Stops & Shops
In The News
Side Trips - The Turquoise Trail
November 20, 2006
Known as "The Turquoise Trail," NM 14 begins about 16 miles east of downtown Albuquerque, at I-40's Cedar Crest exit, and winds some 46 miles to Santa Fe along the east side of the Sandia Mountains. This state-designated scenic and historic route traverses the revived ghost towns of Golden, Madrid, and Cerrillos, where gold, silver, coal, and turquoise were once mined in great quantities. Modern-day settlers, mostly artists and craftspeople, have brought a renewed frontier spirit to the old mining towns.
Golden -- Golden is approximately 10 miles north of the Sandia Park junction on NM 14. Its sagging houses, with their missing boards and the wind whistling through the broken eaves, make it a purist's ghost town. There's a general store widely known for its large selection of well-priced jewelry, as well as a bottle seller's "glass garden." Nearby are the ruins of a pueblo called Paako, abandoned around 1670. Such communities of mud huts were all that the Spaniards ever found during their avid quest for the gold of Cíbola.
Madrid -- Madrid (pronounced mah-drid) is about 12 miles north of Golden. Madrid and neighboring Cerrillos were in a fabled turquoise-mining area dating back to prehistory. Gold and silver mines followed, and when they faltered, there was coal. The Turquoise Trail towns supplied fuel for the locomotives of the Santa Fe Railroad until the 1950s, when the railroad converted to diesel fuel. Madrid used to produce 100,000 tons of coal a year, but the mine closed in 1956. Today, this is a village of artists and craftspeople seemingly stuck in the 1960s: Its funky, ramshackle houses have many counterculture residents who operate several crafts stores and import shops.
The Old Coal Mine Museum (tel. 505/438-3780) invites visitors to go down into a real mine that was saved when the town was abandoned. You can see the old mine's offices, steam engines, machines, and tools. It's called a living museum because blacksmiths, metalworkers, and leatherworkers ply their trades here in restoring parts and tools found in the mine. It's open daily; admission is $4 for adults, $3 for seniors, $1 for children 6 to 12, and free for children under 6.
Next door, the Mine Shaft Tavern (tel. 505/473-0743) continues its colorful career by offering a variety of burgers and presenting live music Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons; it's open for dinner Friday to Sunday, and it attracts folks from Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Next door is the Madrid Engine House Theater (tel. 505/438-3780), possibly the only such establishment on earth with a built-in steam locomotive on its stage. (The structure had been an engine repair shed; the balcony is made of railroad track.) The place to eat is Native Grill (tel. 505/474-5555) on NM 14, in the center of town. You'll find food prepared with fresh ingredients, a broad range of choices, from pizza and burritos to a veggie bowl (steamed veggies with steak, chicken, or tofu). During the summer it's open from 11am to 6 or 7pm. In winter, it's open intermittently, so call ahead.
Cerrillos -- Cerrillos, about 3 miles north of Madrid, is a village of dirt roads that sprawls along Galisteo Creek. It appears to have changed very little since it was founded during a lead strike in 1879; the old hotel, the saloon, and even the sheriff's office look very much like parts of an Old West movie set. It's another 15 miles to Santa Fe and I-25. If, like me, you're enchanted by the Galisteo Basin, you might want to stay a night or two in nearby Galisteo at the Galisteo Inn (tel. 866/404-8200 or 505/466-4000; www.galisteoinn.com). Set on grassy grounds under towering cottonwood trees, this 250-year-old hacienda has thick adobe walls and all the quiet a person could want. Rooms, all remodeled in 2004, are decorated with brightly painted walls and fun, bold-colored art. Most rooms are not sunny, but this means they stay very cool in summer. The inn serves a full breakfast daily for guests, as well as a prix-fixe dinner (at an extra cost) for guests and others on some nights. (At press time plans were for Tues-Sat and Sun brunch, though inquire ahead.) There's a lovely pool large enough to swim laps, a hot tub, and guided horseback riding. The inn is located on NM 41, 15 miles from Cerrillos via the dirt County Road 42.
Construction AlertDetails about roadway construction on NM 14
Independent, non-commercial, listener-supported, volunteer-run, freeform, community radio from Madrid, NM!
Event details » View all events »
Pay Membership Dues
Turquoise Trail Association members can pay dues online using Credit Card.