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The Turquoise Trail

The Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway, NM 14, is a leisurely alternative to I-25 when traveling between Santa Fe and Albuquerque. If you are flying either into or out of the Albuquerque International Sunport, this is a different way to see the New Mexico landscape. The route passes to the east of the Sandia Mountains through a handful of old mining towns, where silver, gold and turquoise were once carved out of the mineral-rich hillsides. For more information, contact www.turquoisetrail.org

Cerrillos: This former mining town is such an authentic relic of the Wild West that it frequently serves as a film set for Westerns (Young Guns, among others). The frontier spirit lives on in the quirky shops that still occupy the petite main drag, where saloons and even an opera house once attracted revelers to the old frontier town. The Cerrillos Hills Historic Park (www.cerrilloshills.org) encompasses 1,100 acres of tree-covered hills with miles of trails for hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking. The 1,350-acre Ortiz Mountains Educational Preserve, which is maintained by the Santa Fe Botanical Garden, offers docent-led hiking tours from April through October with a focus on the plants, animals, geology and mining history of the Ortiz Mountains.

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