The city of Albuquerque, New Mexico’s largest, makes a great base of operations for an exploration of western and northwestern New Mexico, as well as eastern Arizona. It is a large city, but its Old Town is surprisingly compact and delightful to stroll.
In the Old Town, St Philip Neri Church epitomizes the early Spanish architecture of this region.
The Old Town is centered around the Main Square. The vintage American highway, Route 66, travels directly through Albuquerque on its way from Chicago to Los Angeles, and this city has preserved some of the classic landmarks from that care-free era.
Petrified Forest National Park is a reasonably short day excursion from Albuquerque. The park is famous for its petrified trees whose bark and trunk has been infused with minerals and turned to stone over thousands of years.
Another popular section of the park is known as the Painted Desert, because of the colored layers of sandstone exposed by the winds.
Another popular excursion from Albuquerque features ruins from a large Native American settlement whose people left or disappeared hundreds of years ago. Chaco Culture National Historic Site preserves the remains of a once-flourishing city..