Day 2-Capulin and Santa Fe
After a good sleep last night, I headed towards Capulin Volcano National Monument. It’s only 3 hours drive from Amarillo. Not a scenic location to take pictures but the symmetrical cone-shaped and above 8,000 ft elevated monument deserved a quick visit. The road to Capulin itself was beautiful. Wavy roads, farming lands and colorful farm houses along the route will make this 3 hours of drive very pleasant.
It was pretty warm in Amarillo but as soon as I reached the park, suddenly the temperature became soothing. May be due to the high elevation. I enjoyed the drive to the top of the monument through curvy road spirals around the volcano. One can drive till the top but due to limited parking space, I had to stop at the visitor parking area and wait for some space up there. The visitor center informed me via SMS once a space was available. As always, the folks at the visitor centers were extremely courteousness and helpful.
The view from the top is simply breathtaking. The panoramic view stretches couple of hundred miles and on a clear sky you can see the Rocky Mountain range.
There are mainly two hiking trails- one to the bottom to explore Capulins own Lava flow and other around the rim. The lower trail was very steep but it’s easily doable. What’s down there ? The remains of the old eruption that took place around 60,000 years ago, if that intrigues you.
Around 2 PM, I headed towards Santa Fe. Cloud hugging interstate 25 with distant mountain peeks was very refreshing.
I stopped for fuel and a coffee break. I was inside the store and then I heard that most disgusting sound that panics me most – hail storm. That’s probably the only thing that I hate in Texas and NM area. I had to rush to my car and somehow managed to squeeze in a half-car length shaded place with other cars. Only I know how I did this.
I was stuck there for 20 mins and was literally praying to God- please no more in this trip. Nothing happened to my car though. What a relief ! I don’t mind those hails on my head, but on my car- no way.
Anyways, I resumed my journey through the rains and clouds. As Santa Fe was getting closer, I was getting nervous because of the rain. I had only that evening planned for Santa Fe and rain could have ruined my plan completely.
Luckily the rain stopped and Santa Fe greeted me with sunshine and pleasant weather. Just after taking the exit from i-25, it suddenly became more colorful, vibrant and historic. The streets, the houses, the shops and almost everything along Old Santa Fe trail seemed to be celebrating their glory of the past. Together it was such a rejuvenating experience. It’s like a wormhole, takes you back to several hundred years.
The oldest house in the USA (below pic).
Parking is not easy in busy hours so I parked my car outside the main city area- Santa Fe Visitor Center. It’s big and conveniently located at the beginning of the Old Santa Fe trail. Then it becomes easier to just walk around the city. There were several restaurants along the trail which looked like some old houses. Out of curiosity, I sneaked into few of them, and they all looked quite intriguing. Retro ambiance, smell of the food and the crowd automatically pulls you in.
Almost all the restaurants there had a wait time- more than an hour ! So if you are planning on weekends, you better be there early. If you love pizza, Upper Crust Pizza is the place for you. Live music and great pizza will make your day for sure. There were several restaurants that I wanted to try out but I did not have enough time. So, I will have to visit Santa Fe again- more than once may be.
Places of Interest
- Walk along the Old Santa Fe Trail. It will take an hour or two but its worth.
- Loretto Chapel
- The Cathedral Basilica
- New Mexico State Capitol (the only round state capitol in the United States)
- The plaza- heart and soul of the city.
- Palace of the Governors
- San Miguel Chapel
- The oldest house
and many more
Check out some of my clicks.