Santa Fe, New Mexico: Oldest Church, State Capitol, Camel Rock

I rolled into Santa Fe just as it was starting to get dark.  It’s a good thing that there was still some daylight, since finding my motel required a lot of driving in circles, up and down Santa Fe’s charmingly narrow one-way streets.  After eating a disappointing meal at the Cowgirl BBQ on Guadalupe Street, I bundled up to brave the cold weather, and set out to photograph Santa Fe at night.

The pre-1937 alignment of Route 66 followed a tangled route of city streets through Santa Fe.  Of course, you’ll soon learn that all the city streets of Santa Fe are somewhat tangled and confusing.  Thankfully, pre-37 66 is well signed, and even if you get lost, that’s all part of the fun of Santa Fe.

St. Francis Cathedral is certainly one of Santa Fe’s most photographed landmarks.  It’s also well-lit at night, so you’ll be able to get some good pictures, even after dark.

However, I soon realized that there’s not much traffic, and not very many lights in Santa Fe’s old town square.  That meant only a few streaks of taillights on the road leading up to St. Francis…

… and not a lot of excitement in the town square.  That, coupled with the chilly weather, quickly chased me back to my hotel for the night.

Day 6 Begins…

As I hit the road, early in the morning on Day 6, I once again found myself driving aimlessly through Santa Fe’s labyrinth.  Purely by accident, I came upon a couple of landmarks that I had missed on my previous visit.

Santa Fe is home to the oldest church in the United States.  The walls of the San Miguel Chapel were built around 1610–a full 10 years before the pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock.  Don’t expect to take a good picture of the chapel early in the morning, though.

A block away from the old church is the New Mexico capitol building–the only round state capitol building in the 50 states.

This is the point where, on this trip, I departed from Route 66.  After all, I had to turn around sometime.  The good news is, I’ve hit many more sections of Old 66 on other trips.  So, if you’d like to continue to follow Route 66, use the search box to find another destination.  If you want to follow the rest of this trip (north into Colorado, then east through Kansas and Missouri), keep reading.

Camel Rock

From Santa Fe, this trip heads north on US Hwy. 84/285. Camel Rock is at exit 175.

Just beyond the Tesuque Pueblo, US 84/285 passes the Camel Rock Casino.  You’ll want to take this exit, and cross over to the west-side frontage road, to get a good look at the odd rock formation from which the casino received its name. Yep, that’s a camel.

Something else that’s impressive at Camel Rock is the view.  Those distant mountains surround the town of Los Alamos.

Note: This trip was first published in 2008.

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