Autumn in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Southern Colorado

Wanting to enjoy an “Artist Retreat” weekend, I chose to fly to Santa Fe, New Mexico to explore the landscape through my camera lens. I’ve visited New Mexico a few times over the years.  However, this time I chose to relax, explore the local mountains and drive to Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, is a city where the fusion of natural beauty and rich history creates an unparalleled sense of place. Nestled in the Sangre de Cristo foothills, Santa Fe boasts stunning high desert landscapes characterized by expansive skies, rugged mountains, and the warm hues of adobe buildings. Founded in 1610, Santa Fe is one of the oldest cities in the United States.

Southern Colorado, just a short distance from Santa Fe, offers its own breathtaking beauty and historical significance. I loved getting up exceptionally early, driving and enjoying the sunrise in Colorado. It’s one of my favorite states in the US.

The scenic byways offered spectacular views of rugged landscapes and historic sites, which pleased me on my drive to Mesa Verde National Park.

Mesa Verde National Park, located in southwestern Colorado, is a crown jewel of the region, showcasing some of the most remarkable archaeological sites in North America. Established in 1906 to preserve the ancient cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Puebloans, the park spans over 52,000 acres of mesas and canyons.

The cliff dwellings, such as Cliff Palace and Balcony House, are intricately constructed homes built into the alcoves of canyon walls, reflecting the ingenuity and resilience of their builders.

After a day of driving to Mesa Verde, I thought it would be a great idea to then drive over to Great Sand Dunes National Park, located in southern Colorado near the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

This was ambitious, to put it nicely. The Great Sand Dunes Nation Park is home to the tallest sand dunes in North America, some rising over 750 feet high. These vast dunes are a striking contrast to the surrounding grasslands, wetlands, and alpine forests, creating a diverse and dramatic landscape.

The history of Great Sand Dunes National Park is intertwined with the natural forces that shaped it and the Native American tribes, such as the Ute and Navajo, who have long revered this area.

It’s here that I realized I needed a true bushing up on my night photography skills. But hey, at least I tried.

Together, each destination offered a unique glimpse into the past and a testament to the enduring beauty of the American Southwest. Exploring these regions provides a journey through diverse cultures, landscapes, and histories, revealing the deep connections between the land and the people who have called it home for centuries.