The Turquoise Trail Byway From Albuquerque to Santa Fe

If one picture could sum up the entire trip up Rte. 14, this would be it.  This is a beautiful 2-lane highway that travels through a great rolling desert landscape.  There’s only one downside–traffic.  My trip up Rte. 14 was frustrating, thanks to a huge pack of motorcycles, and several other cars on the road in front of me.  Passing was nearly impossible, and while the road is scenic, there aren’t a lot of viewpoints or turnouts to break up the journey.

We’ll spend much more time in Santa Fe tomorrow.  Today we’re only passing through, but there’s no reason you can’t stop for lunch.  I recommend the restaurant at the La Fonda Hotel.  The beautiful adobe hotel is just off the old town plaza, and only a block from St. Francis Cathedral.  There’s an indoor parking garage (remember to validate your ticket), and an absolutely beautiful restaurant, La Plazuela.

Above is a picture I quickly snapped of my table.  The salsa was everything you would hope for, and the setting is perfect.

The large room is lit with skylights, giving you the feeling that you’re eating in an outdoor plaza.

While dinner at La Plazuela may be a bit expensive for a traveler on a budget, the prices on the lunch menu are easier to stomach.  Expect to pay about $12-15 per person.  Here’s a link to the menu.

From Santa Fe, US Rtes. 84 & 285 run together, and head north, eventually turning from a limited access freeway to a 4-lane road.

There’s a fast way and a slow, scenic way to travel between Albuquerque and Santa Fe.  Interstate 25 provides the fast route, while NM Rte. 14 takes its time on the east side of the Sandia Mountains. 

As you head north out of town, you’ll pass through several Native American reservations, which all seem to have their own casino.  One gambling establishment that stands out is named for the unusual geological feature, just across the street: Camel Rock.

There’s a parking area on the frontage road near Camel Rock, and a short trail that takes you near the formation.  A fence keeps you from climbing on it, or from walking around to the other side.

Note: This trip was first published in 2006.

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