Allow approximately nine hours for entire tour.
Petroglyph National Monument
Welcome to New Mexico! After an overnight and breakfast in Rio Rancho, it is only appropriate that you start at the true beginning of the history of the area, with a tour of Petroglyph National Monument. More than 15,000 designs etched directly into lava rock were created centuries ago by Native American artisans. The Petroglyph National Monument is 15 minutes from Rio Rancho hotels. The tour is 45 minutes to an hour. Call (505) 899-0205 x 338 for information on a ranger-guided tour.
Albuquerque's Old Town
Head to Albuquerque's Old Town, where the City began in 1706. Stroll through the plaza (how the Spanish refer to a town square) and enjoy adobe shops, galleries, and hidden treasures tucked away along side streets. Native American artisans spread blankets on the ground showcasing their handmade jewelry, pottery, and textiles for sale. Standing like a fortress at the plaza's north end is San Felipe de Neri Church, almost 300 years old and still holding religious services. Old Town is 20 minutes from the Petroglyphs; allow two to two and a half hours for walking tour and lunch at one of Old Town's many restaurants.
After lunch, select one of the two options below.
Option One - Corrales Drive north along Rio Grande Boulevard, lined with beautiful haciendas (estates) and horse farms, lush with centuries-old cottonwoods. Enter the Village of Corrales, an enchanting trip along the 7-mile-long Corrales Road Scenic Byway. Enjoy a tour of Casa San Ysidro, a restored Spanish Colonial rancho complete with living quarters, cookhouse, and barn. A collection of more than 1,300 items is exhibited on the premises: religious objects, household items, furniture, blacksmith tools, early agricultural implements, and Native American pottery and blankets. It is 25 minutes from Old Town; allow two hours for driving tour and a tour of the Casa. For group reservations, please call Casa San Ysidro at (505) 898-3915.
Option Two - Sandia Peak Tramway
See Albuquerque from another point of view, from high atop the Sandia Mountains. Take the Sandia Peak Tramway 2.7 miles up to the 10,378-foot peak. You'll pass through four of the earth's seven life zones, and may spot black bears or mule deer on the way up. Enjoy the spectacular view from the top. Enjoy the Interpretive Center, two restaurants, and gift shop. The Sandia Peak Tramway is 30 minutes from Old Town; allow 2 hours for tram and exploration / sight-seeing on top. For group rates, please call Deborah Owen (505) 856-6419.
Whichever option you choose, relax at the end of the day. Dig into authentic New Mexican cuisine at one of many fine restaurants or enjoy fine Italian food at Joe's Pasta House in Rio Rancho. For group menus and reservations, please call Joe Guzzardi at (505) 892-3333.
Insider's tip at Mexican restaurants: When your server asks "red or green?", he/she is referring to the type of chile served in or over your meal. Hotness varies, so just ask. If you're not sure, ask for both-on the side.