• sparkfireswan

A&A Spend A Week In Santa Fe With Friends

End of Week #73

Rodeo De Santa Fe, Santa Fe NM > Chosa BLM Campground, Whites City NM

Miles traveled since last week's post = 295 miles

Total miles traveled to date = 9,869 with trailer

Coming to you from the southern New Mexico desert, near Carlsbad Caverns National Park and the Guadalupe Mountains. Today it is clear skies, sunny, and 90 degrees! We are boondocking at a BLM campground just outside of the National Park before we make our way into Texas again. In preparations to come here it was most definitely not supposed to be this hot, however this area is experiencing a heat wave with record breaking temps and here we are in the middle of it. (Seems to be a trend ever since we left Gualala?)

We just wrapped up over a week in northern New Mexico, in Santa Fe, with our long lost friends Tom and Tania. It was so great seeing them and spending so much time together after more than 8 months apart. We used to all live about a mile or two from each other in Minnesota for several years, so needless to say the long distance away from each other has been a change for us all!

I honestly don't think we could have asked for a better experience in Santa Fe with them and we had a really fun time hanging out and exploring the area. This week's post is focused on all that we did while we were there!

A&A Spend A Week In Santa Fe With Friends

Santa Fe is New Mexico’s capital, and sits in the Sangre de Cristo foothills. It’s renowned for its Pueblo-style architecture and as a creative arts hotbed. Founded as a Spanish colony in 1610, it has at its heart the traditional Plaza. The surrounding historic district’s crooked streets wind past adobe landmarks including the Palace of the Governors, now home to the New Mexico History Museum. The city sits at an elevation of over 7,000 feet above sea level, and is filled with a legendary culture you can't describe, you just have to experience it.

Where did we stay

Rodeo de Santa Fe

I feel very fortunate to have come across a true gem of a place to RV camp, right in the middle of Santa Fe, and only a HALF MILE from our friends house. We spent 9 nights at the Santa Fe rodeo, with full hookups and a locked gate entry. We were surrounded by horses, other rodeo residents, and travelers passing through the area. It literally took us about 2 minutes to get to T & T's house from this location, and we felt safe and secure for only $25 a night! That is a steal in Santa Fe, as most other RV parks go for $45-$60 per night. Staying at this location saved us a lot of money, especially since due to current covid restrictions all state parks are only available to New Mexico residents and a lot of other forms of camping are completely closed.

I give this place a solid review, and am already sending other RVer's their way! Jim is in charge of the rodeo and he was more than accommodating to us. We would definitely stay here again!

What did we do

Hang out at the T & T Pueblo

This was our first time seeing T & T's new pueblo house, and it was as cute as I had imagined. Tania decorated it with her sugar skulls and succulents and it was filled with love and affection from their two boxer pups. (This was also our first time meeting their new puppy, Chunk!)

As we had a lot of catching up to do between the four of us, we spent a lot of time at their house (mostly at night), eating, playing adult board games like monopoly and scrabble (paired nicely with fresh drinks), and watching scary movies like the Conjuring. One night we even got to check out their roof and the famous swamp cooler.

RV browsing, groceries & Madrid

One of our first few days together (before we took a mid-week break while T & T had a few days of work), we all took a day trip down to Albuquerque. While we were there we went to Aloha RV to take a look at some travel trailers and 5th wheels and show T & T what the nomad living quarters is all about. Adam and I got to daydream about our future 5W upgrades, and take a look at a 2020 upgraded version of our current Imagine trailer too. (We own a 2019.)

While we were down in Albuquerque we all also hit up Costco to replenish some stockpiles and later in the week Adam and I got some goodies from Tom's work at Trader Joe's too.

The very best part about this whole experience was definitely our drive through the artistic town of Madrid (pronounced Mad-drid) on the way back from Albuquerque. Tania was super excited to show it to us and to stop and have a good time, but unfortunately it was just getting dark as we made our way through and it had already been a long day for all of us out RV browsing. Later on, we also found out that our neighbor at the rodeo loves Madrid too and she has family members that own a business there. We all planned to take a another day trip back to explore but then the week flew by and we ran out of time. This is a place I feel like I have to return to!


No trip anywhere is complete without getting at least a little hiking action in! (We are RVing AND hiking the USA afterall...) Of course, like always, I wish we could have done even more hiking since there are so many great trails to explore, but here is a list of some of the awesome places we did check out:

  • Bandelier National Monument - We were able to enter the park with my Access Pass, and it was only about 45 minutes from T & T's house. The drive there could not have been more stunning, with green trees and mountain cliffs. This monument protects over 33,000 acres of rugged canyon and human dwellings that date back 11,000 years ago. The park is filled with petroglyphs and cliff dwellings to explore, and some to just take in their beauty from afar. We climbed through some of the ruins and went up over 150 ladder steps along the side of a cliff to check out the Alcove House. Climbing on the ladder was extremely scary for me, but the views and the history made it all worthwhile.

  • Pecos National Historic Park - Pecos was much smaller in size, compared to Bandelier, and it was also a shorter drive from Santa Fe, but the beauty of it was just as captivating. It is located in the middle of pinon, juniper, and ponderosa pine woodlands (literally all my favorite desert forests) right at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The park has remains from Indian pueblos and explorers that once called this place home. There is also remnants of the ancient mission church from the Spanish explorers - a place that has so much to tell you from a horrific past of the United States history.

  • Picacho Peak - Located in the southern Sangre de Cristo Mountains, this 4 mile hike gained about 1,200 feet in elevation and was only about 10 minutes from where we were staying at the Rodeo. Adam and I completed this hike alone one day while T & T were working and we got to check out amazing views of Santa Fe and the surrounding mountains. It's been awhile since we have hiked so much in high elevation, so it sort of kicked my butt a little, but the views always make it worth it in the end. This trail was highly rated on All Trails and other hiking blogs and websites, so I figured it was one we couldn't miss!

Santa Fe Plaza (downtown)

I think I can confidently say that downtown Santa Fe is one of the absolute cutes and most quaint downtowns I've ever been too, especially considering this is the capital of New Mexico! Right away when we entered the town square I immediately felt like I transported into Jackson Hole, WY - with it's wild, wild, west vibes and decorations. Downtown Santa Fe had a total pueblo, old west feel to it, and it was lined with shops, antiques, bars and restaurants, and a whole lot of history. It felt completely open and inviting and was somewhere that I'd love to explore at night. Honestly this is probably one of my favorite downtown's ever and I feel like I'm going to be talking about it for a long time.

As the heart of downtown Santa Fe for nearly 400 years, the Plaza remains the central part of the city, hosting Indian and Spanish markets and other annual events as well as community gatherings, concerts and more.. (when there are not Covid restrictions of course!) Downtown is artsy, it is historic, and it has incredible landmarks like The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis.

Here is some of the fun stuff we explored in the Santa Fe Plaza:

  • Farmer's Market - This wasn't exactly downtown, but it was just outside of it. Every Tuesday and Saturday Santa Fe has a large Farmer's Market that takes place at the Railyard all year long. I've never been to a FM before that had such an amazing vibe and energy - even operating at only 25% due to covid. There were vendors lined on the streets and in buildings on each side of the main strip. You could smell chili peppers everywhere and vendors were making chili pepper wreaths and animal shapes out of sage. This was by far my favorite FM experience!

  • Shops - Over the weekend we spent some time perusing the shops with T & T, checking out all of the cute little gift stores and gem shops. You could spend a whole day just walking around and looking at things!

  • Draft Station (& Rooftop Pizzeria) - Tom, Adam and I took a trip to this rooftop brewery one afternoon to enjoy some local brews in the sun. From the patio you had views of the entire downtown square and we had so much fun people watching and enjoying the weather - and we also had killer views of the Basilica. It was kind of odd though... for the first time ever, we had to have our temperature taken in order to enter the restaurant. Adam and I made many jokes about being brain zapped...

  • Happy hour at Coyote Cafe & Cantina - All four of us got to enjoy this authentic, mexican style cafe/cantina right in the heart of downtown. They were festive and lively with mexican music and decorations and a great happy hour. If I was a local this would be one of my favorite hang outs!

  • Beer Creek Brewing Co., outside of downtown - By far, this was the most authentic and sophisticated brewery I have ever been to. It was located about 15-20 minutes out of downtown, and right as you walked in it felt like you were stepping into Italy. Their patio has a brick wall around it, decorated with lanterns, trees and other lighting. There was an outdoor bar and fireplace and amazing views of the mountains too!

On one of the days Tom and Tania worked, Adam and I also got a replacement filter for the van at a hardware store in town, and Adam swapped that over for us!


We did not do as much eating out as one would assume, but the things we did eat out were droolworthy, and the things we ate at home were even BETTER. Check out the list below for some of my all time (week?) favorites.

  • Tania's famous shrimp ceviche - Not only did we get to enjoy this dish once, but we got to have it on our last night together too! Tania prepared us a delicious and humongous bowl of fresh shrimp ceviche that we paired with tostadas and on the last night we had some pork tacos that Tommy made too. (I ate a vegetarian version.) Tania's ceviche was so delicious, we are already thinking about trying to recreate it once we get to Florida.

  • Whoo's Donuts - This was a place I had been eyeballing since before we arrived in Santa Fe (I'm always looking for a good treat!) Then the day we were at the Farmer's Market they had a stand conveniently set up in one of the buildings. Adam got a sausage breakfast burrito and I got a blue corn blueberry lavender donut (the blue corn is a thing around here) and a white chocolate pistachio one. All of their donuts are made from scratch daily and prepared from a list of clean ingredients!

  • Pizza and green chili cheesecake from Beer Creek Brewing - The night we had a few drinks on their beautiful patio, we also indulged in a little food specialties too. We shared a Goddess pizza with chicken added to it and took home some of their green chili cheesecake for a snack later. Everything was super delicious and I would absolutely eat here again!

What was the weather like

This time of year is generally beautiful in Santa Fe, with highs in the 60s and lows in the mid 30's or higher - fall colors all around. While we were visiting they were having unseasonable warm temps, and we had highs in the upper 70s every single day. It did still get a bit chilly at night, dropping to the upper 30's (I mean we were in the high desert after all), but it wasn't anything we couldn't handle. Our space heater did poop out on us and won't work at all right now, but we would occasionally turn the fireplace on before bed. We also had clear blue sunshine filled skies each and every day, and I'm starting to think it doesn't ever get cloudy out here.

I really don't think we could have asked for better weather or a better time of year to visit!

Overall Santa Fe vibe

Pleasantly surprised

I don't want to come off like a jerkasaurus but all of our past New Mexico experience's have not been our most favorite. I had high hopes for Santa Fe, but I went into it without any expectations. Santa Fe most definitely surprised me in more ways than one and was undeniably the most beautiful part of New Mexico we have been to thus far. I would absolutely go back (especially if it was to see our friends again), and I'd love to do more hiking and exploring when covid restrictions have finally been lifted.

We can definitely understand why our friends choose this city to move to (and to leave the cold Minnesota winters behind), and I'm so happy that we finally got to enjoy it with them.

If only, if only

If we weren't under covid restrictions... two KEY places we would have not passed up an opportunity to explore would have been Meow Wolf and hiking in Tent Rocks. Unfortunately both of these places were completely closed during our stay.

I'm not going to lie, it was extremely hard saying 'see you later' to our people last night, but we know that in no time flat we will see them again, somewhere! It always feels easy when we are off by ourselves, but once we have stopped to spend some time with people we love - Adam and I both struggle to leave.

The time went by as fast as ever and we are off again, in the middle of nowhere, and back on route to get to southern Florida in less than a month!

NEXT WEEK: Have you ever been curious about how we find the places we stay at? Maybe how much we spend on average on campgrounds and RV parks? What about boondocking? Next week will focus on how we find places to stay, what type of places we stay at, the hookup situations and of course the budget too! Sign Up For the A&A Nomadic Newsletter! *Currently under construction and paused at this time.* Sign up to receive your future FREE copy now. Subscribe to our Nomadic Newsletter through our special landing page! You will gain special inside access to photos, details tips & tricks, and everything you need to know to teach you how to live the nomadic lifestyle! Here is the link to subscribe: A&A Destination Unknown ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ For more reviews, content, and other adventures, be sure to follow me on Instagram at Spark Fire Swan. xoxo #RVchallenges #SantaFe #NewMexicoTrue #NewMexico #LandOfEnchantment

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