What do you have in mind for your next vacation? Mountain scenery? Art galleries and museums? Skiing? Hunting or hiking? Native American cultures? The American West? You can do it all, or as much as you want, in one visit to northern New Mexico.
Head north out of Albuquerque to historic Santa Fe — http://www.santafe.com/ — home of the early Spanish seat of government, the Palace of the Governors — http://www.palaceofthegovernors.org/ — which anchors one side of the downtown Plaza. To learn about other local attractions, you'll have to navigate a set of dropdown menus, but you'll be rewarded with details on life around the Plaza, the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum and more. Look in the "Museums" menu for a section on the rich local history. And you'll need to explore the "Lodging" section.
There's a slick map of the city at Santa Fe Visitors Information — http://santafe.org/ — plus a "Visiting Santa Fe" section with more details on galleries, culture, dining and recreation.
But don't spend all of your time in the city. Click on "Driving Tours" at North Central New Mexico — http://www.newmexiconorth.com/ — for a collection of road trips like the High Road to Taos that takes you through the artist settlements in the Espanola Valley, or No. 3, the Enchanted Circle, through forests and resort communities. Information on the area's historic pueblos is hidden in fine print down in the lower right corner of the page, along with links to community Web sites including Chama, elevation 8,000 feet, and Red River, a mountain town with year-round activities. One of the best known of the pueblos is Taos Pueblo — http://www.taospueblo.com/visiting.php — "continuously inhabited for 1,000 years."
A big attraction at Chama is the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad — http://www.cumbrestoltec.com/ — a 64-mile scenic excursion through the mountains along both sides of the New Mexico-Colorado state line.
Visit towns such as Angel Fire and Eagle Nest in Northeast New Mexico — http://www.northeastnm.com/ — where "Community Profiles" also has the basics on Des Moines (a ranch town, not the city in Iowa) and Espanola, founded in 1598 as the first capital of New Mexico. You have to go to the separate "Links" page to find the towns' Web sites, some of which are dead ends or just very slow to load. But try the photo collection and the map.
One of the towns in Northeast New Mexico is Tucumcari, a popular resting point on Interstate 40 that also served that function on the older U.S. 66. That highway was decommissioned when the interstates took its place, but the New Mexico Route 66 Association — http://www.rt66nm.org/tourism.html — has maps and photos to help you explore points along the old thoroughfare.
New Mexico sits astride the southern end of the Rocky Mountains, and a good place to enjoy the scenery is the Carson National Forest — http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/carson/ — with peaks up to 13,000 feet high. Click on "Recreational Activities" for details on seeing the area's fall colors, camping, fishing for native Rio Grande cutthroat trout, and a list of trails. There's more to see and do in the Santa Fe National Forest — http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/sfe/ — where "Recreational Activities" includes details on two Scenic and Historic Byways through the area, including the Jemez Mountain Trail, plus links to ski areas.
Considering a winter trip? Type "ski" into the search window at the state tourism Department — http://www.newmexico.org/ — for guides to ski areas in the northern mountains. Then open up the "Explore New Mexico" menu for other attractions and destinations, and "Outdoor Adventure, Hunting & Sports."