Home » 2002 Cross Country Road Trip

Tinkertown Museum / The Turquoise Trail, NM

Saturday, August 3, 2002 - 11:00am by Lolo
40 miles and 1 hour from our last stop


On our way to Santa Fe, we decided it was time to get off the Interstate onto the more scenic Turquoise Trail. This 48-mile road winds through pinyon pines and junipers through old mining towns, now populated with craft shops and New Age artists.

As seen on TVAs seen on TVAlong the drive we came across the very unique and entertaining Tinkertown Museum. Just one look at the outside of the museum told us just how different this place was going to be. There were wacky wood-carved characters sitting on the porch, and the walls of the building were made from thousands of glass bottles embedded in the concrete. Once inside, things got even more interesting. We were now wandering through a miniature wild-west town, populated with more than 1,200 hand-carved figures, many of which were animated. At the push of a button, many of the figures would come to life and start singing, playing instruments, or just going about their business. There was even an entire Circus carved in miniature. The amazing part was that all these wooden carvings had been done by one man--Ross Ward. What had started as a hobby in his teens became a life-long passion. Besides the miniature towns, there was much more to entertain us (for the mere price of a quarter), such as Esmeralda, the Fortune Teller, and Otto, the one-man band.

After leaving Tinkertown, we continued north on the Turquoise Trail. We would have loved to have taken the Sandia Crest National Scenic Byway, the 14-mile side road that climbs over 4,000 feet to the summit of the 10,678 foot high Sandia Crest, but unfortunately RVs and trailers were strongly discouraged. Instead, we continued on to Santa Fe.


The Tinkertown Museum is located in Sandia Crest, New Mexico, on Rte. 14 (the Turquoise Trail). It's a private museum (admission fee), which contains a miniature western town and circus made of wood-carvings. The owner, Ross Ward, spent over 35 years carving and collecting over 1,200 figures to populate his miniature town. Parts of the town are even animated at the push of a button. There are other highlights here as well, such as a "bottle wall" made of 12,000 bottles pressed into cement

The Turquoise Trail is a 48 mile scenic drive, connecting Alburguerque and Santa Fe. Along the Trail there is a turnoff for the Sandia Crest National Scenic Byway, a 14-mile side road that climbs over 4,000 feet to the summit of the 10,678 foot high Sandia Crest. Unfortunately RVs and trailers are strongly discouraged.


  • Tinkertown Museum
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Tinkertown Museum / The Turquoise Trail location map in "high definition"

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