For a segment on San Antonio Living on News 4 San Antonio I shared some of my favorite road trips in Texas, New Mexico and Southwest Colorado.
Click HERE to view the segment.
Hill Country Day Trip or Weekend Getaway
Concan – Head to the canyon country section of the Texas Hill Country. Concan is about 1.5 hours from San Antonio. In summer you have to float or fish the Frio River. Go hiking at Garner State Park. Old Baldy is the iconic short and steep hike with wonderful views. If heading to Garner, make sure to secure your day pass or campsite online before your trip as it hits capacity often in summer. See Frio Bat Flight at sunset. Make reservation for bats in advance. Tickets are $10-12. In summer House Pasture has great concerts. Cabins and small inns are available for rent including my favorite, Frio Country Resort right on the river.
Historic Missions and Outdoor Adventure
El Paso – Yselta, Socorro, and San Elizario are 3 of the oldest missions in Texas. Mission Trail is 9 miles long. Scenic Drive in Franklin Mountains has panoramic view of city and looking over to Mexico. Hueco Tanks State Park is world renowned for bouldering. Make reservation for the free guided tour to see the pictographs (painted rock art). Day trip to Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Can also do Carlsbad and White Sands. Base downtown. Hotel Indigo in downtown El Paso is where I stayed.
Grand Canyon of Texas and Route 66
Amarillo – Texas is home to the second largest canyon in the United States. Palo Duro State Park in the Panhandle is dubbed the “Grand Canyon of Texas.” It is 120 miles long, 20 miles wide, and is up to 800 feet deep. It runs from Canyon to Silverton. The drive down to the canyon floor has vista views. You descend through four geologic layers. The canyon walls are about 250 million years old. Look for hoodoos which are formations of a larger rock balanced on top of a smaller base. There are more than 30 miles of trails including the iconic Lighthouse Trail. That hike is about 5.5 miles roundtrip and you are fully exposed the entire time. Plenty of water and sunscreen are a must hiking in Palo Duro. Entrance is $8 for 13 and older or Texas State Parks annual pass. Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum is worth a stop too. Hike in Palo Duro in the morning then explore the Old West in a life-size Pioneer Town, learn about the petroleum industry, and learn about dinosaurs to conquistadors in the largest history museum in Texas. Route 66 is called the “Mother Road of America.” The Historic District in Amarillo is filled with restaurants, cafes, bars, art galleries and antique shops. Lake Meredith National Recreation Area, a guided toured at Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument, and Battle of the Adobe Walls.
Food, Culture and Outdoors
Santa Fe, NM – Explore the food and art scene in Santa Fe. Must eats are dinner at The Shed in a historic hacienda just off of the plaza. Have breakfast at Café Pasqual’s but get there early to beat the lines which form daily. Pop in the Santa Fe Oxygen and Healing Bar for an elixir and head over to the spa for healing treatment. In town, visit the Railroad on a Saturday morning to explore the farmer and artisan markets. See the miraculous staircase in the Loretto Chapel. Say a prayer in the Basilica and in Santuario de Guadalupe, the historic Catholic shrine dating back to the 1770s is the oldest church in the United Stated dedicated to our Lady of Guadalupe. Visit the Georgia O’Keeffe museum, explore the art galleries on Canyon Road, and shop the artisan wares at Palace of the Governors. For outdoor adventure head to Bandelier National Monument. The canyon and mesa landscape is home to petroglyphs and cliff dwellings of ancestral Puebloan people dating back over 11,000 years. There is shuttle access only May 16-October 16 from 9am to 3pm. There are over 70 miles of trails. Definitely do the 1.2-mile Main Loop from the Visitors Center in Frijoles Canyon to see the dwellings. If you are a little more adventurous add on the Alcove House Trail which includes four ladders up 140 feet. My favorite is the Tsankawi Trail in a section of the park that is 12 miles aways from the park’s main section. This 1.5-mile trail takes you to the top of the mesa where the village over 2,000 years old was, past cavates and petroglyphs and have tremendous vista views.
Train and Ancient Sites
Durango, CO – Go “all aboard” on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. The historic train runs from 45.2 miles between Durango and Silverton. Enjoy stunning mountain scenery then have lunch at the Grand Imperial Hotel in Silverton before heading back to Durango. Explore the culinary and shopping scene of Durango. Stay in the Rochester Hotel or historic Strater Hotel. Enjoy lunch or dinner at James Ranch. Head to McElmo Canyon for wine tasting at Sutcliffe Vineyards. Explore Mesa Verde, the first national park dedicated to the works of man. The Cliff Palace is a must see along the loop drive. My favorite hiking trail is Petroglyph Point Trail. Also see Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Chimney Rock National Monument, and Hovenweep National Monument for more sites of ancestral Puebloan people.