From legendary ghost towns and saloons to charmingly eccentric art galleries and studios, the attractions along the Turquoise Trail will ensure that your visit to Santa Fe and surrounding areas is an authentic one. A journey along the scenic trail is the quintessential Santa Fe day trip; it’s a chance to get in touch with the remarkable history and spirituality of the Native American people, adventurous miners and explorers. The trail extends for about 60 miles along State Highway 14 and passes alongside numerous old Wild West mining towns, who in their glory days, extracted gold, silver, zinc, and coal, not to mention turquoise.
The stunning landscapes, Spanish colonial architecture and local population dense with artists and writers, it’s no wonder Santa Fe was ranked second for “Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker” in North America and Canada in the Best Small Towns and Cities category by MovieMaker Magazine. Numerous TV shows and movies have been shot on the trail, including the hugely popular series Longmire, which features scenes in the Cerrillos and Madrid area, the film, “True Grit” which shot segments in the region, and “Wild Hogs”which spawned the still popular Maggie’s Diner in Madrid.
Nestled in a narrow canyon 23 miles south of Santa Fe is the funky, bustling village of Madrid. The town has had many different lives, from its first Pueblo inhabitants who extracted turquoise and lead from the hills, to Spaniards who later uncovered gold and silver, to the subsequent discovery of coal that fueled the Santa Fe Railroad. The demise of the coal industry left Madrid deserted for some time, but in the 1970’s the town was reborn as a haven for free spirits. Old storefronts and miners’ quarters were restored into charming shops, art galleries and bed & breakfasts.
The art and music scene of the village is certainly not to be missed. For a vintage Madrid experience check out Cowgirl Red for Western art, antiques and plenty of turquoise. If you’re looking for gemstones, crystals, minerals and more look no further than The Great Madrid Gift Emporium & Maggie’s Diner Gift Shop for an exotic collection of rare gems. Grab a pick-me-up from Java Junction, which offers fabulous coffees, espresso drinks and juices or head over to The Mine Shaft Tavern, a rugged saloon that serves a heavenly green chile cheeseburger. Another great dining spot in Madrid is The Hollar, located directly across from the Mine Shaft Tavern. The establishment serves excellently crafted dishes cooked in a variety of ways; from New Orleans-style shrimp and grits to New Mexican classics like chile rellenos.
The charming mining town of Cerrillos was of great importance through history in attracting Spaniards to settle in Central New Mexico. The mines that dot the landscape of the Cerrillos hills are some of the oldest in the state and in fact, turquoise is currently still being mined from several private plots. The old mining equipment that lines the dusty streets give the town a picturesque reminiscence of the old Wild West. If you’re in for a nighttime excursion schedule an appointment at Astronomy Adventures to experience the grandeur of the pristine night sky filled with thousands of bright twinkling stars.
At the southernmost tip of the Turquoise Trail sits Edgewood which, as its name suggests, is situated where the wooded foothills of the Sandia mountain range meet the grasslands. The funneling of traffic from Route 66 spurred travel through the town, which began catering to passers-by. Be sure to check out the Wildlife West Nature Park, a local nonprofit animal sanctuary that rescues native animals and teaches people about the species that call New Mexico home. Take a leisurely stroll through the grounds and get up close and personal with coyotes, owls, foxes, hawks and more. The nature park also hosts weekend events in the warmer months.
Start planning your Turquoise Trail and Santa Fe adventure by ordering the 2017 Santa Fe Travel Guide. Be sure to check out our Deals and Specials page, which includes special offers on lodging, meals and shopping.