If you love to explore the great outdoors, then a Denver to Santa Fe road trip is perfect for you as you can go climbing, fishing, hiking, whitewater rafting, and much more at Colorado and New Mexico state parks. Your artistic side will come out when you visit one of the largest collections of American Western art in the United States with a stop at the A.R. Mitchell Museum of Western Art. If you adore history, you will love stopping at Pecos National Historical Park, the historical museums in Taos, and other locations along your route. Be sure to bring along your camera as the scenery is stunning along this road trip itinerary from Denver to Santa Fe.
Pecos National Historical Park
Get a different perspective on Pecos Valley history by visiting Pecos National Historical Park near Pecos, New Mexico. A great way to become acquainted with this area is to go on one of the guided hikes. Consider the short ancestorial hike to learn about the important cultural sites, tour the Battle of Glorieta Pass Civil War site, and go on the Forked Lightning Ranch Caravan tour to learn about raising livestock in the area. You can also find all of these places by following hiking trails that usually leave near the visitors center. The Pecos River is a fantastic place to go fishing, and this national park offers three dedicated fishing areas along it. Special events often occur at this park, including battlefield reenactments in March, Feast Day in August, and special winter holiday celebrations. Find a quiet spot and browse the national park guide to find other national parks nearby for future trips.
Castlewood Canyon State Park
Castlewood Canyon State Park near Franktown, Colorado, is a fantastic place to explore because of its rugged beauty. Combine shorter trails to make a hiking trail as long as you want. Along these trails, you will often see remnants of the Castlewood Dam that burst in 1933. Cherry Creek's banks at the canyon's bottom make a fantastic place to rest and look at the Colorado state park guide. Once back on top, enjoy a picnic lunch at the Bridge Canyon Overlook. While you need to climb during the right time of year to protect nesting raptors, this park has five climbing routes up the 60-foot canyon walls you will want to explore.
Mueller State Park
Mueller State Park near Divide, Colorado, is the perfect spot to watch wildlife, and you can often see black bears, elk, deer, and many small animals. Over 36 miles of bike paths, 44 miles of hiking paths, and 34 miles of horseback riding paths make it easy to get away from crowds. Enjoy solving a mystery by finding the hidden object at five geocache spots. Over 800 acres on the western side of this park are open for seasonal hunting. Stop at the visitors' center to see exhibits related to the park’s animals and ecology. This park is a fascinating place to visit in the winter because you can go sledding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and more.
Lake Pueblo State Park
If you love a water vacation, then Lake Pueblo State Park is a stop you will not want to pass by on your Denver to Santa Fe RV road trip. All types of boaters, including sailors and water-skiers, love playing on the lake. This lake is also a prime spot to go fishing for bass, crappie, trout, and catfish. In addition to the lake, several ponds in the park are great for fly fishing because of the river channel running through them. Below the Arkansas River Dam is a favorite spot to go whitewater rafting. Waterfowl hunters often head here from September to May. Visit the Rock Canyon Swim Beach to go swimming.
Sugarite Canyon State Park
Use the boat ramps and dock at Sugarite Canyon State Park near Raton, New Mexico, to put your boat in the water to go fishing for rainbow trout or to fish along the many miles of shoreline. The small lake is also a great place to go canoeing or kayaking, especially in the spring and fall, when you can see many types of vultures searching for their next meal. Hike along the tree-covered hills to see mule deer, bears, turkeys, and elk. Pick up a brochure in the visitors center and hike along the Coal Camp Interpretative Trail to learn more about the park's plants and animals. You can bow hunt for turkey, elk, and deer seasonally. The basalt cliff face rising about 50 feet in the air makes this a favorite spot to go climbing.
Cimarron Canyon State Park
Wildlife viewing is amazing at Cimarron Canyon State Park as it sits in the middle of Colin Neblett Wildlife Management Area, near Eagle Nest, New Mexico. You may want to head there in the spring to enjoy seeing elk calves as this is a popular birthing area. If you love to go fly-fishing for rainbow trout, then make sure this stop is on your road trip itinerary from Denver to Santa Fe. While you will have to ride in the wildlife management area, two horse corrals are available.
Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center
Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center near Colorado Springs, Colorado, offers many recreational activities. In 1878, General William Jackson Palmer purchased the land. His children gave it to the City of Colorado Springs with the agreement that no permanent structure, except for those necessary to care for this unique park, and no intoxicating liquor would ever be allowed. One of the most popular things to do at this park is to go rock climbing on the front range. A unique way to explore this park with its odd-shaped red rocks is on a Segway, jeep, or trolley tour. Hiking and biking trails are available at this park.
While you will pass several great places to go whitewater rafting on your road trip from Denver to Santa Fe, you will want to stop and visit Whitewater Park in Pueblo, Colorado, for sure. This downtown park offers eight drops that are approximately 0.5-miles long. One of the world’s largest murals located at the park's side will tell you about your different options, including the Grim Reaper, Marley, and Harpo.
A.R. Mitchell Museum of Western Art
If you adore Western art, you must stop at the A.R. Mitchell Museum of Western Art in Trinidad, Colorado. At this museum located inside a building built as a dry goods store in 1906, you will enjoy seeing the architectural details that have been left in place, including the pressed-tin ceiling, wooden floors, and horseshoe-shaped mezzanine. Most of the artwork on display is by Arthur Ray Mitchell, who created more than 160 Western pulp magazine covers and many other works.
E.L. Blumenschein Home and Museum
The community of Taos, New Mexico, is well known for its artistic vibe, and the man who got that started was E.L. Blumenschein. Tour the E.L. Blumenschein Home and Museum to see fabulous works by artists who belonged to the Taos Art Society during the first half of the 19th century.
Bandelier National Monument
The Pueblo people have lived on the 33,000 acres located in Bandelier National Monument near Los Alamos, New Mexico, for more than 11,000 years. Learn about them and hike on the paths around this vast wilderness by stopping here on your road trip from Denver to Santa Fe.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
The song "America the Beautiful" was inspired by a trip to the Colorado Springs area, and you will see it for yourself when you take some of the scenic drives near this community that is located a very short way from Pikes Peak. Colorado Springs campground options include Pikes Peak RV Park and Golden Eagle Campground. Goldfield RV Park and Bristlecone Lodge offer Colorado Springs RV dump stations.
Something exciting is often happening at the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk in Pueblo’s downtown area. You may also want to visit the Goodnight Barn and the Colorado Mental Health Institute Museum at Pueblo. Haggard’s RV Campground and Bighorn RV Park offer scenic campgrounds in Pueblo at low rates. Pueblo RV dump stations include Lake Pueblo State Park, Pueblo State Recreation Area and other nearby Colorado locations.
Taos, New Mexico
Taos Valley RV Park & Campground, Sierra Valley Lodge and RV Park and other Taos campgrounds offer outstanding amenities, so make your reservation in this thriving artistic city or check out the best campgrounds in New Mexico. RV dump stations in Taos are available at Coyote Creek State Park, Golden Eagle RV Park, and other nearby New Mexico communities. You may want to spend an extra day exploring this community because it offers so much to do, like visiting Taos Pueblo and the Rio Grande Gorge.
It is easy to see why "America the Beautiful" was written in this area with its breathtaking natural beauty. You will find many opportunities for outdoor recreational activities, and art lovers will find great places to explore. Put this RV road trip from Denver to Santa Fe on your itinerary. If you do not own an RV, consider renting one in Denver or Santa Fe.