Wild West Road Trip {Days 4-5}


After two and a half years of planning and saving, we finally took our big Wild West Road Trip in July! We drove 8,775 miles over 35 days, spent 203 hours in the van, stayed in 26 different hotels/cabins/Airbnbs, and visited 12 national parks, 1 national historic site, 4 national monuments, 2 tribal parks, and 16 states! It was a crazy awesome trip - of course there were a few rough patches here and there, but overall it was amazing to spend so much uninterrupted time with my favorite people and having such gorgeous views made it even better!

I'll eventually get through blogging the whole trip, because so many people have asked for details, but it's going to take a while to get through it all because I still have thousands of photos to get through! By the way, some of these photos I'm posting were taken by my husband - he has a great eye and he took a TON of photos! 

See Days 1-3 here.

Day 4

After a later start than I was hoping for, due to rolling into town at 2:00 am and desperately needing some sleep, we spent the first part of this day exploring downtown Santa Fe. We rented a condo through Airbnb (click the link to sign up and get $40 off your first stay!) We used Airbnb in four cities and we loved it! It was so nice to have a kitchen, laundry, and a little variety. The photos above are our view right out the front door, and the photo below is the front porch.

We didn't actually go in to this museum, but I loved the building! I loved all of the buildings in Santa Fe, and pretty much everything about the city. Everything was so pretty - the architecture was amazing, and even the parking meters were decorated!

Our first stop was Palace of the Governors. There's a museum inside, which we didn't visit, but we loved the Native American vendors set up outside! We got a few souvenirs and gifts here, including a turquoise ring that I love.

I would LOVE to go back to spend at least a week in New Mexico! Everything was so colorful and beautiful, and I didn't even see half of what I was hoping to see! We all loved Santa Fe.

We ate lunch at the Bumble Bee's Baja Grill. It was SO good! I had a green chile cheeseburger and it was delicious. They like to put chiles on everything out west. We also tried Mexican Coke. I'm not really sure what the difference is exactly, but it does taste a little different.

Our next stop was the San Miguel Mission, the oldest church in the US. It was built sometime between 1610 and 1626. This was really cool to see. I wish we had a prettier blue sky for the photos, but that's ok. I'm really glad we saw this!

The oldest house is right next door to the church. It dates back to sometime in the 1600s  and is believed to rest on the foundation of a pueblo built in the 1200s. Part of it is a museum and there is also a small gift shop inside. It's definitely worth a stop if you're ever in the area!

Our last stop in Santa Fe was a walk down Canyon Road. This street is full of art galleries and outdoor sculptures and I loved it so much! We didn't go in any of the galleries but just the stuff outside was amazing!

See what I mean about everything being pretty in New Mexico? Even their overpasses are decorated!

Pretty much everything in downtown Santa Fe closes at 5:00, so after we finished up there we headed about 40 minutes away to the Tsankawi section of Bandelier National Monument. We chose this section because it was a little closer to Santa Fe, was open later, and didn't require riding a shuttle. Tsankawi was nice and quiet and it was a perfect spot for our first hike of this trip! I don't remember even seeing anyone else there. There are some ancient ruins, cliff dwellings, and petroglyphs, but we didn't quite make it that far on the trail because a storm was moving in. What we saw was totally worth the drive there though! 

Jack insisted on carrying all of the drinks, snacks, and safety stuff.

There were several ladders on this trail. They didn't seem as sturdy as I would like. If you don't like Trail 3 at Turkey Run then this is not the trail for you - these ladders are kind of sketchy! The only one of us that got hurt was Daniel - he slipped near the top of the first ladder and scraped his leg.

The path was worn into the rock in one section. I thought that was pretty cool.

That tiny little arch was the first of many we'd see on this trip!

As I said, we didn't see the whole trail because a storm was moving in, but I'm so glad we made the trip out there! It was an adventurous but fairly easy trail and the views were amazing!

Day 5

We drove from Santa Fe to Holbrook, Arizona, with a few stops along the way. We  took the Turquoise Trail from Santa Fe to Albuquerque and we meant to stop in Los Cerrillos, where Young Guns was filmed, but we missed the turn and we were already running later than we hoped. We did make time to stop at the San Francisco de Asis Church and I'm so glad we did! This church was built in 1839 and it's still in use! The caretakers just happened to be there doing some work, and they were so sweet and let Daniel fly the drone around, which was actually the only time we got it out on the whole trip. It was too windy in all of the other places we thought we would use it. The caretakers also invited us in to see the inside of the church and told us about a time when a new priest was coming to the church and got lost and ended up being late. When he finally arrived and the people went forward for communion, part of the roof collapsed right on the pews, so if he had been on time the people would have been sitting in the pews and been crushed. Crazy how God works things out sometimes!

Our next stop was Boca Negra Canyon, part of Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque. I knew we'd be seeing more petroglyphs in other areas, but I wanted to stop here because you can walk right up to them - in a lot of places I researched, they're either behind a fence or up high where they're harder to see. I also thought it was cool that these are on black rocks - all the others we saw were on red rocks. We climbed all the way to the top of this hill, but it turns out that all the best petroglyphs were near the bottom anyway - just a little tip in case you're ever there!

We saw so many warnings about rattlesnakes on this trip, but luckily we didn't actually see any snakes!

We stopped for lunch at the Owl Cafe in Albuquerque, just because the building was cool. The food was good - I think I had another green chile cheeseburger. After this we settled in to drive for a few hours, with a few quick little stops.

We had hoped to make it to Petrified Forest National Park by around 2:00, but I think it was closer to  5:00 before we made it there. We checked out the Painted Desert and planned to go back the next morning to see the Petrified Forest.

The building above the is the Painted Desert Inn. It's now a museum, but I think it was closed by the time we made it there so we didn't check it out. The outside was cool though!

Joey was actually really excited to see the Painted Desert. I think he was maybe a little disappointed at first because he didn't see the different colored layers he was expecting, but we did see more of that the next day.

We tried to mix up where we stayed - we mixed in Airbnb rentals, cabins, and a couple of unique places along with normal hotels. One of our favorites, and one of the few things that didn't change from our original itinerary when we first started planning this trip, was the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona. This place is iconic and it was even cooler than we thought it would be.

The wigwams are small, with just two double beds in each, so we rented two and had girls night and guys night. Abbie and I did face masks, danced, and talked a TON. The boys had Doritos and TV. Guys night sounded kind of lame, but I had a ton of fun with Abbie! We took tons of photos here. There were Native Americans doing traditional dances just down the street, so we stopped and watched that for a while before grabbing some supper. This looked like a pretty cool little town and I wish we had had a little more time to explore it!

Staying places with actual keys made me happy! I don't know why - it just seemed very retro-road-trippy I guess.

That's it for Days 4 &5. Next up is Day 6 - the Grand Canyon! Click here to check it out!

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  1. The trail at Tsankawi was not marked well at all. If you remember we went like 1/4mile out of the way at one point. Easy hike but you gotta be careful not to get lost.


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