The Old Santa Fe Trail
Follow the historic route from Las Vegas to Raton, New Mexico.
The legendary Old Santa Fe Trail spanned 900 miles and passed through five states; it was a vital part of spreading development throughout the Southwest, until the railroad became more widespread. Today’s traveler can experience the 19th-century route—dotted with manmade and natural landmarks—in sections. One of the best is the stretch of I-25, from Las Vegas to Raton, NM.
1 The Plaza Hotel, Las Vegas
Located on the Old Town Plaza in Las Vegas, New Mexico, this three-story Italianate hotel was known as the Belle ofÂ the Southwest when it was first built in 1882. Completely restored exactly 100 years later, the hotel stillÂ incorporates original design elements: walnut staircases lead from the lobby to the 71 guestrooms, which containÂ high ceilings, carved wood furniture, Old West-style antiques, and in some rooms, floor-to-ceiling windowsÂ overlooking the plaza. The full-service Landmark Grill serves New Mexican-inspired cuisine such as huevosÂ rancheros, while Byron T.â€™s Saloon provides late night drinks and occasional live music under a painted tin roof.
2 Charlie's Spic & Span Bakery & CafÃ©
A large cake jutting from the top of the building marks this popular cafÃ© in the downtown historic district. Inside, the no-frills space is designed in pastel hues with painted windows, simple wooden tables, and a chalkboard menu. The main focus here is the authentic New Mexican cuisine, particularly the freshly baked tortillasâ€”which are prepared right in front of customersâ€”and the homemade desserts paired with Starbucks coffee. Charlieâ€™s specialties include the blue corn enchiladas, the stuffed sopaipillas topped with spicy green chiles, and the bakeryâ€™s famous doughnuts, which many claim are the best in town.
3 Fort Union National Monument
Learn about the settlement of the Santa Fe Trail at Fort Union National Monument, the largest fort from Americaâ€™s late-19th-century frontier period.
4 Mount Dora
The 6,290-foot-high peak is a landmark along the Old Santa Fe Trail.