New Mexico September 30, 2016
9 Places In New Mexico Way Out In The Boonies But So Worth The Drive
Sometimes you feel the need to get away from it all. But before you head out into the middle of nowhere, you want to ensure that your destination will deliver. Thankfully, there are plenty of remote yet awesome places in New Mexico. Here are nine of them:
1. Russell’s Truck and Travel Center, Glenrio
Stopping here is a great way to break up a long drive. While a travel center is usually just a pit stop rather than a destination in its own right, this is far more than a truck stop. Tour the on site vintage car museum, which features pristine classic cars. Then grab a bite at Russell’s Route 66 Diner. Added bonus: the museum is free.
Russell’s Truck and Travel Center is off a remote stretch of I-40, 39 miles east of Tucumcari, near the Texas border.
Address: 1583 Frontage Road 4132, Glen Rio (exit 369 off I-40).
2. Chaco Culture National Historic Park, Nageezi
One of New Mexico’s biggest cultural attractions is also one of its most remote. To reach this UNESCO World Heritage Site, you have to bump along 24 miles of washboarded roads from the nearest town - Nageezi (population 286).
You’re rewarded with the chance to explore ruins that date back to between 1100-1300 A.D. At its zenith, Chaco was composed of 600 rooms, standing four stories high, and the site boasted 40 kivas.
3. Sitting Bull Falls, near Queen
In an out-of-the-way section of the Lincoln National Forest, a 150-foot high waterfall gushes over mossy rocks before plunging into a pool. The drive out here takes some time but it’s totally worth it to take a dip in a spring-fed pool underneath a waterfall.
Address: Eddy County Road 409, Carlsbad.
4. Gatherin' Place, Pie Town
Pie Town boasts 186 residents and, as the name suggests, a whole lot of pie. In fact, you have several options if you’d like to sample the dessert for which this town is known. Try the Gatherin’ Place, which is open every day from 7:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Begin your meal at with a bbq sandwich. The restaurant recently won an award for having the best bbq in Catron County - it's smoked with juniper cedar.
5. Clayton Lake State Park, near Clayton
Clayton Lake State Park is 13 miles outside of Clayton in Northeastern New Mexico. This state park may be off the beaten path for most of us, but 100 million years ago, it was a highly trafficked area… by dinosaurs. Stroll along the boardwalk to view a collection of more than 500 dinosaur footprints.
The park offers 26 developed campsites close to a 170-acre lake. If you do stay overnight, you can stargaze to your heart’s content – the park contains an International Dark Sky observatory.
6. La Viña Winery, La Union
Admittedly, La Viña Winery is out of the way rather than in the middle of nowhere. Aside from locals, few realize that you can schedule a tour of this winery by calling 575-882-7632 (tours run between 12:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. every day except Wednesday).
If your aim is to escape the confines of city rather than to avoid crowds, head down to the winery on October 15th or 16th to celebrate the Harvest Wine Festival. The $20 admission includes nine tastings and a free wine glass.
Address: 4201 South Highway 28, La Union.
7. Monastery of Christ in the Desert, near Abiquiu
People come to this Benedictine monastery in search of solitude and a chance to reflect.
The chapel’s architecture is captivating; the chief architect was George Nakashima who is hailed as one of the fathers of the American craft movement. The only thing more impressive than the chapel is its setting. Red rocks and slot canyons surround this slice of heaven on earth. Visitors of all faiths are welcome (weekdays from 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. and during the same hours on Sundays).
So how far off the beaten path is it? Let’s put it this way, the driveway consists of a 13-mile-long gravel road. It's accessible to all vehicles, providing the weather is good. (From Route 84, you take Forest service Road 151.)
8. Chiricahua Desert Museum, Rodeo
Most people have never heard of this museum, which is out in the boonies near the borders of both Arizona and Mexico. In addition to having a massive rattlesnake rattle, this museum provides information about desert flora and fauna. There is an extensive collection of live reptiles from tortoises to snakes and gila monsters, along with a small botanic garden.
Address: 4 Rattlesnake Canyon Road, Rodeo
9. El Morro RV Park and Cabins/Ancient Way Café, Ramah
In the tiny town of Ramah (population 370), literally in the middle of nowhere, you’ll find this new age complex. If you plan on exploring the equally isolated El Malpais National Monument, this makes for a great home base. The RV spots have full hook ups, tent camping is available, or you can rent one of the adorable little cabins.
The Ancient Way Café and Outpost is part of this complex. The restaurant is known for its breakfasts and the folks here make delicious baked goods. Slow cooked dinners are available on Friday and Saturday nights.
Have you made it out to any of these remote spots?
New Mexico’s small towns offer
amazing restaurants, unexpected attractions, and sometimes just a little peace and quiet.
Where do you go for a little R&R?