Sometimes it’s nice to get away for the day and add a little adventure to your life. Spending the day exploring new sights, visiting museums, hiking, biking, fishing, snowboarding or other fun activities can make a difference in the quality of your life. And when the day is done, reflect upon your adventures beneath the stars!
Here are 12 suggestions for day trips near Rio Rancho and Mariposa. Check websites before you travel for specific COVID-19 restrictions. NOTE: Many places that charge admission require reservations and tickets to be purchased online.
Acoma Pueblo is more than just a tourist destination, it’s part of New Mexico’s cultural heritage, as the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in North America. The Sky City Cultural Center and Haak’u Museum serves as the reception center and museum for visitors to the Pueblo of Acoma. Tour the museum, enjoy a hearty meal at the Yaak’a (corn) Café and visit the gift shop.
PO Box 310, Pueblo of Acoma, NM
Tickets range from $15 to $25, discount rates for 15 or more people.
80 miles from Mariposa
The Sandia Peak Tramway is an aerial tramway that rises you above the hustle and bustle of Albuquerque. An unbelievable view awaits you as it reaches the 10,378-foot crest of the Sandia Mountains. Unwind at the TEN 3 restaurant when you reach the top, which provides glorious mountain views.
30 Tramway Rd NE, Albuquerque
Tickets range from $18-29.
25 miles from Mariposa
Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument contains three distinct sites of preserved ruins that provide an insightful glimpse into the Pueblo peoples and their early encounters with Franciscan missionaries. Visit the main park visitor center in Mountainair and watch the 14-minute educational film about the history of the three cultural sites, Gran Quivira, Quarai and Abó, then explore the ruins.
105 S Ripley Ave, Mountainair
Free to visit, special events may require a fee.
130 miles from Mariposa
Petroglyph National Monument is one of the largest petroglyph sites in North America, featuring designs and symbols carved onto volcanic rocks by Native Americans and Spanish settlers 400 to 700 years ago. The Monument’s visitor center is located on the west side of Albuquerque, but has no petroglyph viewing trails. Each of the petroglyph viewing trails are a one-mile to a 6.5-mile drive from the visitor center. They recommend that if you are being dropped off at the visitor center, have your driver wait for you as you will need to be driven to the petroglyph viewing trail of your choice.
Boca Negra Canyon is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with last entry at 4:00 pm daily. Visitors are allowed to hike the trails at the Volcanoes Day Use Area, Rinconada Canyon, and Piedras Marcadas Canyons from sunrise to sunset by simply parking outside of the gated parking lots.
Unser Blvd. Western Trail NW, Albuquerque
From Interstate 40 take the Unser Blvd. exit (#154) and proceed north 3 miles to Western Trail. Turn left or west onto Western Trail and follow road to the visitor center parking lot.
From Interstate 25 take the Paseo del Norte exit (#232) and proceed west to Coors Road exit south. Proceed south on Coors Road to Western Trail. Turn right or west onto Western Trail and follow road to the visitor center.
Boca Negra Canyon has a $2 parking fee on weekends and $1 on weekdays.
About 25 miles from Mariposa
Enjoy hot springs, streams, fumaroles, natural gas seeps and volcanic domes at Valles Caldera, a 13.7-mile-wide volcanic caldera in the Jemez Mountains of northern New Mexico. There’s something for everyone, including hiking, wildlife viewing, picnicking, fishing, bicycling, skiing, snowshoeing, activities with rangers, horseback riding, and guided tours.
39201 NM-4, Jemez Springs. Directions and map here: https://www.nps.gov/vall/planyourvisit/directions.htm
Valles Caldera National Preserve are a fee park; however, at this time the entrance fee is being waived.
60 miles from Mariposa
Kick back and spend some time soaking in the natural hot springs at Jemez Springs. You’ll enjoy the natural outdoor therapeutic mineral water pools. The site offers four water pools of varying temperatures with built-in seating and temperatures that are maintained at a comfortable 98-105 degrees Fahrenheit.
40 Abousleman Loop, Jemez Springs
$25 per person for one-hour soak, $50 per person for two-hour soak. Walk-in’s welcome.
38 miles from Mariposa
Love caves? Carlsbad Caverns National Park, located in the Chihuahuan Desert of southern New Mexico, features more than 100 caves. The park is famous for its limestone caves, rock formations and hiking trails. View stalactites clinging to the roof of the Big Room, a huge underground chamber in Carlsbad Cavern. Actor and comedian Will Rogers called the cavern “The Grand Canyon with a roof over it.”
Wear closed-toe shoes with good traction as trails are wet and sometimes steep. To see the Brazilian free-tailed bats, ask a ranger what time the bats emerge from Carlsbad Cavern each evening during the summer.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park Visitor Center is located at 727 Carlsbad Caverns Highway in Carlsbad.
$15 for ages 16 and older, under 15 free. Free with National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass.
326 miles from Mariposa
See one of the world’s great natural wonders – the great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand that engulf 275 square miles of desert and form the world’s largest gypsum dunefield at White Sands National Park. The park features a drive from the visitor center to the heart of the dunes. Enjoy picnic areas, backcountry campground in the dunefield, marked hiking trails, and sledding on the dunes. Ranger-guided orientation and nature walks occur at various times and months throughout the year. White Sands is home to a special set of species that have been able to adapt to the harsh conditions in the desert, including toads, road runners, and more than 600 species of invertebrates. Guests are asked to pack out trash and Leave No Trace when they visit.
The visitor center is located on Highway US-70 between the cities of Alamogordo and Las Cruces.
$15 per person, $25 per vehicle, or National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass.
250 miles from Mariposa
If you love art, don’t miss visiting the small village of Madrid, nestled in a canyon in the Ortiz Mountains. Once a coal mining town, it’s now an artists’ community with more than 40 galleries lining New Mexico State Road 14 between Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Travelers will also enjoy the restaurants, spa and museum, plus there’s a state park just north of Madrid with hiking paths and horseback riding.
New Mexico State Road 14 between Santa Fe and Albuquerque
45 miles from Mariposa
There’s never a lack of attractions in Taos, including rafting, snow skiing, shopping, iconic churches and more, all with scenic views of the Rocky Mountains and the Rio Grande Gorge. Enjoy a wine or beer tour, visit movie sets, or explore the ghosts of Taos at several haunted houses. You’ll never run out of things to see and do!
Located in northern New Mexico’s high desert, north of Santa Fe, bounded by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
125 miles from Mariposa
New Mexico’s capital, Santa Fe, sits in the Sangre de Cristo foothills. Known for its Pueblo-style architecture, it’s also a creative arts hotbed and home to the New Mexico History Museum. The Santa Fe Marketplace has everything from art to apparel and much more. You’ll find a list of 77 vendors here. Plus, there’s the opportunity to see performing arts, Native American culture displays, wellness events and outdoor activities such as rafting, hiking and biking.
Santa Fe is in the northern central part of New Mexico, northeast of Albuquerque.
56 miles from Mariposa
Just north of Albuquerque, you’ll find Coronado Historic Site and the ruins of Kuaua Pueblo. This is where Francisco Vasquez de Coronado entered the Rio Grande Valle searching for the fabled Seven Cities of Gold. The Visitor’s Center contains prehistoric and historic Puebloan and Spanish Colonial artifacts on exhibit with several hands-on components, as well as magnificent views of the Rio Grande and Sandia Mountains.
485 Kuaua Rd, Bernalillo
$7 for adults, free for under 16 years.
10 miles from Mariposa
So many attractions, so little time. Begin today building memories that fill the soul and remind you why you love New Mexico!
Looking for a new home or custom homesite near Albuquerque? Nestled among the foothills of Rio Ranch, Mariposa is a master-planned community 30 minutes north of Albuquerque. Mariposa is designed for living naturally and offers a fully equipped fitness center, resort-style indoor and outdoor pools, parks, sports courts, miles of trails, abundant open space and endless views at the Mariposa Preserve and surrounding mountains. Learn more at https://liveinmariposa.com/.
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