Scenic USA - New Mexico

Mesalands Scenic Byway

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Mesalands Scenic Byway - St Rose of Lima Cemetery, Guadalupe County, New Mexico

Photos by Terri Prepelka

    Blue Swan Motel - TucumcariWinding through the broad plains of northeastern New Mexico where dinosaurs once roamed, the Mesalands Scenic Byway highlights a half dozen intriguing towns, a few state park lakes and towering mesas that break the skyline. Following at least 10 different highways, the byways loops across Interstate 40 several times from San Jose in the east to Santa Rosa in the west.
   This 320 mile route offers a look into the prehistoric past at the Mesalands Dinosaur Museum, while giving Route 66 fans New Mexico Scenic Byway Sign a rare treat at Tucumcari's authentic diners, trading posts, motels and neon strip. The centerpiece of Santa Rosa Lake State Park is a large reservoir, an anglers delight. The state park's visitor center, high on an overlooking bluff, displays the area's history as well as the creation of the dam. Nearby, the town of Santa Rosa is also famous for its sinkhole lakes. The mysterious Blue Hole, a natural 80 foot deep pool, attracts SCUBA divers to a crystal clear bell-shaped wonder. The St. Rose of Lima Cemetery (main photo), found in the heart of Santa Rosa, holds the ruins of the old church and gravestones that date back to the early 1800s. The Bell Ranch, highlighted by miles of broad mesas, was used to film many western shows and movies. More water recreation, a popular desert getaway, Mesalands at Quay is found at Ute Lake and Conchas Lake. Providing camping, picnicking, and boating, park anglers are proud to add their names to the game-fish record books. Nuestra Senora del Refugio Church South of I-40 in Puerto de Luna, a strong oral history keeps the tales of Billy the Kid alive. Frequently visiting Puerto de Luna, Billy may have lingered too long. In the custody of Pat Garrett, Billy ate his last Christmas dinner at Alexander Grzelachowski's home. Although there are no signs to point out Grzelachowski home, byway travelers will have no trouble finding the Nuestra Senora del Refugio Church, further showing the town's strong Spanish influence. Indicating its importance, Puerto De Luna (door of the moon) was the Guadalupe County seat from 1891 to 1903.

    Byway Map

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