As we were traveling back to Texas, it made sense to continue down the road to Albuquerque for our flight home. However, this drive might also be useful for those visiting Telluride or Durango headed back a similar direction.
One attraction which was highly recommended by the locals in Dunton was the Mesa Verde National Park. It is about an hour off the direct route and depending upon the time of year you travel can include tours of the cliff dwellings. Here you can climb wooden ladders and exploring the stone rooms. However, we did not have enough time so instead we stopped instead by the Aztec National Monument which is right off the road in Aztec, NM.
This monument is fairly small and easy to tour in about an hour on your own. On a nice day, it is definitely worth a stop for photographers and those interested in exploring the 400 rooms, doorways and Pueblo Great House thought to be used for ceremonial or social purposes. If you have an hour to spare, it is worth the stop.
And if you can resist the urge to grab some food in town, a bit further down the road is El Bruno’s in Cuba, NM. Highly recommended on TripAdvisor this Mexican restaurant’s specialty is the Enchilidas de Herrera which combine layers of flour tortillas with red chile and smoked pork. The portions are huge and ending the meal with large sopapillas and honey makes for a great meal.
For lodging, we had actually selected a different resort but had our reservation cancelled with only a week’s notice (while we were at the airport leaving for our trip). However what was initially very frustrating turned out to be a blessing in disguise – as we had mistakenly overlooked the nearby Los Poblanos Historic Inn a bit further down the road.
The Los Poblanos Inn is a hidden gem – converting an original working farm and ranch into a luxury resort complete with swimming pools; bocce ball court under the trees; lavender fields; alpacas; and farm to table dining.
After a long drive, you can easily relax at the inn while playing a game of bocce ball and listening to the peacocks (which have quite loud calls in the evening).
If you plan a late flight home, this will give you enough time to explore the area and the resort. We started our day with a bike ride (there are complimentary bikes onsite) to the nearby Rio Grande Trail. It is only a few blocks down the road and you can pedal alongside the Rio Grande River on a beautiful day. Afterwards, be sure to stop at the Farm Shop to look over the towels, plates, lavender oils, soaps and more.
Stopping by to see the alpacas on your way out, you can then either explore Albuquerque’s Old Town; make the drive up to Sante Fe for shopping and lunch; or visit the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. We chose the latter but this might only be for those who insist on finding unique structures or photographs. It is roughly an hour drive there and back and includes a gravel road to the overlook – although you can also hike into the area as well.
If you get back into Albuquerque with a few more hours to spend, what do you do? The Breaking Bad tour of course. There are paid tours but you don’t really need a tour to see the high points including the home of Heisenberg himself at 3828 Piermont Dr NE Albuquerque, NM 87111. Then it is just around the corner to the infamous A1A car wash (actually Mister Car Wash in real life) at 9516 Snow Heights Cir NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87112 USA. And finally a drive into downtown to The Candy Lady at 424 San Felipe St NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104. The Candy Lady invented the blue rock candy used on the show and you can put on Walt’s hat and glasses and hold up a tray of the crushed blue candy for that photo op to send friends. The Candy Lady is also located in Albuquerque’s Old Town where you can visit local shops and artists if you have more time to spend.
Finally, one of our favorite diners in the U.S. is not far away at the 66 Diner. We found the 66 Diner on our previous trip down Route 66 to the Grand Canyon. This Route 66 icon serves large burgers, cheese fries covered in hatch green chiles and large handmade shakes like the Grasshopper made with mint chocolate chip ice cream and Oreo’s. Finally, a few more photos in front of the neon diner lights or the wall outside covered in Route 66 road signs caps off an amazing trip before heading home.
And for more details on surrounding areas see our full itinerary for Moab and Dunton Hot Springs or Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce or destination notes for Arches, Canyonlands, Dunton Hot Springs, Zion/Bryce Canyon, and Amangiri/Lake Powell.