Pecos and Villanueva
Santa Fe backs up against the vast Pecos Wilderness Area, the second-largest nature reserve in the state (after the Gila, in the southwest of the state), 223,000 acres of high country where the mountain streams seethe with trout and elk ramble through emerald-green meadows.
The former logging town of Pecos, where mountain men now rub shoulders with alternative healers and monks, is the jumping-off point for any trip into the woods. (While you’re there, check out San Antonio de Padua Church, another Gothic-style project by Bishop Lamy.)
To reach the village, head east along I-25 to Glorieta (Exit 299) and Highway 50; or there’s an alternate route via Highway 63 (Exit 307), which passes the ruins of Pecos Pueblo, the regional power before the Spanish arrived. Villanueva, a small village near a gem of a state park, is 14 miles farther on I-25, then 10 miles south.
On the drive out, near Exit 295, you pass the site of the westernmost Civil War battle in the United States. The Battle of Glorieta Pass raged March 26–28, 1862, part of a Confederate plan to invade the West with a force of Texans—a plan that was foiled in this decisive rout. Look for annual reenactments of the fight.
© Zora O'Neill from Moon Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque, 2nd edition