If you have been following along on my blog recently, you will know I've been chronicling about a trip my husband and I took in the fall, when we drove from our house in the Denver area to a family wedding in a suburb of Phoenix Arizona. We first visited Mesa Verde National Park in SW Colorado, then the Four Corners Monument, also in SW Colorado, on through the Navajo Nation in Northern Arizona. While in Arizona we visited Saguaro National Park and the Petrified Forest National Park and the Painted Desert. When we left the Petrified Forest National Park we headed right into the state of New Mexico by Interstate 40. It was late afternoon, and we knew we had many miles to drive before we reached the hotel where we had reservations in Las Vegas, New Mexico, for the night, which would be about halfway home.
(All photos and collages in this post will enlarge if clicked on)
New Mexico's motto is "The Land of Enchantment," and it is easy to see why. The landscapes we passed along the road were spectacular!
The late afternoon sun gave the landscape a beautiful glow.
It seemed as if we could see for hundreds of miles all around us, and we watched as rain clouds gathered before us.
Mother Nature put on a beautiful show while we drove ....
...and the rainbow followed us for many miles.
The rain stopped, but the large cumulus clouds remained on the horizon.
Such glorious scenery...
...we knew we would be back one day to explore more of New Mexico.
The sun began to set and it lit the sky with gold and crimson.
As we approached Albuquerque , New Mexico, we drove NE onto Interstate 25, where we saw this tour bus in a gas station rest stop. Unfortunately, that is all we saw for the rest of the night, as the sun set and we drove the rest of the miles in darkness.
The next morning we checked out of our hotel and took a ride to the nearby Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge. This 4,200 acre refuge and conservation area promotes the protection of private working ranches via conservation easements. Las Vegas is Spanish for "the meadows," and this is the perfect place to personify much of what this area topography consists of, both short and long grass prairie. The refuge has nature trails, scenic drives and an overlook observation deck to observe migrating birds and land animals. If you click on to enlarge the collage above you can read more about thee preserve and the animals that depend on the land. It was raining when we visited the preserve so we did not walk any of the trails, nor did I get any good photos of the wildlife, but it was still an interesting place to visit.
We also took a drive through the town of Las Vegas, New Mexico, that was established in 1835 by the Mexican government. During the Mexican America War in 1846, Stephan W. Kearney delivered an address at the Plaza of Las Vegas, claiming New Mexico for the United States. Las Vegas became part of the Santa Fe Trail and its popularity grew, A railroad came to the town in 1880 and the town continued to grow. Along with the development, however, came many new residents some of which had an unsavory element of the "wild west." Notables were Doc Holliday, Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, Mysterious Dave Mather, and Hoodoo Brown.
Click on the photo of the placard above which shows a map of the Santa Fe Trail, that led from Independence, Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and describes its significance to the American West.
We continued driving north through the plains area of New Mexico.
There was not much to see in this area besides the beautiful clouds and sky.
We reached the border between New Mexico.....
....and entered our home state of Colorado, where we would travel over more of the Santa Fe Trail over Raton Pass.
Raton Pass, at 7834 feet elevation, is a mountain pass and also a National Historic Landmark. The pass is located on the eastern side of the Sangre de Christo Mountains between Trinidad, Colorado and Raton, New Mexico, approximately 100 miles northeast of Santa Fe. The pass crosses the line of volcanic mesas that extend east.
If you click on the photos above and below you can read more about the pass and a brief history of the nearby town of Trinidad, Colorado.
Trinidad became a large coal mining town, and also became a melting pot of many ethnicities due to the abundance of mining jobs. The coal mines closed over the years, but since the 1980's companies have been drilling gas wells here to extract coal bed methane gas.
Knowing we were a couple hundred miles from home we did not do any more stops along the way. As much as we love to travel, it is always good to return to the familiarity of home.
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