As New Mexico celebrates its 100 birthday this year, road trips seem to be on my mind! I'm determined to discover and explore some unique areas of our beautiful state. I recently took a road trip east of Albuquerque intending to stop in Santa Rosa to see the famous Blue Hole Lake, but found myself not ready to stop, so I kept going and finally stopped in Tucumcari. After a quick lunch, and a study of my map, I decided to take the scenic byway at the Newkirk exit and take Highway 104 to Las Vegas.
I recently read the novel The Night Journal by Elizabeth Crook which Las Vegas and Pecos are the main setting, and decided I wanted to try and get a picture of the old Montezuma Castle Hotel that was originally built in 1886. It was completely refurbished in 2000 and 2001 to become a part of The United World College. The highway is a two-lane road and on this particular Saturday there were not very many cars to be seen. If not for the blacktop you could almost transport yourself back in time as it seemed not much has changed through the years. There are a sprinkling of small towns, ranches and farms, a couple of post offices and in the flat high plains area I saw a herd of antelope sunning themselves under the bright New Mexico sun. I spied hawks riding the thermals looking for a meal, rock formations that looked like something from another planet and gorgeous fields of wildflowers. After arriving in Las Vegas, I drove around taking in the flavor of the city, looking at the old houses, the University and the historic Plaza. Time had slipped away and I was not able to make it to the Montezuma for my picture and had to head back to Albuquerque.
I encourage you to try out this scenic road, or any of the other scenic highways of New Mexico. Get in your car, take some snacks, lots of water, a phone and a map and check out some unique areas of the Land of Enchantment!
Here are some guidebooks that are available for checkout: