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East to Pecos and Las Vegas

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Five Day-Trip Recommendations 

East to Pecos and Las Vegas

This is “the other Las Vegas,” a frontier railroad town that was part of the historic Old Santa Fe Trail. On the way to Las Vegas on I-25, visit the Pecos National Historical Park.  Fishermen will find excellent fly-fishing along the Pecos River and hikers can enjoy the Pecos Wilderness area.  You can double back to Santa Fe via I-25 or if time permits, take NM 518 from Las Vegas through Mora to NM 78 through Vadito, Penasco and Dixon connecting with NM 68 (low road from Taos) described above.

Pecos Wilderness Area: Hiking and horseback riding are great ways to enjoy the beauty of the Pecos Wilderness. The terrain varies from open meadows in the Pecos River Valley, to the steep canyons of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. Wildlife sightings range from deer and elk to big horn sheep, turkeys, and grouse.

Pecos River: The Pecos River originates high up in the Pecos Wilderness Area of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and provides excellent fishing and grand vistas. Fly fishers seeking isolation, solitude and a bit of adventure might consider the upper reaches of the Pecos or one of its tiny headwater tributaries. Anglers won’t find many other humans, but can discover brightly colored wild brown trout as well as native Rio Grande Cutthroats, New Mexico’s state fish.

Pecos National Historical Park: Located 2 miles south of the town of Pecos on NM 63, this park preserves 12,000 years of history including the ancient pueblo of Pecos, Colonial Missions, Santa Fe Trail sites, 20th century ranch history of Forked Lightning Ranch, and the site of the Civil War Battle of Glorieta Pass. The visitors center contains exhibits, book sales, and a 10-minute introductory film. There is a one and a quarter mile self-guided trail through the Pecos pueblo and mission ruins. Guided tours are available to groups with advance reservations.  505-757-6414 x 1.

Las Vegas: Las Vegas was established in 1835 when a group of settlers received a land grant from the Mexican government. The town is laid out in the traditional Spanish Colonial style, with a central plaza.  During the railroad era, Las Vegas boomed, quickly becoming one of the largest cities in the American Southwest. Turn-of-the-century Las Vegas featured all the modern amenities, including an electric street railway, the Duncan Opera House, a Carnegie library, a major Harvey House hotel, and the New Mexico Normal School (now a state university). The new settlers shunned the local adobe building style, erecting instead the Victorian homes you’ll see there today.  Many our now considered historic structures, with over 900 sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

United World College: The United World College-USA was founded in 1982 in Montezuma, NM (six miles west of Las Vegas) through the philanthropy of Dr. Armand Hammer and is part of an international system that includes twelve pre-university residential schools offering the International Baccalaureate Diploma.  An outstanding historical building on the campus is the Montezuma Castle.  This massive building was originally built in 1882 as a resort for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad. This restored campus building is available for scheduled public tours.  Call for tour times and details. (505) 454-4221 or (505) 454-4288