More cheap/free travel tips

Reader Paul has some more very solid advice! I’ll be working these details into the next edition of the guide.

1. NM Rail Runner Train (p. 120). Current fares $9 OW, $10 day pass. Buy ticket either online or on the train. In Albuquerque, buses 250 and 50 connect the Alvarado train station to the ABQ airport Mon – Sat. Sundays there is no connection. Bus service is free by showing your valid train ticket. [This is covered in the back of the book, but not sure I noted that the bus is free with your Rail Runner ticket–very helpful!]

2. Sandia Shuttle Express — fare is now $30 OW. If one is taking the last run of the night, call the toll free number and let them know. Also, Sandia works in the opposite direction, picking up at your location in SF and delivering you to ABQ airport.

3. Santa Fe Public Library, 145 Washington Avenue, a block and a half north of the plaza, (505) 955-6781, . A great place to spend a rainy afternoon. Many out of town newspapers. A small but well stocked bookstore, paperbacks $1, hardcovers $2. I don’t remember your mentioning it, however the library is marked on the map on p. 77.

4. Ghost Ranch, p. 113. Perhaps worth more emphasis is that GR has many week-long programs mostly emphasizing the arts (painting, photography, jewelry making), the outdoors, and ministry (given GR’s connection to the Presbyterian church). Most but not all programs happen in the summer. [There’s a bit about this in the back of the book under Classes.]

5. Music on the Hill, free concerts in Santa Fe on Wednesday evenings at St. John’s College, Museum Hill area, Santa Fe. I spent two weeks at St. John’s College last month and noticed that people turned out from all over to attend these concerts. Incidentally (shameless plug), St. John’s College is one of last remaining college curricula based on the Western and now Eastern classics. It has campuses in Santa Fe and Annapolis.

6. Santa Fe International Hostel, p. 94. You describe it well, particularly the “dimly-lit” part, however, I love the place and would stay there even if I had the money to stay somewhere fancier. Why? Intriguing people of all ages from all over the world stay there. Also: free food (but check the expiri date) and no taxes added to the price. Plus, doing the morning chore helps establish a bond to the place. So might you consider dropping the “not the worst” phrase? The hostel deserves better. [Always good to get firsthand reports from hotels, as I never have the time to stay in each and every one myself. Thank you so much!]

Car-free travel tips

Reader Paul writes:

As an extreme budget traveler, I use public transit all I can. You might consider mentioning that transportation between Santa Fe and Los Alamos is available M-F (only) for a mere $3 cash each way via New Mexico Park and Ride. Don’t be deterred by the name — one need not have any vehicle to park to use this service. In Los Alamos, the Mesa Library stop puts one right in the midst of historic, Manhattan project Los Alamos. And the buses are big and cushy too.

See this website for more
and especially the schedule at

It’s the “blue route” that I am referring to. (Don’t confuse that with the Blue Bus that is completely different.)

One more point: for $10 one can buy a day pass on the NM Rail Runner (pay cash once on board) and so travel between Albuquerque and Santa Fe and back again (in the same day) with free passage on buses in both of those cities. It’s a great way to see the state and cheap too.

Santa Fe changes

Santa Fe Children’s Museum is closed. (Officially temporarily, but no reopening date is set.)

Marble Tap Room is closed.

Chuck Jones Studio Gallery has moved to 126 W. Water St.

Eight Modern gallery has moved to 1601 Paseo de Peralta.

La Fonda hotel has undergone some terrible renovations in the lobby, so it’s not so nice and old-feeling anymore. The lobby bar is a lot more generic.

Ecco Gelato moved down and across the street.

Santa Fe Baking Co. is closed.

St. Michael’s Laundry is closed.

I don’t usually rave about new things, BUT: MEOW WOLF IS AMAZING.

Southeast NM changes

Clovis: the Clovis Depot train museum is closed.

The Blackwater Draw Museum will be moving to the ENMU campus in the fall.

Casa del Sol B&B is closed.

Sunland Peanuts is closed (and has been for a long time; I thought it was going to reopen last time I passed, but it never did!).

Country Club B&B is closed.

Sale Barn Cafe is closed.

The Stock Exchange is now The Lucky Bull Grill, and it has more of a sports-bar vibe.

Cloud Cafe is closed.

Dreamcatcher cafe is closed.

Roy’s Gift Gallery is closed. RIP, Roy! Thanks for sharing delicious ice-cream sodas and great stories!

Silver City changes

Javalina Coffee moved to 117 W. Market St.

Vicki’s Eatery is open for breakfast only on Sat and Sun now.

Shevek & Co. is closed. Shevek opened Burgers & Brownies & Beer, Oh My! across the street.

Millie’s Bake House moved to 602 N. Bullard St., the ex-Shevek spot.

River Ranch Market is closed.

Masa y Mas is closed.

Curious Kumquat is open, but will close by the end of the year–hurry up! :)

And the Buckhorn Saloon in Pinos Altos, which was closed for a little while to renovate, is now open again and better than ever.

(Even with all this shuffling around in the food scene, I still say Silver is a great place to eat. Especially happy with Burgers & Brownies…)

Pecos, Las Vegas and northeast NM updates

La Risa Cafe is closed.

Madison Winery is closed.

Kiva Theater in Las Vegas is closed. But there’s a new theater, called Indigo Theater.

El Rialto restaurant/bar is closed.

Plaza Hotel has been rehabbed since 2014. The bar is livelier and bigger and has live music, and the restaurant has a new chef.

Jespersen’s Cache in Springer is open only by appointment.

Robin Hood Motel in Raton is closed.

Boomers BBQ is closed.

The Porch Cafe in Cimarron is now open only in summers.

Deming, Lordsburg, and Rodeo

Forghedaboudit Pizza has moved into downtown Deming, to 115 Silver St.

Elisa’s House of Pies is SO good! (Not really an update, but…) Also, their current hours are 8am-7pm Mon.-Fri., 9:30am-7pm Sat., 9am-3pm Sun.

Triple J Cafe (Lordsburg) is closed again. I don’t know why I get my hopes up for this place.

Skeleton Canyon (site of Geronimo’s surrender, south of Rodeo) is now gated off.

Las Cruces

Hilltop Hacienda B&B is closed.

The Whole Enchilada Festival is no more. It may be renamed and continue, however.

The mariachi festival is now in June, not November.

Emilia’s on the Plaza in Mesilla is open only Thursday to Sunday now.

The Bean coffee house is now open until 5pm. The correct phone number is 575/527-5155.

Habaneros Fresh Mex has moved to 600 E. Amador Ave. Much nicer setup!

Nellie’s Cafe has just closed.

Truth or Consequences

Exotic Cactus Ranch is closed.

Spaceport America tours now do visit the spaceport itself, but only a tiny side wing, built out specifically for the tours. With Virgin Galactic’s launch delayed, this still isn’t quite as thrilling a tour as it might be one day.

Hay-Yo-Kay hot springs is now called La Paloma Too (run by adjacent La Paloma motel), and has longer opening hours.

Happy Belly Deli is closed.

White Coyote Cafe is closed.

Socorro and the Plains of San Agustin

The Loma cinema (Socorro) is closed.

The Socorro Old Town B&B phone number is now 575/418-9454.

Socorro Springs Brewery no longer makes its own beer, and its food is only so-so.

The Western Motel (Magdalena) phone number is now 575/412-7278.

M&M Cafe (Magdalena) has moved to 404 2nd Street, one block off the main drag. It’s in Magdalena Hall Hotel. Hours are noon-5pm Wed.-Sun. Phone 575-517-5290.

Rancho Magdalena phone number is now 575/517-0644.

Grants to Zuni

In Grants, Southwest Motel is excellent. So is El Cafecito. Gross oversight that I haven’t had them in previous editions–but they’ll be in the next.

Coco Bean Cafe (also Grants) is open only to 5:30pm on weekdays.

The Northwest New Mexico visitors center is now called the El Malpais visitor center — roughly the same services/facilities, though with a stronger focus on public lands, as it’s run by the National Park Service.

The Crownpoint rug auction now accepts credit cards and checks.

The Ice Cave now closes for the winter (though has just reopened, as of March 1).

Tinaja Navajo Cafe has much more limited hours, and in fact closes earlier than stated. Officially: 10am-6:30pm Thurs.-Sun. (Also, the building is for sale…which isn’t a great sign.)

The phone number for Inn at Halona (Zuni) is now 505/782-4547.

Los Alamos/Espanola

Apologies–a helpful reader wrote to tell me the phone number for Atomic City Van Tours is wrong. It should be 505-662-3965.

She also reported that the Chimayo Trading Post in Espanola appears to be on a serious downhill slide–it does not smell good! This doesn’t bode well for the very elderly owner. End of an era, alas!

Silver City updates

Figures: as soon as I highlight Silver City as a great place to eat, a bunch of the restaurants close! Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a good place to eat–but the scene has changed.

–Alotta Gelato closed.
–Shevek & Co. closed. But the owner is taking over the Alotta Gelato space with a new casual spot serving burgers and brownies and beer.

–Buffalo Bar has closed. (This happened a while ago–felt like I should’ve heard a bulletin on Dive Bar Wire.) This at least means it’s quieter at the Palace Hotel.

–The Curious Kumquat *will* be closing at some point in the coming year. The exact date depends on when he sells the building.

Outside Albuquerque

The church at Laguna is now open officially only 9am-3pm Mon-Fri. When I dropped by, Alfred Pino wasn’t around, though the woman in the church office said he still comes by from time to time.

The Cerrillos Hills B&B is closed.

In Mountainair, the Shaffer Hotel has new management, as of this spring, and looks in great shape again. Excellent homemade pie in the dining room, and it’s open 6am-9pm most days.

Albuquerque changes

The Candy Lady has moved, just one block, to 424 San Felipe St. NW. (The sneaky thing is that a different candy shop took over the old location–don’t be fooled.)

Hispaniae, the shop in Old Town, is closing.

Routes, the bike-rental company, has moved to a spot in Old Town: 404 San Felipe St. NW.

The A Store, a shop in Nob Hill, has moved a few blocks, to 3339 Central NE.

Stevie’s Happy Bikes, in Corrales, has moved a little bit north, to 4685 Corrales Rd.

Santa Fe changes

Just a couple of preliminary details:

La Cocina de Dona Clara has changed its menu [AND its name!] in its plaza location, I guess to cater more to tourists looking for New Mexican things–so you can’t get the full array of Mexican stuff here that you used to find. (But the main Dona Clara joint, out on Airport Road, still serves the usual menu.)

Play, the children’s store, has moved to 505 Cerrillos Road closed.

Enchanted Circle

Well, that didn’t take long: Los Amigos in Questa is closed. Which means there’s really nowhere good to eat here. The situation is bad enough that you might suggest driving the Enchanted Circle route the other direction (Questa first, then Red River, etc.), then you could eat late lunch at Hatcha’s in Angel Fire.

On the other hand, the DH Lawrence Ranch is OPEN! I had a rather bleak outlook on this when I was updating the book last fall. But now UNM has made some upgrades, and there’s a docent on-site three days a week: Monday, Thursday and Saturday, 10am to 4pm, through October. (Not yet sure if it will be open at all in the winter–I suspect not, as it’s a pretty rugged dirt road.)

Finally, the Elizabethtown Museum is CLOSED on Sundays.

This means you might not want to drive the Enchanted Circle on a Sunday, unless you’re going purely for scenery. Just too much is shut.

Jemez Springs

Los Ojos isn’t the only dinner option here now–the Jemez Stage Stop Cafe, just across the street, is open for dinner on Fridays and Mondays as well.

Also, the directions for Spence Hot Springs are still a bit garbled (oof, didn’t I correct these after the first edition?). The parking area for the trail to the springs is 2 miles north of Battleship Rock–not just half a mile. The trail down to the river is now quite wide and smooth; it’s going back up the hill on the other side that’s a bit more work.

And finally, a change in history: Jemez Historic Site (which was called Jemez State Monument) has revised its archaeological information. Research now apparently suggests that the site was not abandoned in the mid-1600s, as was previously believed, and that people inhabited the site at least until 1694. A small detail–but a good reminder that even the past sometimes needs updating.

NM news

A few items of very specific local interest, which I’m posting here to remind myself, and perhaps for others to check out while passing through:

  • The podcast 99% invisible recently did a piece on a strange Cold War underground elementary school/nuclear fallout shelter in Artesia. Follow the link for cool photos from inside the school!
  • Gordon Ramsay’s Hotel Hell show visited Meson de Mesilla, a hotel in Las Cruces that is not in the book, because…well, it needed a makeover. I don’t know whether Ramsay’s touch produces really helpful change, or just high-volume TV–but I’ll keep an eye on the reviews of the place. Meson de Mesilla is in a handy location, very close to Mesilla, and if it is made over well, it will be a good addition to that area.
  • Also in Las Cruces, Hotel Encanto is now the official hotel of Virgin Galactic. Which means, it seems, that there will be a few crazy-high-end suites. Probably not useful for the average traveler, but it probably does mean the general infrastructure of this hotel will continue to be kept up well.

Santa Rosa

Lake Park in Santa Rosa is now charging a $5 (cash only) parking fee. This is ostensibly to pay for upkeep of the park–but at the moment, says a friend, the lake is looking pretty grungy and not very well maintained. Plus, the diving board is closed!

Here’s hoping Santa Rosa will put the cash infusion to good use–the lake there is normally a great refreshing spot just off the interstate.

The New Edition Is Here!

moonnm3Please welcome the new, the lovely, the FULL-COLOR Moon New Mexico 2014!

True to form, there is of course already one correction to add:

Triple J Cafe in Lordsburg looked pretty dead when I zipped by on the Amtrak recently (For Rent sign in the window). But Ramona’s is still open.

I’m heading back to New Mexico in a few weeks, to update Moon Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque, so there will likely be more updates posted here soon.

Los Alamos

The Hill Diner is closed. Probably for a while now…

On the plus side, Pajarito Brewpub has opened, and it looks pretty popular. It’s in the same mini-mall area as Blue Window Bistro, kitty-corner across the parking lot.


Heavy rains have done damage all over the state, closing some areas and roads. Check for road status (a useful link anytime), and be sure to call ahead to parks and other attractions in more remote areas. (Gila Cliff Dwellings, for instance, is currently closed due to flooding.)

Santa Fe Food

I mentioned earlier that Trattoria Nostrani had changed to a French place, Vivre. Now that’s closed too, as is the ramen place adjacent, Shibumi Ramenya.

I also mentioned that Bobcat Bite closed. Happily, it has reopened as Santa Fe Bite, in Garrett’s Desert Inn, at the corner of Old Santa Fe Trail and Alameda. Same great burgers, big new space, and everyone seems really happy.


Whoa, Colt Motel is pretty much done for. Really down at the heels. Sorry to see this.

Also, the Budget Host Melody Lane has changed owners, just FYI. Everything seems fine so far, but the previous owner had the highest standards imaginable, so it will be tough to follow. But the steam baths are still there and working…

And, WOW: the Maverick Motel! I don’t normally mention new discoveries here in the updates, but this place is *so* time-capsule wonderful, I have to tell everyone. Super-1940s, snug rooms, chenille bedspreads, all adorable and museum-ish. Very south edge of town, by the ramps to I-25.

Other closings: Chris’s Bakery is gone (sigh, no more doughnuts). Crystal Cafe was not open, when it should have been–but it didn’t look out of business. Anyway, Boomers BBQ, just south of there, is new and great.