Spring is here, a perfect time of year to get outdoors and enjoy an unparalleled adventure in Santa Fe County. With endless turquoise skies and stunning scenery that unfolds for miles, this high mountain country will reward you with lasting memories of your visit. Whether you’re seeking to experience the inspiring beauty of majestic mountains and pristine wilderness or a stirring journey into the region’s ancient Pueblo past, your spring getaway in Santa Fe County will take your breath away.
For an unforgettable off-road adventure, head out on a rugged jeep tour into the wild places of Santa Fe County. A four-wheel drive expedition with Santa Fe Jeep Tours through striking canyon terrain and alpine forests will reveal some of the area’s most majestic sites, and they’re often not easy to get to on your own.
You can choose from an array of itineraries, including a guided jeep tour of dramatic rock formations in the Diablo Canyon Recreation Area. The trail takes you past towering basalt cliffs more than 300 feet high and ends at the mighty Rio Grande. Diablo Canyon’s stark beauty has provided filming locations for many movies such as “Cowboys and Aliens,” “3:10 to Yuma” and “The Missing.” It’s also a popular spot for avid rock climbers. Once your tour is over, you’ll marvel at how this remote, rough canyon trail provides the perfect terrain for a thrilling jeep ride.
Sunset is one of the most beautiful times to see Diablo Canyon and this jeep tour offers that option. Santa Fe sunsets are majestic and you’ll be astonished as the evening light transforms the canyon in brilliant hues of orange, purple, red and more. You can also take in a moon ride tour to experience the canyon’s alluring nightscape. A third option is the Diablo Canyon bonfire tour, a fun family adventure where you’ll see the sunset then, as the stars come out against the inky sky, welcome the night with a bonfire, complete with s’mores, hot chocolate and a fire to keep you warm.
If you’re up for higher altitude, the guided jeep tour through the Santa Fe Ski Basin will take you there. You’ll travel through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains on remote fire roads and through canyon and forest terrain. Be sure to bring your camera as the view from the top of the ski basin is breathtaking, overlooking Santa Fe and even Albuquerque, on a cloudless day. In the fall, take in a tour of the well-known aspen fall colors at the Santa Fe Ski Basin. For the extreme adventurer who prefers to see all these marvelous sites in the comfort of their own jeep, there are maps available to pick up at the Santa Fe National Forest office.
For a different kind of journey, one you’ll take on foot, venture deep into history with a fascinating visit to the La Cieneguilla Petroglyph Site, located just southwest of the Santa Fe city limits. Owned and managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the rocks and boulders at the site display nearly 5,000 images carved by ancient Pueblo people. Most petroglyphs were created between the 13th and 17th centuries, though some are believed to date back 8000 to 2000 BCE. Situated on a mesa above the Santa Fe River, this peaceful place feels like it is worlds away, infused with a palpable, powerful sense of the past. The petroglyphs depict a wide range of birds as well as deer, hunters and the hump-back flute player known as Kokopelli, a popular symbol in Santa Fe today that’s reproduced on T-shirts, hats and many other items. While these carvings were created centuries ago, they remain strongly connected to today’s vibrant Pueblo cultures of northern New Mexico.
To reach the La Cieneguilla Petroglyph Site, drive to the intersection of Airport Road and NM 599 and continue west on Airport Road for 3.3 miles. Look for the gravel parking area on the west side of the road, where you’ll see a Bureau of Land Management (BLM). From here, follow a trail marked by arrows for about five to ten minutes to access the basalt cliffs where the petroglyphs are located.
Before you set out on your next adventure-filled Santa Fe getaway order the 2018 Santa Fe Travel Guide to make planning your trip easier. There are always deals and specials to use during your visit, so make sure to check these out before you get to Santa Fe.