The new New Mexico is much like the old; it’s a place where time and space cease to exist, and a place where I often go to rediscover myself. It isn’t my favorite place to explore just because I so happen to be from the Land of Enchantment, but because it’s truly magical. Now, Santa Fe and Taos garner much of the tourist attention, rightfully so, but there are hidden treasures around every corner of this rugged landscape. For those seeking adventure, consider southwestern New Mexico—the heart of this great state—where colors with no name light up the sky and earth tones sweep across the in-between.
For the Weekend Roadie: if you choose to fly into NM, may I suggest flying into Albuquerque and departing from El Paso, Texas, in order to gain the full experience.
2.5 hours from the Albuquerque airport, Pie Town should be your first destination. This self-proclaimed “Little Slice of Heaven,” lives up to its name. Kathy Knapp & Stan King (from Silver Creek Inn), have turned this little speed bump of a town into a spiritual awakening. Sink your teeth into sinfully sweet flavors that define New Mexican cuisine and are lovingly baked into each scrumptious pie. But, the real crown jewel inside the pie case is definitely the green chili pie. So, don’t forget to try a slice. Afterward, walk off those worthy calories with a stroll around the on-site gallery. And please remember to call ahead, because once you enter New Mexico you’re in the mañana time zone.
After Pie Town, hop into the DeLorean, Marty McFly it’s time to transport yourself to Glenwood. In the middle of nowhere, this small general store and café is one blink away from being missed completely. Off of Highway 180, this one-stop shop and grill offers everything from paper towels to the best “chile relleno burritos you’ve ever done tried,” boasts one of the town’s 25 residents. It’s the main gathering place for locals and the occasional passer-through who is fortunate enough to stop. And you might just want to load up on all of your little necessities here, because the next stop on your great southwest itinerary is Mogollon, a town with 10 less folks than Glenwood.
Just 9 miles up and over the winding pass from Alma Store and Grill, Mogollon is a living ghost town tucked between the dark, forest valley below. The warm whispering breeze begs for this tiny town to be rediscovered, but don’t make the mistake of traveling down this haunted pass after sunset. Once a booming mining town, Mogollon is now known for its many ghosts wandering the town after dark. From the courtyard at night, listen to the sounds generating from the town folk strumming their guitars and discussing the likes of Foucault and local artist-legend Bill Rakocy. The Silver Creek Inn is owned by Pie Town’s Stan King, and maintained by Mogollon expert Sue Lingo, one of the most interesting people that I’ve ever encountered. In the morning, take a hike up to Mineral Creek Box and pass the giant carved crypt of one of Mogollon’s most infamous ghosts, while Sue prepares a wonderful Mogollon breakfast.
* In September 2013, Mogollon was hit-hard with flooding. Unfortunately the only road into town was wiped out. We recommend traveling to Mogollon in 2014.
The city’s museum is part rich-in-history, part grandma’s closet—a real seeker’s paradise. Throw on a pink boa and head straight to the back room, where you’ll find the wackiest, most beautifully handcrafted treasures created for the Stars Over New Mexico show produced by the Southwest New Mexico Quilters Guild. The museum opened in 1967, and is home to more than 200,000 objects from the New Mexico Southwest.
To see the largest collection of prehistoric Mimbres Mogollon artifacts in the world, head over to the WNMU’s Museum. The iron-based mineral paint on the ancient pottery looks as vibrant as the day the Yucca brush made its first stroke. It’s a wonder how these delicate objects have survived so many generations. Look for the kill holes carved into many of the bowls. During the site excavations, these bowls were often found over or near the skulls of the buried remains. It’s believed that these kill holes were thought to be a passageway to the afterlife.
Gallery 400 is a whimsical retreat in the middle of historic downtown Silver City. This cozy home-away-from-home just might convince you to extend your stay. The family owned and operated inn can be booked online, unlike most places throughout the area. And it scores an A for its unique character and amenities, but the real cherry on top is owner Amanda’s Petite Boutique. This fairy princess wonderland of couture and stuffed animals is every little girl’s dream. Her handmade apparel is filled with one-of-a-kind creations, perfect for any pint-sized fashionista.
Drifters Motel is the place to mingle with real Silver City folk, eat real Silver City food, and all at real Silver City low prices. From Churchgoers to goth teens and everything in between, this is a must-do. Eat to your heart’s content for under $10 per person.
On Broadway Boulevard in Silver City, New Mexico
You can’t go wrong shopping on Broadway and I’m not talking about Times Square. I’m actually talking about the rare treasures just waiting to be discovered. Shop after shop line both sides of the street. Take a stroll and snatch up some fabulous finds.
Don’t leave Silver City without a whole Alotta Gelato. Mitch, the owner could run for mayor, but this east coast transplant loves his sweet new profession. Try some of the seasonal favorites like pumpkin pie and peppermint stick. This delightful parlor is open 7 days a week from 12-10pm.
Vicki’s Eatery in Silver City, New Mexico (575) 388-5430
Stay at Gallery 400 and get a voucher for a deliciously healthy meal at Vicky’s Eatery. It’s just one block away from the inn and is proof that comfort food can be healthy, while still maintaining its mouth-watering flavor. There’s something for everyone on the menu and the presentation and service are just as great as the food.
The small café is home to the eclectic and philosophical, but most importantly, the Ristretto Shot. As my dear friend David claims, “You’ll be able to see the future.” This little jolt of clarity is organic and “crap-free,” notes the barista—yum, my favorite!
A one-mile hike up from the base of the cliff, the dwellings are believed to be a hunting camp of the Mogollon people from 1275-1300 AD. The dwellings consist of 46 rooms throughout 5 caves. Though, it’s not known why these people left, some Native American experts believe that migrations were often inspired by beliefs and climate changes. And much like the old adobe homes still seen throughout the region, the Gila Cliff Dwellings were also formed from mud, stone, and mortar. The small handprints entombed on the walls remind visitors of another time and people that once walked this earth.
This majestic site in the middle of the vast desert terrain is New Mexico’s version of Stonehenge. But, these enormously placed boulders were fist-poured by God. Here the earth dances in the wind and the hushing sounds are a lullaby for the soul.
Now, it wouldn’t be a trip to New Mexico without finding a true spiritual oasis. Take a dip in the healing waters that have soothed its people for centuries. The natural hot springs are surrounded by some of the elements found within the area, creating a raw ambiance almost as if you stumbled upon its existence. The intimate resort is off the beaten path, twenty minutes outside of Silver City and just a few miles from the City of Rocks State Park. You can book a cabin, hook up your RV, pitch a tent, or just come and relax for a few hours. Day passes are $20 for adults and $15 for children. What a great way to rejuvenate and prepare for life’s chaos once again.