Are you looking for a great stay-cation in New Mexico? After all, it’s not called The Land of Enchantment for nothing! Here are some fab fun ideas for you and your family, from a LOCAL who actually knows what she is talking about :0)
- Sandia Mountain Peak
The Sandia mountains represent the beauty of central new Mexico. They are the symbol for the city of Albuquerque and a glorious sight each evening as the glowing western sun illuminates the mountain’s rugged granite peaks. No less than 4 different biomes and climates exist within this exceptional mountain escape. Driving all the way to the top (on a nicely paved road, or just take a tram ride, even faster) and you’ll leave the arid desert behind for a rainforest wonderland of moss-covered fir trees and the ethereal sounds of tropical birds. You’d think you were in the Pacific Northwest-until you gaze down almost a mile to the completely brown and barren desert of central New Mexico. I always try to find my house.
I could fill pages and pages with the amazing geology of it all, but I’ll spare you. Needless to say, cool rocks are up there with fossils in them :0) My kids love to spot them, and there are endless miles of beautiful hiking trails. When you reach Sandia crest there are restrooms and a gift store to relax in and take in the views.
This 200 acre homestead is a living museum of life for Spanish colonial settlers 300 years ago in central New Mexico (Mexican territory at the time). This is the place every fifth grader goes for a field trip. Yep, I did it, and then promptly forgot all about it. Until this summer when my husband suggested we visit again as a family. It was so cool!
I seriously could not stop taking pictures of this place! I love the idea of homesteading, or more specifically, independent living. They have livestock on hand, and still weave with spun wool on 100+ year old giant wooden looms (like the one pictured above with my husband and a museum volunteer). And they use wool sheared from their sheep. You can watch the volunteers demonstrate the entire process of turning wool into clothing.
I wonder what my oldest son was going to finish writing on his slate here? I guess I’ll let you fill in the blank. It’s fascinating to me to see what education was like 200 years ago. A side door off the school room itself lead to a one room apartment where the teacher would live.
3. Hot Air Ballooning is more accessible than you think
New Mexico is a hot air ballooning mecca of sorts. The lack of trees, lots of dirt roads, and unique wind conditions make it an ideal place for pilots to fly and land their colorful airships. They are absolutely enchanting to watch, and many a passenger pays big bucks to commercial outfits for a ride.
Earlier this summer we noticed several balloons inflating at the park right next to our house. We walked over and I got chatty with a crew member (who happened to be the pilot’s wife). I asked if they needed any help, and the answer was “Yes!” I got on the email list for ‘crew’ and now I go ballooning almost every other weekend with them. It’s totally awesome, I love it. I’ve flown twice, one of those times with my son! So the takeaway here: Pilots will often welcome help if you tell them you’d like to learn the ropes (it takes a bit of manpower and assembly to get them unpacked, up and visa versa), and they will usually reward crew by choosing one of them to fly occasionally. You help enough, you get to go up.
All these photos above are of the pilot I crew for and his balloon (he actually has two balloons, this one is the racer). I’m also super excited to be helping them during the Balloon Fiesta this year, yes THE Balloon Fiesta, the biggest gathering of hot air balloons in the world, and it’s the first week of October in Albuquerque every year. If you’re going to visit New Mexico, it’s an incredible event to attend with the whole family.
4. Kirtland Air Force Base Air Shows
The weekend after I got back from Salt Lake City, we all went to the Kirtland Air Force Base 75th anniversary air show! It was great. So many amazing planes and helicopters and everything in between. Check out that beautiful flying fortress behind us! This was a great event for the whole family to attend, I highly recommend it :0)
This is a V 22 Osprey hybrid airplane/helicopter. They have a bunch of them here, and we see them flying over us all the time. The rotors tilt from vertical to horizontal so it can fly like an airplane and land/take off like a helicopter. Such amazing technology! Kirtland AFB usually hosts an air show every five years, and they go all out for two days to show off all their amazing machinery.
5. Earthship Visitor Center outside of Taos, New Mexico
Just a few minutes outside of Taos, NM a whole community of Earthship houses exists. Many of the homes are well, radical-looking, I’ll admit that. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a village on Tatooine or something. But you can tour an Earthship full of helpful staff to answer all your questions.
The ‘Earthship’ home was created about 20 years ago (they’re still refining the designs, getting them even more efficient). The home heats and cools itself with convection alone, no furnace or swamp cooler needed. The roof catches rainwater and funnels it into cisterns in the ground. An ingenious water system filters and reuses the water 3 additional times (after you drink it or shower with it) to water the planters and fill the toilets. No need for a well. A greenhouse runs the full length of one side of the house, growing plenty of food year-round. You are your own organic farmer’s market. This home would be heaven for an organic-only vegetarian. You can grow just about anything in the planters including bananas, dates, lemons, peppers, melons, and herbs.
If you’d like a virtual tour, you can view one here. Above is a pic of me and the fam at the Earthship visitor center. I think now they’re a little more open to the idea of living in one ;0)