If you need some solitude, then consider a Santa Fe to Telluride road trip. There are many national forests where you can find miles of trails to hike. Stop and visit historical parks along the way to learn the stories of great men and women throughout history who called this remote wilderness home. Durango, Colorado, with its 19,000 residents, is the largest city you will pass through on your Santa Fe to Telluride RV road trip.
A great way to see the country and learn more about its history is to visit one of the many national parks spread across the United States.
Pecos National Historical Park
Start your trip by going south about 30 miles to visit Pecos National Historical Park in Pecos, New Mexico. Join rangers on one or more of their guided tours. Some tours explore the role that Glorieta Pass played during the Civil War while others let you see the ranch that once belonged to Hollywood actress Greer Garson. Take a hike along the Ancestral Trail to see an ancient pueblo and mission church built about in 1717. Reserve your space to go fishing on the Pecos River.
Manhattan Project National Historical Park
Once you reach Pojoaque, New Mexico, turn west and go about 17 miles to reach nearby Manhattan Project National Historical Park. You cannot currently visit the location where the Manhattan Project happened but you can learn a lot about the site by taking the walking tour in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Visit 13 different sites related to the development of the world's first atomic bomb and see where the first atomic device was assembled, the building housing the electric generator that powered the project, and the mess hall. Learn more about the community's role by stopping at the Bradbury Science Museum and the Los Alamos History Museum.
Chaco Culture National Historical Park
Chaco Culture National Historical Park at Nageezi, New Mexico, was considered the center of the universe by thousands of people between 850 and 1250 A.D. Visit the remains of the Great House and see the petroglyphs by following the 1-mile trail leaving from the northeast corner of the visitors center. Drive or bike along the 9-mile loop scenic trail to see the Hungo Pavi and Chetro Ketl great houses that contained over 150 rooms. You will also want to visit Pueblo Bonito and Pueblo del Arroyo, which are among the most celebrated Chaco cultural sites in Chaco Canyon. Then, venture on down the drive and stop at Casa Rinconada to see what a smaller village would have looked like around 1000 A.D. in this location. Note that while these sites are near the park road, you may still need to take short hikes to reach them. Head to the visitor's center at the observatory to watch one of their night sky programs and understand the stars' role in the Chaco culture.
Morphy Lake State Park
Morphy Lake State Park near Mora, New Mexico, lies hidden within the Pecos Wilderness. When you reach Espanola, New Mexico, on your road trip from Santa Fe to Telluride, head east about 71 miles to get to this park in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The 50-acre lake in this park is an awesome place to go boating, floating, and canoeing. Anglers regularly catch rainbow trout, kokanee salmon, and German trout. This location is also a terrific place to go birdwatching. Wander along paths through the pine forest for some solitude.
Heron Lake State Park
Located 12 miles west of Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico, put Heron Lake State Park on your RV road trip from Santa Fe to Telluride. A marina with a boat dock makes it easy to explore the no-wake lake created by Heron Dam. This park is a beautiful place to go sailing and canoeing and is a favorite of anglers, who often catch rainbow trout and kokanee salmon throughout the year. Hikers and bikers love exploring the 7 miles of trails with many choices running around the lake. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are favorite wintertime activities at this location.
Navajo Lake State Park
Located 47 miles south of Durango, Colorado, New Mexico’s Navajo Lake State Park is a fascinating place to explore. The 15,000-surface-acre lake is the second-largest in New Mexico, and it is popular with many boaters, water-skiers, and sailors. Various boat rentals are available. Consider hiring a guide to show you the secret fishing spots on this lake, or fish from the shoreline or a boat for trout, bass, catfish, and crappie. This park's mesas and canyons are a great spot to go hiking and mountain biking.
Mancos State Park
Stop at Mancos State Park near Mancos, Colorado, to play on the Jackson Gulch Reservoir. Anglers often catch their limit of rainbow trout and yellow perch. Go on one of the guided birdwatching tours in the summer. Mountain bikers love the single-track trails at this park. Hikers and horseback riders find many trails in this park to explore. Some connect to longer trails in the San Juan National Forest. Part of the Denver-to-Durango trail runs through this park. Once the snow falls, the area around the boat ramp is a terrific place to go sledding.
Lone Mesa State Park
When you would normally turn right on Colorado 145 north of Delores, Colorado, consider going straight on Forest Service Road 526 for about 12 miles to reach Lone Mesa State Park. This remote spot is a fantastic place to go wildlife viewing for elk, deer, and black bears throughout the year. If you would like to go hunting, then you need to enter your name in a lottery as more people want to go than there are spaces available. Keep in mind that hunting is only allowed seasonally.
Carson National Forest
Head north about 30 miles at Abiquiu, New Mexico, to reach the 1.5-million-acre Carson National Forest. Several scenic drives are available, including ones through the Taos Ski Valley. Hop aboard the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad to explore the area from a luxury train car. Many short hikes are available, but you can also find multi-day backpacking adventures. There are over 15 lakes and ponds to fish in or fish in the many streams and rivers. Many opportunities to go fishing exist near campgrounds, like La Sombra, Capulin, Santa Barbara, and Cimarron. Much of this national forest is open for seasonal hunting.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument near Cortez, Colorado, covers over 176,000 acres. Stop at the visitor's center 3 miles west of Delores to explore this location. The museum at this site contains artifacts, allowing you to learn more about the Ancestral Puebloan, Native American, and historic cultures in the Four Corners region. There are over 6,000 identified archeological sites within this monument.
Durango Hatchery and Wildlife Museum
Learn how Colorado raises over 1.3 million fish, including many species of trout, for stocking ponds and rivers by stopping at the Durango Hatchery and Wildlife Museum. Help feed the trout and stroll through the museum to see various taxidermied animals.
Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad & Museum
The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad & Museum runs 1880s trains from Durango to Silverton, Colorado, and back. The track running through the San Juan National Forest allows you to view areas of the forest only accessible by long hikes. This venue often hosts special events, like the Polar Bear Express in December.
San Juan National Forest
Covering over 1.8 million acres near Durango, Colorado, the San Juan National Forest offers many recreational opportunities. There are great hiking and mountain biking opportunities in the Durango and Pagosa areas. Sport and alpine climbing opportunities are abundant and native cutthroat trout fishing is terrific. Seasonally and with the proper permits, you can hunt mule deer, elk, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, moose, black bears, and mountain lions at this location. The 65-mile Alpine Loop Backcountry Byway is a fantastic place to go off-roading. Many cultural sites are also available to tour.
Los Alamos, New Mexico
Consider campgrounds in Los Alamos when looking for a place to spend the night, including Main Gate RV Park and White Rock Visitors Center RV Park. Since you are only about 25 miles from Santa Fe campgrounds, there may also be an option there. RV dump stations in Los Alamos include Riana Campground, San Felipe Travel Center, and other locations on your road trip from Santa Fe to Telluride.
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Pagosa Riverside Campground and Mountain Landing Suites and RV Park are a couple of campgrounds to consider in Pagosa Springs. You may also want to consider staying in other Western Slope campgrounds. RV dump stations in Pagosa Springs are available at Blanco River RV Park & Resort, Cool Pines RV Park, and other Colorado locations.
Find Durango campgrounds at Bayfield Riverside RV Park, Alpen Rose RV Park, and Westerly RV Park. Durango RV dump station locations include Durango KOA Campground, Echo Basin Ranch, and United Campground.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Santa Fe to Telluride, you will enjoy historic locations and beautiful scenery along the way. If you want to travel in comfort and style, consider an RV rental from RVshare. From large motorhomes to compact campervans, there is a rig that will meet your travel and budget needs. Once you hit the road, you are protected by our renter guarantee and 24/7 roadside assistance. Find the perfect vehicle for your travel needs in Santa Fe or Telluride.