In every direction from the city, you’ll find some great natural attractions. To the west lies Acoma Pueblo, an ancient pueblo that seems to have grown out of the tall, windswept mesa on which it’s built, and the dramatic, wide-open scenery out this way is the stuff of movie backdrops.
A winding road through the mountains southeast of town brings you past the ruined Salinas pueblo missions—an intriguing bit of early conquest history and little visited.
South along I-40, the Rio Grande continues through its fertile valley to the Bosque del Apache, a lush network of marshlands maintained for migrating birdlife; the drive down is a long one, but you can make a day of it with stops at out-of-the-way eateries and a scenic dirt-road route back.
An equally scenic route north is the more circuitous Jemez Mountain Trail, past red rocks and hot springs. Or you can zip directly up the main highway, where you’ll pass another remarkable bit of scenery, the windswept region known as Tent Rocks.
© Zora O'Neill from Moon Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque, 2nd edition