and walking tour, but then be sure to hike down on your own in order to get a good sense of this mesa-top village, where people still live as their ancestors did hundreds of years ago. Spend the night in Albuquerque.
Day 14: Albuquerque
Today -- your last day in Albuquerque -- take a balloon ride in the early morning. (And if you want to do this, be sure to make your reservations in advance.) Then head to the new Balloon Museum to learn more about the sport. Finish the afternoon cooling off at your hotel pool, or if you're energetic, visit the National Hispanic Cultural Center. Have dinner at Seasons Grill or Church Street Café.
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.