New Mexico Road Trip Part 1: Santa Fe and Sante Fe Skies

The RV Atlas Podcast
New Mexico Road Trip Part 1: Santa Fe and Sante Fe Skies

If your dream vacation includes a mix of natural landscapes and cool towns to explore, New Mexico has you covered. This underrated camping destination is packed with unique destinations. Santa Fe is one of those storied towns, known for its arts, history, and culture–and the adobe architecture–all with mountain views and a national forest nearby. Read on to find out what to see, where to camp, (we loved Sante Fe Skies) and where to eat when planning a trip to Santa Fe.

We had previously visited Santa Fe in 2015 for two days, and we always wanted to return to the region to visit Taos. On this visit, we spent two days in Santa Fe and five days in Taos. Even with that time, we didn’t get to see and do nearly everything Santa Fe has to offer. But, we did, again, appreciate the city’s beauty and charm.

This is a guest post by Kerri Cox from Travels with Birdy. To listen to Jeremy and Kerri talk about Santa Fe and to hear a campground review of Santa Fe Skies, click on the media player above–or listen to the RV Atlas wherever you get your favorite podcasts.

What to See in Santa Fe

Santa Fe PlazaLocated at the heart of downtown, the Plaza offers shopping, restaurants, galleries, and museums. You might find live music, food trucks, and more in this lively spot. The historic Palace of Governors is a must see, built in 1610. Native American artisans sell jewelry and other crafts on the long patio. Plan a few hours to stroll and explore the many avenues of art.

Meow WolfThis immersive art experience opened its first location in Santa Fe in 2016. Over 100 artists contributed to the unique environment that allows open exploration—or attempt to solve the mystery, with clues hidden throughout the many rooms and habitats. It is weird and quirky and so much fun! Every turn has a totally different environment. You might even hop in a washing machine and slide to another dimension or crawl into a fireplace and find yourself in a new room! I especially love that this is a place teens and tweens can enjoy with parents, which is a rare find. Other locations have opened in Denver (which we also visited!) and Las Vegas, and one is coming to Texas.

Georgia O’Keeffe Museum: Georgia O’Keeffe is one of those artists whose legacies is really tied to a place. She lived between Santa Fe and Taos for decade, growing inspiration from the landscapes for some of her most famous works. On the Plaze, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum tells her story and showcases some of her works. The short film is a must see. Tours are also available of her two homes.

What to See Outside of Santa Fe

Ghost Ranch: One of O’Keeffe’s homes was at Ghost Ranch. Though the NM landscapes are beautiful in general, Ghost Ranch has an extra burst of beauty, with some unique rock formations and hills similar to the Badlands. We did the guided tour with the extended sketching time, which allowed for independent exploration. We spent a hour of hours walking around, painting and taking pictures. It was nice to have an outdoorsy experience different from our traditional national parks visits.

Turquoise TrailThis scenic byway connects Santa Fe and Albuquerque. It passes through some mining towns and by quirky roadside stops and has great views of the Sandia Crest. Don’t just drive…make time for stops to explore the scenery and shops. When traveling with our kids, we had so much fun at Connie’s Photo Park, which has fun photo ops near Madrid, NM.

Where to Stay in Santa Fe

Through we had stayed at the Santa Fe KOA on a previous trip and enjoyed it, this time, we opted for Santa Fe Skies.

Santa Fe Skies Park Features:

  • Approximately 15 minutes from downtown
  • Located on a ridge overlooking the town and the surrounding mountains — very beautiful!
  • Most sites are full hookups
  • Sites have concrete patios with tables and chairs (We had site I-6, which actually had TWO patios and amazing views)
  • Cost is approximately $70-75
  • Onsite walking trail goes past tons of sculptures and interesting antique tractors and trucks
  • Well maintained
  • Nice patio with live entertainment regularly
  • Park brochure has tons of recs for restaurants (listen to the locals!)

We loved this campground a lot, partially because we just might have had the best campsite in the park! It felt like we had a personal front-row show for the sunset. It’s literally in the park’s name. Even if you don’t get our same campsite, most also have views. I really liked the back-in sites near the patio since they seemed well spaces. This park is not as kid oriented, but kids can enjoy the trail and displays. The KOA where we stayed previously has family activities and more shade. But, the views from Santa Fe Skies make it a special spot to stay!

This is a guest post by Kerri Cox from Travels with Birdy. To hear Kerri’s full campground review of Santa Fe Skies, click on the media player above–or listen to the RV Atlas wherever you get your favorite podcasts.

Where to Eat 

You have to eat some New Mexican cuisine while in Santa Fe! The region is known for its food. Here are a couple of places we enjoyed:

  • El Parasol:  You’ll find several El Parasol locations in Santa Fe and beyond. It offers fast, cheap Mexican staples with a simple menu. The location near Santa Fe Skies didn’t even have seating, but we didn’t care! We gulped down our tacos and tamales in the parking lot. The next day, we stopped at the Espanola location on our way to Taos for more. Everything we ate was seriously good!
  • Mac Santa Fe: Located right on the Plaza, this spot also has a simple menu, focused on mac and cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches. We got the basic mac and cheese, and it did not disappoint. It was rich and creamy, without being too much. We topped our meal off with some of the candied bacon, which is covered in cinnamon, red chile, and brown sugar. So so good!


Check out New Mexico Road Trip Part 2 to hear all about Taos!

For more about planning a terrific road trip to New Mexico, check out our previous posts on Albuquerque, the Albuquerque KOA, Enchanted Trails RV Park, and Carlsbad Caverns, a popular national park destination.



The RV Atlas Podcast
New Mexico Road Trip Part 1: Santa Fe and Sante Fe Skies

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