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The New Moab: Exploring Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico

Hot springs, camping, hiking, dog-friendly national parks, skiing, optional glamping - Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico offer everything to fuel your adventurous spirit!

By: Holly Mandarich + Save to a List

Every off-season I find myself wanting to head to the majestic land of Moab. What’s not to love? Hiking through red rocks and all the other great neature (yes, neature). However I always find myself getting bid out by others. The place just is too popular! Being based out of Vail, Colorado, it's a quick drive, but everyone from Denver and Salt Lake City will meet ya there. 

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, we set out on an adventure to head south instead of west. Exploring the Taos area and the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Southern Colorado. 

Five hours south to Taos, the first night we stayed at an adorable little glamping place called Hotel Luna Mystica. You can hear all about that here. Thanksgiving day we explored the town of Taos, eating sliced turkey and peach pie out of the 4runner (with no utensils, might I add). Then we made our way down to the Manby Hot Springs for a dip, nearby you also have Black Rocks Hot Springs to play in. The night of Thanksgiving we packed up the car and headed to the sand dunes about two hours north from Taos.

Just outside the park there is a campground called Zapata Falls, which is open ALL YEAR ROUND, I would definitely recommend having a higher clearance vehicle to make your way, but if you take it slow enough, even your Camry can make it up the road. The campground offers PLENTY of room with views overlooking Los Alamos and you can even get a great view of the moonset in the off season. The campground ended up being $11 bucks a night and comes highly recommended being that the park closes their campgrounds in the winter. Check out the hike to Zapata Falls, too.

Waking up on Black Friday outside was like a dream! After an early morning fire to warm up, we headed into the park and played on the dunes for hours. The best part is your kids (woof) can come. Seriously though, pups are allowed in the park! BRING YOUR DOG (leashed, of course)!

I can't even begin to describe the magic that the Southwest offered. As always, it was never enough time; I could come back time and time again and find hiking, skiing, hot springs and more adventures. Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado, in my personal opinion, are the new Moab. With so much room, smaller crowds, and all the sights to see, head south next time you get the chance. 

You can see all the photos from the adventure here.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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