Solo Travel in New Mexico
New Mexico is an interesting and safe region for women travelling solo. Not only has it got a quirky character but it offers culture and music too. The only problems you may face is acclimatising to the climate and the height, or being spooked in one of the ghost towns.
About New Mexico
As your journey begins in New Mexico, signs welcoming you to “The Land of Enchantment” accompanied by chile peppers, lead the way. It’s almost as if you feel instant refreshment upon being in this delightful place. When planning a holiday to the US, a road trip is our top recommendation, and New Mexico should absolutely be on your list. There are options for public transport; however, renting a car is the best way to experience all that this region is waiting to show you.
New Mexico is located in the southwest/western region of the United States, offering a unique and relaxing stop while visiting its neighbouring states. From picturesque mountainous landscapes, to hot springs, rivers, forests, and deserts, yet also city life, this state has it covered. Its Native American, Spanish and Mexican influences offer an incomparable place to dive in and get cultured.
One huge attraction in New Mexico is the number of ghost towns. Home to more than 400 ghost towns, many of which were former mining towns which mysteriously vanished. It’s also said that the wine industry here is older than in California and the best places to visit the wineries are in the Northern and Central regions.
If traveling by car and starting in northern New Mexico, take a ride through the Enchanted Circle, a 83 mile scenic byway along mountainous views, valleys, mesas, and national forests. The highest point in New Mexico is Wheeler Peak, which the bypass is carved around. You can find seven communities along the bypass: Taos, Angel Fire, Eagle Nest, Red River, Taos Ski Valley and Questa. In the winter there are opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, tubing, snowmobile tours, and in the summer, the areas offer golf, rafting, horseback riding, hiking, and camping.
Make your way over to Taos and its surrounding areas. Arroyo Seco is a beautiful little village just seven miles north of Taos. The village is lined with small shops and eateries, and offers the most stunning view of stars in the evening. This is where you'll find Black Rock Hot Springs, a short walk from John Dunn Bridge, where you can bask in the beauty of their mineral pools and cover yourself in mud for an organic beauty treatment.
The Earthship Biotecture in Taos is a must see. Here you can experience sustainable living and visit their demonstration Earthship made from natural and recycled materials. Admission is only $7 and it is literally ‘out of this world.' Along your way back to the main center of Taos, it's worth a stop to admire the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge and the street vendors selling crystals, arts and stone. If you are interested in Native American history, enjoy a tour of Taos Pueblo, with adobe structures said to be over one thousand years old. In Taos’ Historic District you will find museums, fine art galleries and studios, jewellery, clothing shops, and restaurants.
Heading south to Santa Fe, stop at Santuario de Chimayo. This Roman Catholic Church, which appears to be in the middle of nowhere, is a part of New Mexico you won’t want to pass up. Once in Santa Fe, the state’s capital, check out the historical center and plaza area. Named by UNESCO as one of the nine “Creative Cities” in the world, the city is oozing with beauty and art. From galleries and museums to great shopping and dining, this vibrant city has activities to keep you busy for a few days.
Drive down scenic and homey Canyon Road, which is now filled with art galleries and studios, which used to be an old trading route. Head over to the Santa Fe Railyard which is Santa Fe’s proud new district including a plaza and pedestrian promenade. Here you will find a farmers market on Tuesdays (be sure to check if it is running when you are visiting), full of roasted chile peppers, veggies, fruits, crafts, herbs, breads, and much more, along with artists displaying their work for sale. If you didn’t get your spa fix in Taos, spend the day unwinding at Ten Thousand Waves.
The metropolis of Albuquerque, differs from Taos and Santa Fe with its high rise buildings. Although this is a thriving city in New Mexico, home to some major high-tech research facilities, there are still attributes that link Albuquerque to its past – one being the Petroglyph National Monument, ancient rock carvings, and also Old Town Albuquerque, about ten blocks of original adobe buildings filled with restaurants, stores, and art galleries. Historic Route 66, which is now Central Avenue, is the main strip guiding you throughout the city, from the chic Nob Hill area, to the Biological Park with four different attractions: the Albuquerque Aquarium, the Rio Grande Botanical Garden, the Rio Grande Zoo, and Tingley Beach.
Two hours Southwest of Albuquerque is another Pueblo worth visiting; the Acoma Pueblo, also called “Sky City”. The Acoma Pueblo has been crafted atop a 367-foot mesa, and has been called the “oldest continuous inhabited community in North America”. New Mexico is home to many National Monuments and Parks worth visiting, one being White Sands National Monument, 3.5 hours south of Albuquerque. Sand dunes glistening like snow, made from gypsum, have covered 275 square miles of desert ad are definitely a sight to see.
Chaco Culture is a National Historical Park to experience, with history dating back to the 800’s, where the Chacoan people lived for more than 300 years. Here you will find guided tours, hiking and biking trails and camping. This is located northwest of Alberquerque and Santa Fe.
Roswell, the city where the infamous alien incident occurred in 1947, is full of hokey alien paraphernalia, alien faced-lamp posts, and the International UFO Museum and Research Center.
Other places to visit are: Carlsbad Caverns National Park, two hours south of Roswell, decorated in limestone. With white sands, alien memorabilia and ancient rock carvings, New Mexico certainly is a land of enchantment.
There are few hostel options in New Mexico. If you plan on camping, make sure to check the weather.
Getting Around New Mexico
There is only good public transport between Albuquerque and Santa Fe so hiring a car is the best option to get around this scenic state. Choose Avis
From the Airport
From Albuquerque – Bus 350 is a free bus to Downtown but it doesn't run regularly. Bus 50 runs Monday to Friday 07.00 to 20.00 every 30 mins, Saturdays 10.00 to 19.00 every 70 minutes. A taxi cost $20 for the five mile journey.
From Santa Fe – Taxis cost $20 for the 15 minute ride.
How long do I need?
A week is plenty of time to explore this region.
Where can I go from here?
Las Vegas 1.5 hrs
Phoenix 1.5 hrs
Los Angeles 2 hrs
* All flying from Albuquerque
Travelling onwards (check visas before you travel)
New Mexico is surrounded by a vast variety of options for onward travel. From here you can easily head to Las Vegas, Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, and California. The 4 Corners Monument, which marks the quadripoint where Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah meet, is worth the quick photo, if driving in that direction. You may also choose to head south to Mexico (check visa information before travel).
- Can I drink the water? Yes
- Is tipping expected? Yes, 20% is pretty standard in the US.
- Fixed price or barter? Fixed price.
- Any ATMs? Yes.
- Which side of the road do they drive? Right.
- Good for vegetarians? Yes.
- Any seven wonders of the world? No.
*This is accurate at time of writing but we appreciate things can change. Please let us know if you experience anything otherwise. Thanks.
Capital of New Mexico – Santa Fe
Population – 2.1 million
Language spoken – English, Spanish and Navajo
Flying Time to New Mexico – 15+ hrs from London (non-direct)
Did you know? Albuquerque is known as the ‘ballooning capital of the world’ as it hosts the world’s largest hot air balloon festival each October.
Mind Body & Soul