On Safari in New Mexico | Fauna Travel

On Safari in New Mexico

Elk at Vermejo / Courtesy of Ted Turner Reserves

11 Days

Before the 19th century, the American West had a quantity of wildlife rivaling Africa’s plains. Media giant Ted Turner has dedicated himself to restoring some of that former glory on his private ranches. As a result, New Mexico has become one of the best places outside of Yellowstone to see wild megafauna in the United States. This itinerary explores our favorite Turner Reserves ranches and stops in Albuquerque and Santa Fe for a taste of New Mexican culture.

New Mexico has become one of the best places outside of Yellowstone to see wild megafauna in the United States. This itinerary explores our favorite wildlife ranches along with a taste of New Mexican culture.

Your custom travel playlist includes music by Freddie Brown
New Mexico native, Freddie Brown, walks the line between country, rock and roll, and Spanish music. His music makes a soulful accompaniment to any Southwest road trip.

Day 1-2: Albuquerque

Los Poblanos Inn & Historic Site

Albuquerque is a natural starting point for a New Mexico drive because of its major airport, but it also has one of our favorite hotels in the country. We suggest starting your journey with a short stay at Los Poblanos Inn. It’s only 15 minutes from the airport, but it feels like it’s in the country.

We can book you anything from a standard SUV to a luxury sports cars at the airport. After picking up your vehicle, make the short drive to the hotel for some time to relax around the pool. End the day with dinner and drinks at Campo, their excellent farm-to-table restaurant.

Los Poblanos Inn lavender fields / Courtesy of Los Poblanos

Wake up the next morning for another meal at the restaurant–the chilaquiles are the best we’ve ever had! Then, stock up on supplies at the farm store and drive south towards Truth or Consequences.

Day 3-5: Armendaris Ranch

Armendaris Hacienda or Sierra Grande

Landscape at Armendaris / Courtesy of Ted Turner Reserves
Landscape at Armendaris / Courtesy of Ted Turner Reserves

The next destination is Armendaris and Ladder Ranch, two massive Turner ranches in arid southern New Mexico. Turner Reserves owns the historic Sierra Grande hot spring hotel in Truth or Consequences, which can be used as a base to explore the ranches on day tours. Alternatively, you can book Turner’s private homes on either ranch. At Armendaris Hacienda you will still see their family photos and private book collection on display.

The 360,000-acre Armendaris Ranch is located in the Chihuahuan desert and is a fantastic adventure. Guests can trek through the vast landscape, with a chance to spot native bison, pronghorn, and desert bighorn sheep. The property is also home to one of the largest populations of Mexican free-tailed bats in the United States. The nearby 156,000-acre Ladder property is also naturally diverse but has petroglyphs, pottery shards, and adobe ruins that connect visitors to New Mexico’s history.

Day 11-13: Santa Fe

Bishops Lodge

From Truth or Consequences, drive back through Albuquerque and onward to Santa Fe for a stay at Bishop’s Lodge, an Auberge property ideally placed to explore the old town and the trails in the Santa Fe National Forest. Settle in at the lodge and explore the hiking trails around the property before dinner.

Hiking at Bishops Lodge / Courtesy of Auberge Resorts luxury New Mexico nature lodge

Spend your first day on one of Bishop Lodge’s excursions into the adjacent Santa Fe National Forest. Options include longer hikes, horseback riding, mountain biking, or fly fishing. On your final day in Santa Fe, explore the historic Old Town. There are a variety of shops and restaurants here, so we’ll help you narrow down your list and make dinner reservations.

Day 6-10: Vermejo

Vermejo Casa Grande

Pack a picnic lunch from Bishop’s Lodge and drive north to Vermejo. The ranch is a luxury nature lodge on over 550,000 acres of restored wilderness. It is larger than many national parks and includes snowcapped mountains, deserts, 19 fishable lakes, and 30 miles of streams.

Bison at Vermejo / Courtesy of Ted Turner Reserves
Bison at Vermejo / Courtesy of Ted Turner Reserves

Vermejo protects a wild variety of wildlife, including elk, bison, black bears, and mountain lion. The property is famous for its “American Safari.” Guests can explore it all on foot, bike, or horseback. Other outdoor activities include shooting, fishing, and guided tours.

The property itself has a range of accommodations. Casa Grande is a 25,000-square-foot luxury mansion from the early 1900s near the ranch headquarters. The Costilla Fishing Lodge, certified LEED silver, is a sizeable solar-powered timber cabin designed for wilderness excursions at a higher elevation. The lodge’s porch and many decks offer incredible views across the landscape to watch the sunset. We suggest three or four nights here to take it all in.

Day 11: Departure

On your final day, drive back to Albuquerque for your flight home. We suggest an alternate driving route via Taos through Santa Fe to diversify your drive. Depending on your flight time, you may want to stay another night at Los Poblanos.

We’ve sent you some reading material, including American Serengeti
Dan Flores’s book American Serengeti is one of the most readable and informative ecological histories of the American West. It paints a dramatic picture of wild splendor and the tragedy it faced after the Civil War. View on Amazon

Itinerary Map

Contact us to start planning your journey into the wild.

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