Above: A herd of bison at Vermejo Park Ranch in Raton, New Mexico

On arrival in Albuquerque, rather than heading up I-25 to Santa Fe, we took a leisurely 54-mile drive along the scenic Turquoise Trail (NM Highway 14), passing forested state parks, former mining towns, pottery shops and even an alpaca farm. Then, skirting downtown, we headed directly to our first hotel, Ten Thousand Waves, a Japanese-inspired spa resort nestled in the foothills of New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains — which glow red at sunset, hence the name — four miles northeast of the Santa Fe Plaza. Upon arrival, we breathed deeply the scent of pinyon pines, juniper trees and the sweet smell of sagebrush.

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