Three New Mexico towns are destinations in the Golden Triangle Tour, offering an array of experiences for group excursions.
Santa Fe, Las Vegas and Taos have strong and distinct Indian, Spanish and Old West influences which make this journey an adventure into northern New Mexico history and culture.
At the center of the Golden Triangle is the original Old Las Vegas, anchored on either side by two national treasures.
There are many reasons to visit Las Vegas, said Lavinia Fenzi, Las Vegas San Miguel Convention and Visitor Bureau executive director and REACH New Mexico Living and Learning Program director.
REACH stands for recreational, educational, agricultural, cultural and historical programming.
Pecos National Historical Park, on the tour from Santa Fe through the Village of Pecos to Las Vegas, preserves one of the oldest and most impressive Native American pueblo ruins (built in A.D. 1100), a Spanish mission and a stretch of the Santa Fe Trail. An interpretive center is on site and is interesting to explore.
Fort Union National Monument, 30 minutes from Las Vegas in Mora County, offers a tour of ruins. It explains the significance of the U.S. to expand its commercial interests and protect the Santa Fe Trail trade route through this New Mexico entry point.
Las Vegas is New Mexico’s best-preserved outdoor architectural museum, with 900 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Old Town Plaza reflects the influence that Mexican, Jewish, Spanish and European settlers and merchants had in building the community. Visit Santa Fe Trail Interpretive Center on Bridge Street and the City of Las Vegas Museum and Teddy Roosevelt Memorial Collection.
Montezuma Castle in Las Vegas, a crown jewel of historic preservation, was constructed in 1881 by the railroad and has operated as a luxury resort hotel, a Jesuit school and is now home to the U.S. site of international United World College.
Expert guided tours and history lectures connect visitors with the past through walking tours, visual presentations, interactive discussions, readings and reenactments.
The Citizens Committee for Historic Preservation, experts from Rough Rider Museum, the Santa Fe Trail Interpretive Center, academics from local colleges and local historians can be scheduled to share the area’s rich history.
Galleries, studios and cottage industry in Las Vegas and San Miguel County is represented by a eclectic range of artists and craftsmen that produce and show unique works both decorative and functional. Tours, demonstrations, meet-the-artist shows and hands-on creative workshops can be scheduled for groups.
Weaving and fiber arts create a tapestry of color and patterns. Spinning demonstrations, workshops and tours are scheduled at Mora Valley Spinning Mill and Victory Alpaca Ranch near Las Vegas.
High mountain recreation and nature adventures can be arranged in Pecos and Mora with local outfitters and nature guides that include hiking, horseback trail rides, photography trips, fishing expeditions to little-known high-country lakes and rivers, campfires and barbeques, skiing or high-country golf.
Traditional Native New Mexico foods and contemporary spins on recipes can be enjoyed by groups with on-site presentations about the history and culture of Native foods.
“A Taste of Las Vegas is a popular theme for groups, which can include tastings, hands-on culinary cooking classes or demonstrations,” Fenzi said. “Pairing a New Mexico wine tasting or local micro-brewery tasting is always popular.”
Performing arts events and festivals are abundant throughout the year and are perfect times to schedule a group tour, she said.
Private group events can include a private historic homes tour with docent, mariachi demonstration or New Mexico dance group performance. A variety of musicians and vocal artists can be arranged to provide entertainment, technical instruction or a historical perspective on cultural art forms.
Ecology and environmental programs can be tailored for groups.
Birding at Las Vegas National Wildlife Bird Refuge, learning about healthy forests and watershed restoration through New Mexico Highlands University experts and addressing endangered fish culture and water reuse systems at The Mora National Fish Hatchery and Technology Center are popular, Fenzi said.
For more information about group excursions to this portion of New Mexico, contact the Las Vegas San Miguel Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau at (855) 425-8631 or www.lasvegasnewmexico.com.