Breaking into New Mexico
Updated: Apr 16, 2021
Hola amigos, Welcome to my first post 😁 I am so excited to share my travel stories in New Mexico which I feel is one of the most underrated places in the United States.
Who would have thought that a random impromptu trip to this place would have inspired me to start my own travel blog and reminded me how much I love travelling? Crazy, right!
So, we planned the trip to New Mexico for about 4 days.
We drove from Colorado to Albuquerque on Friday and the drive was about 7 hours. We reached there around late night and stayed in an Airbnb.
Wanderer Pro Tip
Always try to choose cheaper accommodation on the first day of the trip. This would make sense especially if you are reaching during the late hours and planning to start early the next day. This way you can save some real bucks. Also, the closer it is to the places you like to visit, the better.
Albuquerque - "The Hot Air Balloon Capital of the World"
Ever since I watched 'UP' movie when I was a kid, I always wanted to go on a hot air balloon ride which is the next closest thing to flying in the air with a bunch of balloons(well, nearly ha-ha) and what better place to choose than the best in the world.
We woke up early and went for a sunrise Balloon Ride in Albuquerque which started at around 6am.There were a bunch of companies offering the hot air balloon rides and we went with Rainbow Ryders: https://rainbowryders.com/locations/albuquerque/?gclid=CjwKCAiAxp-ABhALEiwAXm6IyTjFN2uKm2X8h3jLbTqJlBmkiOG9fWsj_n00TDGS9hRVmRo9FkZrvRoCDlMQAvD_BwE
We chose the shared balloon ride with 5-8 people, sharing the ride with us which was about 159$ but they also offer private balloon rides which are a bit more expensive. There was a lot of space inside the basket, so we didn’t feel disrupted at all. The whole experience of watching sunrise on a balloon from the top was just magical and a lifetime experience. We were done with the ride by about 10AM and continued to the Breaking bad tour.
Breaking Bad Tour
To all the Breaking Bad fans (I know most of you are 😉), you are in for a treat, if you are in Albuquerque. The Breaking Bad show was primarily filmed in Albuquerque. I just love this show and binge watched it big time. There are some good options for guided breaking bad RV tours like https://www.breakingbadrvtours.com/ but we chose to do a self-guided, do-it-yourself tour. You can drive to most places where the series was shot and below are a few we went and broke bad hehe.
Walter White's House
Address: 3828 Piermont Dr, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87112 USA.
The house was really cool to see. The fans can take pictures from across the road. Remember, this is a private property. So, don't walk on their property and be respectful of the neighborhood. Also, most important - No!! Pizza on roof, LOL
The White's A-1 Car Wash
Address: 9516 Snowheights Cir NE Albuquerque, NM 87112
This is the car wash which is actually named Mister that Walter and Skyler owned in Breaking Bad where they used to launder money. This is our favorite place of all as they had a cute Breaking bad memory lane of pictures inside the building. Everyone were super friendly. We did a car wash there and took some pictures.
Los Pollos Hermanos (Gustavo Fring’s Shop)
Address: 4257 Isleta Blvd SW Albuquerque, NM 87105
This infamous eatery is the cover-up business for Gustavo and was featured many times in the show. Currently, this place is called Twisters and you can eat here 😊.
There are other places you can drive up from the show but these were on the top of our list and we skipped the others.
After Lunch, we drove to Carlsbad and stayed there for the night.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
We woke up early around 5am and reached the park by 7 am. As it was during COVID, it was first come first serve for the entrance tickets and there were long lines by 7am. We were able to get in to the park for the 11am time slot. The Last Entrance Ticket sold is 2:15pm. So, make sure to reach the park at least by 7am to get a time slot. There was a cool gift shop and a small cafe by the visitor center where we had some breakfast and waited there till out time slot. Wanderer Pro Tip
I highly recommend purchasing The US Park Pass if you are a group of 2 or more people, which is valid for all the national parks in the US and it is valid for 1 year.
Carlsbad Caverns is a very unique park which is completely underground. Visitors have the option to either ride the elevator down or to hike the roughly one mile and 750 ft. descent down. If you take the elevator and skip the hike, you are missing out on a lot but this might be the only option for some. I believe it takes somewhere between 3 to 5 hours to really absorb the awesomeness of your surroundings and take a sufficient number of photos. If you just plan on hiking through and not stopping a lot, you can complete the full 'Natural Tour' in an hour and a half.
Make sure that you come prepared. I would highly recommend that you bring a bright flashlight (with backup batteries), water, snacks, a nice camera (with a zoom and flash), good traction shoes as it is wet and slippery in some areas (Not too bad though) and a light jacket. It stays at 59° year round according to the National Park website but it feels more like 68° throughout most of the adventure.
Each evening from late-May through October, you can enjoy a ranger program about the Brazilian free-tailed bats that live in Carlsbad Cavern and see them emerge. They perform a mass exodus at dusk every evening and return at dawn which is an awesome sight to see as well. My husband is a huge Batman fan and he thoroughly enjoyed it.
From the park, we drove to Sunland Park where we found the most unique Airbnb accommodation. It is a Vintage Travel Trailer with a private deck overlooking the border of the US and Mexico.
There was also a deep copper soaking tub on our deck to relax under the stars. It was such a cool spot!. We felt secluded while being close enough to the town. We had some good authentic Mexican dinner and relaxed for the night after a long day.
We woke up late today and had an authentic New Mexican brunch.
Wanderer Pro Tip
As they say, be a roman while in Rome, I would say eat as much good real Mexican food as you can while in New Mexico
Trust me, you gotta taste the authentic chili Rellenos, beans and salsa in New Mexico. It is nowhere close to something you find in restaurant chains like Qdoba/Chipotle. The authentic Mexican food was easily one of the highlights of our trip and the best part, there are local family owned restaurant’s every nook and corner of the state.
Wanderer Pro Tip
Try to relax on the last day of your vacation. While I love to explore as much as I can when I visit a new place, I also want to feel relaxed and rejuvenated by the end of it so I ready to get back to my routine.
White Sands National Monument
As we were lazing around till noon, we started to White Sands National Monument around evening 4pm. It was a 1 hour drive and to our surprise, we came across a port of entry checkpoint. We were stopped by the border security officer and he asked for our passports which made us a little nervous. For a moment, I was convinced we missed an exit and entered Mexico which led us to the port of entry, LOL. But later we realized as it is the border state, they had multiple port of entry check points on the highway to avoid illegal immigrants from Mexico, I guess. So, make sure to carry your passports if you are not a US citizen and travelling to the south central side of NM.
We reached white sands around 6pm and it was just mesmerizing. Please do yourself a favor and visit white sands for sunset. It was beyond magical and the sand was so soft and nice to walk on bare foot. We took some photos and watched the sunset. I definitely did not want to leave this place any sooner and would love to visit again!
Day 4 We checked out and started driving back to Colorado.
One our way back we visited Ship Rock. Located 15 miles southwest of the town of Ship rock, NM is a unique towering, bird-like volcanic rock formation that can be seen for miles in all directions. As this rock formation is sacred to the Navajos – hiking and/or climbing on the sacred peak or its surrounding rocks is forbidden. Also, driving onto the dirt road leading to the formation is prohibited – please view and photograph the pinnacle from the paved roadway. It was worth a visit as this looked just like a Fort in Disney movies 🤩
We also planned to visit four corners and ah shi sle pah on the way as they are in close proximity to Ship rock but they were closed due to COVID restrictions.
So plan your trip, pack your backs and get ready to explore this amazing Land of Enchantment 🙏