I felt like I was running a little ahead of schedule, as I prepared to leave Las Vegas, New Mexico. So instead of rejoining Route 66 for the drive into Santa Fe, I decided to make a short loop into the mountains north of Las Vegas.
This was one of those moments on a road trip where I had no idea where I was going, or even why I was going there. I just had a feeling that there might be something interesting up Route 518, so I took it.
[tmt_info =””]This loop started at New Town Las Vegas, New Mexico. I found NM Rte. 518 and headed north, passing Storrie Lake. Just before reaching Buena Vista, NM Rte. 161 turned off to the right. 161 runs through rolling fields and the village of Golondrinas, before hitting Interstate 25. I-25 then runs south, returning to Las Vegas.[/tmt_info]
After escaping the immediate Las Vegas area, Rte. 518 is a scenic drive, running next to mountains that rise up on the western side of the road.
It wasn’t until I turned onto Rte. 161 that I really started to enjoy the drive. Just after turning onto 161, you can look at the homes scattered in the valley at Buena Vista.
Aside from a relaxing drive through the countryside, there’s not a lot to see along 161..
… until you reach the tiny town of Golondrinas. The road makes a couple of tight turns as it twists through the community. Overlooking the road, the ancient La Iglesia de San Acacio church. I don’t know much about the church, and this very well may be the only picture of it on the internet. I’d love to hear from someone who knows more about it.
Could you ask for a more beautiful road? Actually, I think this is the view looking west, so if you’re following my route, this will be what you see in your rear-view. Perhaps this loop would be better traveled in the counter-clockwise direction, so you could spend more time staring at those beautiful New Mexico mountains.
Note: This trip was first published in 2008.