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Correction: Travel-Trip-New Mexico story

Monday - 4/29/2013, 6:40pm  ET

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- In a travel story April 26 about New Mexico, The Associated Press provided the wrong website for Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs. The correct website is .

A corrected version of the story is below:

New Mexico: Native pueblos to Georgia O'Keeffe

History, landscape, art echo across New Mexico, from native pueblos to Georgia O'Keeffe


AP Travel Editor

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- Striped balloons dot a bright blue sky. Red rocks silhouette a lone dead tree. A white ladder leans on a brown adobe dwelling.

On a road trip around New Mexico, this mix of motifs and cultures seems to echo across the centuries and turn up at every stop, whether you're visiting 1,000-year-old native villages, churches from the era of Spanish conquistadors or the landscape that inspired 20th century painter Georgia O'Keeffe.

Logistically, a trip that includes all these attractions is easy: Fly to Albuquerque, rent a car, and plan hotel stays in Santa Fe, 65 miles (105 kilometers) away, and Taos, 70 miles (113 kilometers) beyond that. Side trips might include Abiquiu, where O'Keeffe lived; Ojo Caliente, for hot springs; Sky City, a native pueblo about 60 miles (97 kilometers) west of Albuquerque, and the Enchanted Circle, a scenic driving loop that starts in Taos. Driving between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, another scenic byway called the Turquoise Trail or High Road offers a nice alternative to Interstate 25, with stops in tiny places like Madrid, a former ghost town, and Cerrillos, a one-time mining town.


Sunrise, sunset. Those are the best times to experience two of Albuquerque's top attractions: the Sandia Peak tram and hot-air ballooning.

The 15-minute tram goes up 4,000 feet (1,219 meters), with spectacular views of the Sandia Mountains, the city of Albuquerque and, if you time your trip right, sunset in the western sky;, $20. For dinner, head to nearby El Pinto, 10500 Fourth St. NW. Try sopapillas, "little pillows" of fried bread, and carne adovada, meat marinated in a red chile sauce.

For ballooning, set your alarm early: Riders assemble around 6 a.m. for flights in May and June. And swallow your fears. Rides are gentle and downright magical. As I floated serenely above a forest and the Rio Grande River, the balloon's shadow was perfectly silhouetted in black on the landscape below. Other balloons dotted the skies as children waved from schoolyards and drivers looked up. But get ready for sticker shock. Calls to several balloon companies found $159 was the going rate the day I went; eventually I chose World Balloon, Prices are higher certain times of year.

Other Albuquerque stops: Old Town, a plaza dating to 1706, with eateries, souvenir shops, and the San Felipe Church; and the Frontier Restaurant, 2400 Central SE, by the University of New Mexico campus, a lively cafeteria with simple, yummy fare like tortilla soup.


For nearly 1,000 years, the Acoma people have lived on a sandstone mesa 370 feet (113 meters) above the desert floor in a pueblo called Sky City. Tours led by tribe members tell the story of how they have maintained their culture and traditions through centuries of challenges, including the Spanish conquistadors' violent incursions beginning in the 1500s. San Esteban del Rey Mission Church, a National Trust Historic Site that dates to 1629, was built by Spanish conquistadors using the forced labor of natives compelled to drag 20,000 tons of stone, mud, straw and wood to the mesa.

A few families live year-round in the adobe complexes, which are multi-level connected dwellings, with round adobe ovens outside and wooden ladders accessing upper floors. Beautiful pottery and other native crafts are offered for sale throughout the village. The 90-minute, $23 tour is usually offered daily March-November; confirm the schedule and get directions at


If you time your visit to Abiquiu right, you can spend the night, take a morning hike, grab a green chile cheeseburger at Bode's General Store for lunch, and squeeze in two O'Keeffe tours.

O'Keeffe owned a rustic home at a remote place called Ghost Ranch, and a bus tour takes you around the ranch to see features in the landscape that inspired her. A lone dead tree in a field, framed by distant red rocks, is unmistakably the subject of her painting "Gerald's Tree." A flattop mesa called Cerro Pedernal, another of O'Keefe's favorite subjects, is easy to pick out as you gaze at the Jemez Mountains. And O'Keeffe's famous "Ladder to the Moon" shows a ladder like the ones outside adobe homes in the pueblos; she used a ladder to climb on her roof for stargazing.

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