With deep red canyons, pristine desserts and lofty mountains the beauty of the landscape beckons you. We have a cache of unique treasures in Sandoval County. Here will you find the pure architecture of the early Spanish Missions, the ancient cliff dwellings, organic adobe buildings. Whatever you are seeking follow the by ways.
There are 8 scenic routes in New Mexico designated as a National Scenic byway, an honor given to only 55 routes in the nation.
Jemez Mountain Trail
The Jemez Mountain Trail begins in the village of San Ysidro, the only surviving settlement of the original seven “Pueblos de los Jemez” formed under the Spanish crown. This 132-mile loop meanders through valleys, along rivers and through the mountains. It is a drive through a legacy of time and terrain connecting living ancient cultures, spectacular scenery of red cliffs, mesas with vermillion sheer cliffs cut into the blue sky and alpine peaks.
The 66-mile drive loops through the Santa Fe National forest to an expansive vista of Valles Caldera National Preserve, Fenton Lake State Park, San Pedro Parks Wilderness and there’s the side trips to Bandelier National Monument, Soda Dam, Gilman Tunnels, and the many hot springs in the area.
Corrales village is nestled in the Rio Grande Valley, the Sandia Mountains offer a majestic back drop to the east. This is a leisurely 6.7-mile drive through the historic district of Los Corrales de Alameda. The slow curves take you through farmlands of cottonwoods, vineyards and horse ranches to eclectic Mainstreet whose architecture holds the character from its Spanish Colonial roots. You will find fine traditional Hispanic examples of New Mexico historic architecture at San Ysidro Church and Casa San Ysidro.
The most scenic route from Albuquerque to Santa Fe offers stunning mountain views, artistic villages and year-round recreation.
Most of the 61-mile trail follows Hwy. 14, easily accessed from Interstate 40 east of Albuquerque or I-25 south of Santa Fe.
From the 10,678 ft. Sandia Crest, visitors can view up to 15,000 square miles of Central New Mexico. Venture into Sandia Crest Wilderness Area while hiking through aspen glades and across flowering meadows in the warmer months; or ski and snowshoe in the winter.
Drive back in time to the old mining towns of Golden, Madrid, and Cerrillos, now coming back to life with arts, crafts, theater, music and museums. The Museum of Archaeology and Material Culture in Cedar Crest is a 12,000-year timeline telling the story of North America’s earliest inhabitants through the Battle of Wounded Knee in 1890.
While popular memory evokes images of a highway lined with diners, motels, and roadside attractions catering to postwar travelers headed west, the Sandoval County section of “Mother Road” reflects the original purpose of the “Main Street of America,” to provide isolated rural communities with a major thoroughfare and access to urban centers.
Before 1938, Historic Route 66 meandered north, around the Sandia Mountains to Santa Fe and then turned south through Sandoval County to Albuquerque. Back then, the road was part pavement, part gravel, and part washboard dirt.
Farmers took produce to market, dustbowl “Okies” headed west and an emerging trucking industry favored this temperate, all-weather route to its northern counterparts.Route 66 changed its course in 1938 when national efforts to make the thoroughfare a continuously paved highway merged with the directives of an ousted state governor. Engineers built a new stretch of highway through the Sandias to Albuquerque, diverting travelers from the original, circuitous route.
Today’s travelers can immerse themselves in a blend of historic rural communities, farm and ranching culture, and bucolic scenery.
From the north, begin your journey into Sandoval County on I-25. Exit at Algodones (Exit 248) to NM 313 southbound. Drive this portion of Route 66 through the community of Bernalillo, home of several historic buildings, including the Old Convent building and Our Lady of Sorrows Chapel. Built in 1922, the Old Convent’s Salazar building is the largest adobe structure in the Southwest. Our Lady of Sorrows Chapel was originally built in 1716, right on top of what had been the kiva of the ruined pueblo, one of the few remaining examples of “pueblo-gothic” architecture.
El Camino Real
El Camino Real (“the Royal Road”) follows the Rio Grande from the U.S./Mexico border to Santa Fe and for 300 years was the Southwest’s main road for travelers.
Portions of the road followed the Rio Grande Pueblo Indian Trail, in use since before the arrival of the first Spanish explorers.
Within Sandoval County, El Camino Real curves through the southeast section of the county bringing travelers through three pueblos (Cochiti, Santo Domingo & San Felipe). Although there are sections of the original Camino Real that are no longer accessible, the route chosen for this byway is the one that most closely follows the original path.
From Santa Fe, take NM 16 west to Cochiti. Go to Peña Blanca, and then to NM 22 toward Santo Domingo. In Santo Domingo take NM 16 to get through town, and then travel NM 313 to San Felipe and Algodones.