- 16 miles (25 km)
- 30 minutes without stops.
- There are no fees for driving the byway.
Santa Fe National Forest Scenic Byway starts in the heart of historic Santa Fe and follows New Mexico State Highway 475 through the narrow Tesuque Canyon to the Santa Fe Ski Area. Each stopping point along this route offers vastly different activities. Yet, each will enhance your experience as you drive through foothills and forests.
The Palace of the Governors, located in Santa Fe's city center, serves as the beginning point on your journey. Here, catch a glimpse of New Mexico in centuries gone by. The palace, an adobe building constructed in 1610, is the oldest continuously occupied public building in the United States. In 1909, New Mexico state legislature established the edifice as a state history museum, which is what it remains as today.
As you leave Santa Fe, you'll find yourself surrounded in Santa Fe National Forest. Extending for almost 1.6 million acres, it showcases multitudinous landscapes. Spring and summer spread wildflowers across the forest's fields. Autumn months bring throngs of "aspencaders" hoping to immerse themselves in the brilliant red, orange, and gold stands of aspen. In the winter, snow smothers the now-bare aspen stands of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. As beautiful as the forest is, don't just look at it from the road; pull over, step inside, and discover it. Go fishing in one of many mountain streams, hike the Truchas Peaks area, or wildlife watch. Elk, deer, bear, and Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep all live in this forest.
Hyde Memorial State Park, filled with evergreen and aspen stands, occupies almost 400 acres of the Santa Fe National Forest. Here, you'll see smaller animals, such as fox, porcupine, and raccoon. While the park is a place to relax, it also serves as a base camp for further forest recreation. Embark on a backpacking trip or, in the winter, delve into a variety of snow sports.
Santa Fe Ski Area, the final destination for your trip, sits at the perimeter of the Pecos Wilderness Area in the Santa Fe National Forest. The summit reaches 12,075 feet, and provides access to the Pecos Wilderness Area via the Winsor Trail, less than a mile from the ski area's parking lot. This pine-covered powdery ski area encompasses 660 acres and features 67 trails, seven ski lifts, and 1,725 vertical skiing feet.
Take a trip on the Santa Fe National Forest Scenic Byway for a soothing Sunday drive or for an exciting weekend adventure. From historic Santa Fe to the Santa Fe Ski Area tucked within the solitude of the Sangre de Cristos, experience for yourself this drive loved by both locals and visitors.
Points of Interest
Points of Interest Along The Way
Hyde Memorial State Park (NM)
Sitting at an elevation of over 8,500 feet in the Sangre de Cristos, Hyde Memorial State Park comprises nearly 400 acres of land within the Santa Fe National Forest. Much of the area is covered with evergreens and aspens. For cautious, quiet visitors, wildlife sighting is frequent; deer, raccoon, porcupine, and fox all live here. Recreationalists such as backpackers or skiers often use this prime location as a base camp for exploring the rest of the forest. During winter months, sledding, skiing, and snowshoeing are all enjoyable activities. In addition to year-round camping, picnicking, and recreation, the park provides a fine restaurant and dining facilities.
The Palace of the Governors is the beginning point for the Santa Fe National Forest Scenic Byway. Built in 1610, this adobe edifice is the oldest continuously occupied public building in the United States. At one time, the Palace was the government seat of the Spanish colony. In 1909, New Mexico state legislature decided to establish it as a state history museum, and the building has been used for that purpose for nearly a century.
Santa Fe National Forest (NM)
Santa Fe National Forest covers nearly 1.6 million acres. Due toits expansive acreage, its landscapes vary from open wildflowerfields in lower elevations to the rugged peaks of the Sangre deCristo Mountains, the highest point being the Truchas Peak summitat 13,103 feet. Trees vary from different types of pine and fir to spruce and aspen.
The forest's other wonderful features include its wildernessareas: the Dome Wilderness, the San Pedro Parks Wilderness, theChama River Canyon Wilderness, and the Pecos Wilderness. Eachbrings a different look and feel to the forest. The Dome Wildernesscontains cliff dwellings, the San Pedro Parks Wilderness is filledwith wildlife and fish, the Chama River Canyon Wilderness showssandstone bluffs, and the Pecos Wilderness serves as the primerecreation destination in the entire forest.
The forest's close proximity to Santa Fe may lead visitors tobelieve that it is a crowded tourist attraction; however, it isgenerally overlooked by the cultural diversity of Santa Fe thatattracts higher volumes of visitors. For those that visit thisalpine wilderness, they are rewarded by recreation such as fishing,mountain biking, hiking. The Truchas Peaks area serves as a popularplace to hike. Wildlife watching is also popular; animals such asdeer, elk, bear, and Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep all make theirhomes here.
Santa Fe Ski Area (NM)
The Santa Fe Ski Area serves as the ending point for the Santa Fe National Forest Scenic Byway. Sitting at the perimeter of the Pecos Wilderness Area, it provides access to the wilderness just 3/4 of a mile from the ski area parking lot, at the beginning of a hiking and cross-country ski trail. Reaching a summit of over 12,000 feet, the ski area features 1,725 vertical feet of skiing and 67 trails encompassed in a 660-acre area.