Why We Love August (And You Should, Too!)

There is so much to see and do this coming August in Santa Fe! With Summer of Color in full swing and a wide range of events taking place, you’ll see why we love August.

Two Markets, One Weekend  

The Santa Fe Indian Market is one of the biggest events in Santa Fe and also the largest and most prestigious intertribal fine art market in the world. You will see visitors interacting with over 1,000 of the “best of the best” Native artists and designers in this two day festival market. Check out our calendar for more events revolving around Indian Market as numerous galleries and other venues around the city host special events during the week.

One event overlapping Indian Market weekend is the Indigenous Fine Arts Market. IFAM is a celebration of native art and cultures. IFAM’s art events, music and literary programs, aim to create a greater understanding of the complexity and beauty of Native American culture and people as they exist today. IFAM is also a juried art show.

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Santa Fe’s Peaceful Spirit is Your Holiday Gift

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Holiday escapes
Silence is golden in the quaint adobe Friends Meeting House on Canyon Road.

Holiday madness is not just a catch phrase, it’s a reality. No matter how early I get the shopping and cooking done, by the time I’ve worked my way through the festivities with friends and family, I am so ready for my share of serenity. In the spirit of the season, here’s my holiday offering to those of you who need the true escape and soul refreshment that Santa Fe has offered for centuries.

Santa Fe is a Prescription for Peace

Sitting mindfully is a spiritual prescription known to East and West alike. And Santa Fe has both varieties for meditative moments. Sunday mornings at the Quaker Meeting House require nothing but a way to get there to sit and soak up the goodness. First Day (Sunday) Meetings are held in the historic Olive Rush house on Canyon Road and visitors are welcome to worship with the Friends.

In a town with historic Catholic roots, it’s no surprise to find a Carmelite Monastery. Santa Fe’s Carmelites are guided by St. Teresa of Avila’s commitment to leading life in silence and contemplation. You can be soothed by tranquility at the daily morning Mass or simply wander the grounds in private reflection.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Audubon Center, Nature
The Randall Davey Audubon Center is as picturesque in winter as it is in summer.

Those whose minds turn east find their way to the Upaya Zen Center, which hosts four daily zazen sessions, as well as an ongoing slate of programs and retreats. The gorgeous setting at the top of a canyon is an inspiration in itself – pristine nature echoing the clarity our souls endeavor to reach.

Finding a beautiful place to be inspired doesn’t require any particular affiliation. The Santa Fe Audubon Center lets birdsong do the work of lifting spirits. Located at the top of Canyon Road in the former home of animal-loving artist Randall Davey, the Audubon also has easy access to the Dale Ball Trails.

Activate Your Center with Movement

Santa Fe, New Mexico, historic landmarks
Just look up in Santa Fe and you’ll feel your spirits lifted upwards too.

Walking meditation is my personal go-to at times when sitting won’t do; sometimes one just has to move to feel centered. Climbing to the top of the Cross of the Martyrs always energizes my body and settles my spirit. Gazing up at the Cross and then out over the city reminds me of all the blessings that life in our special city imparts daily.

Holiday visits from family and friends invariably include a trip to Museum Hill, so as we drift from the Folk Art Museum to the Museum of Indian Art and Culture, we stop on the Milner Plaza and walk the Labyrinth, which silences even the kiddos as they concentrate on staying within the circuit. And there’s even a second labyrinth at the Santa Fe Community Yoga Center!

Santa Fe, New Mexico,  yoga maze
You’ll be a-mazed at how centered you will feel when you visit Santa Fe.

Speaking of yoga, there’s simply no way not to feel more balanced than after a yoga session and Santa Fe abounds in teachers and classes. The aforementioned Community Yoga Center is one of many studios that bring light and life back to body and soul; at BODY of Santa Fe, a yoga class followed by a spa treatment will keep you in the flow.

Read and Reflect to Find Spiritual Refreshment

There’s so much to know about this city that’s more than 400 years old that I sometimes find it a challenge to put it all together. My secret salvation is the Southwest Reading Room at the downtown Santa Fe Library. Classic library etiquette means stillness and silence and an hour spent perusing Santa Fe history enriches any experience. Just about anything you ever wanted to know about New Mexico is waiting on the shelves.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Public Library
The Santa Fe library scene is one of peace and perusal.

After you read up on the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Asissi, your admiration for the magnificent edifice is enhanced by knowing its story. And when you sit with your thoughts in a pew, you may even be lucky enough to hear an organist practice or the choir rehearsing a new hymn. Just be sure to exit by the southside door by the Chapel so you can amble through the Bishop’s peaceful Prayer Garden south of the rectory.

Santa Fe is Truly Soul-Stirring

Turn down the holiday buzz and tune up your soul with a Santa Fe getaway and you’ll see how quickly everything becomes lighter and brighter inside. The City Different enjoys world-class status as a UNESCO Creative City and when you create soul-soothing adventures of your own, you’ll bring joy to your holiday world.

 

Santa Fe: Between the Lines

For over 400 years, Santa Fe has attracted quite a cast of characters — from New Spain explorers to Old West cowboys, renegade priests to virtuous madams. Which, perhaps, explains why a legion of literary lions have found their stories (and made their homes) here. As you stock up on books for those fireside hours, I have a few recommendations. But my best tip? Pull your nose off the page and start your own exciting new chapter in Santa Fe.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
The story of the man behind the building of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis is a Santa Fe must-read. (Photo Credit: LeRoy N. Sanchez)

Real People Make Rich Characters

You can’t go wrong with a classic. Countless visitors admire our gorgeous Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis, but how many delve into the history of the man who brought this magnificent edifice into being? Be among those in the know by settling down with Death Comes for the Archbishop, Willa Cather’s fictionalized portrait of Bishop Jean-Baptiste Lamy. This fascinating historical perspective is well worth getting to know. Your appreciation of his beautiful church and verdant garden will be enriched by this lively tale of a remarkable individual and his lasting Santa Fe legacy.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Native American, Bandelier National Monument
You can muse on the mysteries of a Bandelier kiva from Adolph Bandelier himself. (Photo Credit: National Park Service)

Mining Fact for Historical Fiction

Given Santa Fe’s rich multicultural heritage, authors digging for subject matter never come up short. Renowned archaeologist Adolph Bandelier is best known for the fabulous site that honored his excavation by naming it Bandelier National Park. One of New Mexico’s must-see spots, these extensive ruins are a magnet for locals and visitors alike. Your hike will never be the same after Bandelier’s imaginative gem, The Delight Makers, brings this ancient culture to life. And speaking of Native culture, a Santa Fe getaway always involves at least one great Tony Hillerman novel featuring his intriguing Native American detectives Jim Chee and Lt. Joe Leaphorn.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, George R.R. Martin, Game of Thrones
Even though it was George R. R. Martin Day in Santa Fe, the author had to sit carefully on that Iron Throne! (Photo Credit: The Santa Fe Reporter)

Santa Fe: Where Fantasy Fiction Reigns

Colorful characters still abound in Santa Fe, and winter nights are perfect for fantastic tales from one-of-a-kind local, George R. R. Martin. This prolific author, best known for his A Song of Fire and Ice series (aka HBO’s wildly successful Game of Thrones), has called Santa Fe home since the late 1970s. Fans avidly await the next book in the Fire and Ice series, but Santa Fe got an extra gift when Martin renovated the beloved Jean Cocteau Cinema, which delights film fans with a quirky selection of the old and new. And speaking of old and new, Martin fans who only know the Fire and Ice saga can keep themselves plenty busy with his rich collection of fantasy fiction.

A Real-Life SyFy Thriller

Specific events have indelibly marked modern life, and modern life is just as lively in the spoken word (read “screenplay”) as it is on the page. The exciting tale of the atom bomb has been writ large in today’s riveting WGN Manhattan TV series. The Manhattan Project was rooted in an unremarkable building at 109 East Palace Avenue in Santa Fe.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Manhattan Project, History
It took years of secrecy before the history of the bomb was finally revealed. (Photo of an article from The Saturday Evening Post article from November 1945)

Scientists on their way to Los Alamos had to stop first at this 1600s hacienda-turned-government-office to receive security passes and IDs before heading north with directions to the clandestine site. Due to the top-secret nature of the project, 109’s personnel handled correspondence and personal matters so the geniuses could work in uninterrupted privacy. And WGN’s screenwriters have been handed a treasure trove of colorful characters in this exciting saga of “the Hill,” as it’s known around these parts.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Witter Bynner
It’s easy to imagine being inspired to poetry with a stay at the Inn of the Turquoise Bear, formerly home to poet Witter Bynner. (Photo Credit: The Inn of the Turquoise Bear)

Santa Fe in Verse

You can’t say “spoken word” and not talk poetry! Poetic types are well aware of poet Witter Bynner, whose charmed early 20th century Santa Fe lifestyle included acquaintances like D. H. Lawrence, Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams. Artists and intellectuals of all stripes shared pleasant hours at Bynner’s adobe home, now the Inn of the Turquoise Bear. A bequest from Bynner’s estate founded the Witter Bynner Poetry Foundation to perpetuate the art of poetry through grants and since 1997 the Witter Bynner Fellowship has been awarded to recipients selected by the U.S. Poet Laureate. Santa Fe even boasts its own poet laureate, and thanks to the Muse Times Two readings at Collected Works Books, poetic expression here is alive and thriving.

Let Your Legs Lead You on a Literary Tour

If you need to stretch between chapters, tell your feet to work together with your imagination and take a Literary Tour of the City Different. Add the Lannan Readings and Conversations to your literary survey of Santa Fe and your education is complete. After a trip to Santa Fe, you’ll have quite the story to tell!

 

 

 

In Santa Fe, There Are So Many Reasons to be Thankful

Every year, we have a designated opportunity to give thanks for life’s many benefits. But for us Santa Feans, reasons to be thankful jump out daily – from the awe-inspiring mix of scarlet and gold in a sunset that stops us in our tracks to the comforting warmth of a fresh tortilla on a crisp autumn morning. I could go on and on, but instead I’ll just list five reasons why you should make yours a City Different Thanksgiving. You can thank me later.

winter, ski, sports, santa fe, mountains
Your heart will soar as you ride the lift to the top of the mountain at Ski Santa Fe.
(Photo Credit: Don Gaspar Inn)

I’m thankful for Santa Fe’s. . . Weather.

An average of 320 days of sunshine a year ensures delightful times as you hike up or glide down a snowy hillside with brilliant blue skies. And all without the bone-chilling humidity. The mountains encircling Santa Fe are gorgeous any time of year, but fresh powder for a Thanksgiving opening? It’s entirely possible and Ski Santa Fe has set its sights on a November 27 opening – fingers crossed!

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Cuisine, Tamales, Classes
Chef Noe Cano demonstrating the holiday art of homemade tamales. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe School of Cooking)

I’m Thankful for Santa Fe’s . . . Chile

Whenever I mull the idea of living elsewhere, the thought of a chile-less life stops me cold. I cannot imagine autumn without the scent of roasting chiles, let alone giving up my breakfast burritos to go on a snowy morning. As for Thanksgiving, turkey is the centerpiece but the distinctive flavors of our regional New Mexico cuisine find their way onto holiday dining tables all over town. Speaking of which, classes at the Santa Fe School of Cooking have been tuning up my family recipes for years, and a Native Harvest Feast class (November 6) taught by Native American Chef Lois Ellen Frank offers wonderful alternatives for your holiday table. I cherish this family-run temple of taste, marking their 25th anniversary with a new cookbook out in December.

Native American, Pueblo, Tesuque, dance
An undated Tesuque Pueblo Turtle Dance captured by renowned New Mexico photographer Laura Gilpin. (Photo Credit: Laura Gilpin; in the collection of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas)

I’m Thankful for Santa Fe’s. . . Cultural Combinations

Santa Fe was diverse long before diversity became a buzzword. Frontier life meant neighbors of every persuasion pitched in to create a community. You’re as likely to meet a Valdez with blue eyes and blond hair as one with thick black braids trailing down his back. Having a thriving Native culture adds unique character to the Land of Enchantment, and I honor that gift annually by attending Pueblo feasts. Tesuque Pueblo is less than ten miles from Santa Fe, and its San Diego Feast on November 11 is a memorable event celebrated with beautifully costumed dancers and a drum group on the pueblo’s central Plaza.

Santa Fe, Holidays, Lensic, Performing Arts
Wise Fool’s Circus Luminous lights up the Lensic stage annually. (Photo Credit: Wise Fool New Mexico)

I’m Thankful for Santa Fe’s . . . Vibrant Arts Scene.

Not a day goes by that I don’t feel lucky to live where the artful spirit is so alive. From lovingly handcrafted mission altarpieces to cutting-edge art exhibitions; from solo Native flute to a full orchestra; from age-old legends told around a campfire to pop-culture poetry readings; Santa Fe has it all. Every season is graced with inspiration, and Thanksgiving is no exception. SWAIA’s Santa Fe Winter Indian Market (Nov. 28-29) showcases the rich artistic culture of the First Peoples. A Saturday afternoon bronze pouring at Shidoni Gallery demonstrates the traditional execution of sculptural expression. The Santa Fe Symphony and Chorus’ annual presentation of Handel’s Messiah fills the Lensic on Sunday, November 23 and four rousing performances of Wise Fool’s Circus Luminous are on the Lensic’s roster November 28 to 30.

I’m Thankful for…Santa Fe’s Festive Spirit

Santa Fe is a town that loves to celebrate old traditions and create new ones. From January’s Souper Bowl to May’s Passport to the Arts; from July’s International Folk Art Market to November’s PieMania, Santa Fe knows how to throw a great party! And Thanksgiving ushers in an unusually rich series of pleasures. After the turkey is reduced to leftovers, we’ll head down to the Plaza on Friday, November 28 to watch as the big Christmas tree lights up to celebrate the start of the holiday season. With so much December fun in the wings – Christmas at the Palace and Las Posadas, the Christmas Eve Farolito Walk and Christmas Day dances at the Pueblos – not a moment goes by that I’m not grateful to be living here.

Wine, Fireplace, Santa Fe
Toast the love of friends and family by spending Thanksgiving together in Santa Fe

You’ll Be Thankful You Came to Santa Fe

It‘s easy for me to ramble on about the wonders of Santa Fe  because the magic is real in the Land of Enchantment. And best of all? The welcoming spirit of the people, who share the same questing spirit and love of life that brings you here! Why not celebrate your Thanksgiving with a stay in Santa Fe where gracias is lived all year-round?

Santa Fe: Native Treasures and Artistic Pleasures

Even with its long days, summer is a season that simply seems to fly by. But here in Santa Fe, our numerous arts events prove summer has yet to reach its peak. I’ll be taking my vacation off-season and enjoying the great weather at home, because August is an amazingly artful month of can’t-miss experiences.

Indian Market
SWAIA Indian Market is the largest Native Arts festival in the country.

Santa Fe has a centuries-old history of Native art and culture. Baskets and beads, paintings and pottery, jewelry and clothing — all are part of an artistic legacy that grew from usage. And over time, these items grew more beautiful and desirable to collectors. SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market has history, too, and Santa Fe is primed for its 93rd appearance Aug. 18-24.

The whole town dresses up for this party. And even after years of attending, I can’t wait to show up in my finery. Seeing the crowd decked out in its silvery best sends any style-hound hunting for a Concho belt or dangly turquoise earrings.

Turquoise earrings come in every shade.
Turquoise earrings come in every shade.

The Market hosts artists from coast to coast so you’ll find both Penobscot baskets and Pueblo pottery. Haida carvings find a home near Hopi katsinas, and Navajo rugs and colorful paintings are also part of the mix. Bring your collector’s eye and you won’t be disappointed.

Meet a Native Art Star on the Page and in Person

One of the West’s most celebrated painters makes a special trip to Santa Fe during Indian Market. Kevin Red Star, a Crow native from Lodge Grass, Mont., delves deep into family experience and heritage to create contemporary works prized by collectors. One of the first students of the Institute of American Indian Arts, Red Star also received a scholarship to the San Francisco Art Institute.

Imagine seeing a painting like this on your wall – this one is available. “Dancers (The Red Star Brothers)” by Kevin Red Star (Photo Credit: Kitty Leaken)
Imagine seeing a painting like this on your wall – this one is available.
“Dancers (The Red Star Brothers)” by Kevin Red Star (Photo Credit: Kitty Leaken)

The experience provided exposure to political and social concerns that affect Native life and continue to inform his work. Red Star notes “I hope to accomplish something for the American Indian and at the same time achieve personal satisfaction in a creative statement through my art.”

Meet Red Star Aug. 20 at Collected Works Books where he will sign copies of the gorgeous new book Kevin Red Star Crow Indian Artist by Daniel Gibson and Kitty Leaken; all proceeds that day benefit SWAIA. An opening reception for Red Star’s new exhibit and another book signing are at Windsor Betts Gallery Aug. 22.

Get Familiar with IFAM

IFAM, the Indigenous Fine Art Market, sets down roots in the Santa Fe Railyard Aug. 21-23. This new festival runs concurrently with Indian Market, giving visitors double the reason to be in Santa Fe. IFAM’s mission is to provide exposure for artists whose work may not fit SWAIA categories or regulations. There are over 565 registered Native American nations and IFAM’s palette of participants includes a host of Canadian First Nations and indigenous Hawaiian artists. It’s no surprise that the artist list has grown quickly!

Kevin-Red-Star-by-Daniel-Gibson-Book-Cover
Between the historic pictures and the fascinating story, this is a book to cherish. (Photo Credit: Kitty Leaken)

And IFAM hosts a special event Aug. 21 called Red Star, Rising Star with — you guessed it — Kevin Red Star. Red Star is mentoring George Alexander, a young Muscogee artist, and together they’ll do a live paint accompanied by music from Brian Frejo. The resulting artwork will be raffled off and a book signing at the event both benefit IFAM. The Market runs both days 10 a.m.–5 p.m., with entertainment on the Railyard stage noon-10 p.m. Friday and noon-5 p.m. Saturday.

Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams Are a Perfect Pair

Speaking of indigenous Hawaii, I heartily recommend the O’Keeffe Museum’s killer exhibit Georgia O’Keeffe & Ansel Adams: The Hawaii Pictures Exhibit. Both artists had a special connection to New Mexico, so pairing them makes sense, especially as they also shared a natural ability to let native flora create an authentic sense of place.

Georgia O’Keeffe always had an eye for beautiful trees. “Papaya Tree, Oil on Canvas,” collection of the Honolulu Museum of Art; Gift of the Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation. (Photo courtesy of Georgia O’Keeffe Museum)
Georgia O’Keeffe always had an eye for beautiful trees. “Papaya Tree, Oil on Canvas,” collection of the Honolulu Museum of Art; Gift of the Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation. (Photo courtesy of Georgia O’Keeffe Museum)

It’s amazing to think of O’Keeffe as a hired art-hand for the Hawaiian Pineapple Company, which commissioned her to create ad illustrations in 1939. O’Keeffe’s compositional ability is always remarkable, and her tropical blossoms and landscapes offer a lushness that contrasts with her Southwestern works. Adams was also in Hawaii on commission; his 1948 government assignment was followed by a 1957 bank commission. Adams’ love of the outdoors and deep connection to the land are always at the forefront of his images and this stunning compendium is no exception. See this one before it closes Sept. 17.

Wrap Up Your Summer With Only-in-Santa-Fe Experiences

Summer’s beauty is far from over. And Santa Fe can prove it, with a bounty of treasures ripe for the picking. There’s no place like here to tuck an artistic rendering of colorful memories into your bag. When the arts of August arrive, just get here and let Santa Fe do the rest.

 

Artful Adventuring Awaits in Santa Fe

Summer is in full bloom–flowers blossoming and bees buzzing on long days ripe for enjoyment. I’m buzzing too, with excitement about the artistic riches in our hive. Santa Fe is always top 10 for creative cities, so we don’t need to go looking. Art and artists abound here!

The New Mexico Museum of Art is blooming outside and in.
The New Mexico Museum of Art is blooming outside and in.

See Beyond the Flower to a Colorful Career in Santa Fe

After her 30 years in residence, it’s apt that the new Judy Chicago exhibit at the New Mexico Museum of Art is titled Local Color: Judy Chicago in New Mexico 1984–2014. As the artist notes, New Mexico attracted her for the same reasons it draws so many:

“What I wanted was the freedom to work. And that’s what New Mexico has given me, far away from the centers of the art world where the international art market presses down on artists and makes it difficult to pursue a personal vision like my own.”

 

Judy Chicago: Return of the Butterfly, 2008 Lithograph from the Collection of the New Mexico Museum of Art (Photo Credit: New Mexico Museum of Art)
Judy Chicago: Return of the Butterfly, 2008 Lithograph from the Collection of the New Mexico Museum of Art (Photo Credit: New Mexico Museum of Art)

 

 

The exhibit focuses on works made in New Mexico, where Chicago shares studio space with her husband in an old hotel they renovated. A gamut of media is represented – cast bronze and needlework, stained and painted glass, works on paper and painted porcelain in themes both intimate and universal.

 

Far East Art Styles in a Southwest Setting

Our serene Santa Fe Botanical Garden provides seasonal color and form for plant-loving people. But those who love get an extra twist on the outdoors with Origami in the Garden. This large-scale installation of folded metal forms by artist Kevin Box is up until October. Each time I visit, I choose a different time of day, so the magic of light and weather always lets me experience these unique works anew.

Cranes come to life in the Santa Fe Botanical Garden.
Cranes come to life in the Santa Fe Botanical Garden.

The artist considers origami a “simple metaphor for life. We all begin with a blank page, what we choose to do with it is what matters and the possibilities are endless.” Though fascinated by this intricate Japanese art form, Box was struck by the natural impermanence of the paper traditionally used to create origami. His re-envisioning led to 15 evocative cast and fabricated sculptures thoughtfully situated throughout in the garden’s graceful setting. The garden has been a great addition to the City Different and installations like this prove it!

Kevin Box’ Origami in the Garden started in one dimension and ended in three. (Photo Credit: Kevin Box)
Kevin Box’ Origami in the Garden started in one dimension and ended in three. (Photo Credit: Kevin Box)

The Artistic Landscape is Unlimited at SITE Santa Fe

A visit to the cutting-edge SITE Santa Fe is de rigueur. From the day it opened, the quality has remained sharp, with thought-provoking exhibitions that validate Santa Fe’s credentials as an arts capital. The project, SITElines: New Perspectives on Art of the Americas, is a six-year series of linked exhibitions showcasing contemporary art of the Americas, and the museum-scale SITE space kicks off the project with Unsettled Landscapes, opening on July 17.

SITELines uncovers the past with Pablo Helguera’s performance of Nuevo Romancero Nuevomexicano. (Photo Credit: SITE Santa Fe)
SITELines uncovers the past with Pablo Helguera’s performance of Nuevo Romancero Nuevomexicano. (Photo Credit: SITE Santa Fe)

Organized by a curatorial team from throughout the Western Hemisphere, Unsettled Landscapes is the first of three biennial exhibitions taking place. Sewing together the themes of landscape, territory, and trade, the exhibit is laced with political and historical narratives. With artists from Nunavut in the northernmost reaches of Canada to Chile’s Tierra del Fuego, the artistic spectrum covers a lot of territory. I’m ready to embark on this journey July 18 with Pablo Helguera’s Nuevo Romancero Nuevomexicano, a multi-disciplinary performance based on the forbidden card games of New Mexico’s Mexican era.

 

Bring On the Blues

Anyone who knows me knows that Turquoise, Water, Sky: the Stone and Its Meaning at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture has me enthralled. My turquoise fandom has me ooh-in and ahh-ing at this remarkable compendium of artifacts from the Museum’s collection. Not simply a semi-precious gem, turquoise has been honored as a sky and water stone, bringing blessings, good fortune, protection, good health and long life.

Cerrillos turquoise is stunning, even “in the rough.” (Photo Credit: Museum of Indian Arts and Culture)
Cerrillos turquoise is stunning, even “in the rough.” (Photo Credit: Museum of Indian Arts and Culture)

Cherished for its beauty and extensive range of hues, this “fallen sky stone” hidden in Mother Earth was a Southwestern adornment long before Columbus landed. Each individual stone’s color depends on the minerals in the area where it was mined. More copper means a bluer stone, more iron a greener one. Ancient mines dotted the Southwest, and the resulting variety of color and design is mesmerizing. And the history of turquoise in the Southwest is just as spellbinding. The museum has done a yeoman’s job of scouring the archives for examples, and an afternoon here means you’ll probably be shopping later to add to your own collection.

The sky stone comes to earth at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. (Photo Credit: Kitty Leaken, courtesy of MIAC)
The sky stone comes to earth at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. (Photo Credit: Kitty Leaken, courtesy of MIAC)

Santa Fe Creates an Especially Artistic Summer Experience

Having this rich mix of the traditional and the new means there is a pleasurable palette of experience for all. That’s why my adobe abode is summer visitors’ central! Creativity has been at the forefront of Santa Fe for centuries, so make your artistic pit stop here and you won’t go wrong.

 

Santa Fe: Artful and Full of Art

Drawn to the artistic? I know the feeling well. Watching the talent on parade at Canyon Road’s Passport to the Arts last weekend left me with an appetite for more. Fortunately, Santa Fe delivers a mighty dose of the artistic every single month. There’s so much happening this summer that it’s taken me two weeks to share it all with you. (You read last week’s post, right?) Rest assured, my soul — and yours — won’t go hungry.

Let Your Eyeballs Lead You on an Artful Tour

Summer’s arrival brings long shadows. Around here, we call that time of day “legend light” and the magnificent landscape has been inviting paintbrushes, pastels, and photographers for centuries. Many artisans call Santa Fe home, and revelation arrives when these artistic residents open their doors to welcome us to the Santa Fe Studio Tour June 27-29.

Painter Jayne Levant plies her brushes with ease. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Studio Tour)
Painter Jayne Levant plies her brushes with ease. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Studio Tour)

A Friday night preview at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design kicks off the excitement. On Saturday and Sunday, it’s time to work the map. The Santa Fe Studio Tour offers the opportunity to visit with 58 artists in 37 studios across the city. Chatting with the artists and seeing their creative spaces always gives me more context, deeper insights into their work. Plus, I get to see whose space is the quirkiest.

 

 

 

 

From Cutting Edge to Classic at Weekend Warp Speed

The Downs at Santa Fe may have morphed from a racetrack into a flea market, but the City Different is way out ahead of the field with this summer’s Art Trifecta. From July 12-14, three stellar organizations join forces to create a winning triplet of artistic expression. Two are storied annual festivals, Art Santa Fe and the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, and they share this summer weekend with SITE Santa Fe. Santa Fe’s year-round destination for the avant-garde, SITE is revered by locals for showcasing radical re-evaluations of what art means in the 21st century.

Enrique Martinez Celaya pulls you into the world of The Pearl. (Photo Credit: Peter Kirby)
Enrique Martinez Celaya pulls you into the world of The Pearl. (Photo Credit: Peter Kirby)

The Friday, July 13 opening for The Pearl proves the point with a multi-media exhibition of works by Cuban artist Enrique Martinez Celaya (who also trained as a physicist – now that definitely piques my interest).

 

 

Art Santa Fe — Three Words That Say It All

While Santa Fe has a justifiable reputation as the art capital of the Southwest, the art is by no means all Western-style. We have our share of cowboy painters —and darn good ones, too — but cutting edge work shows up all the time. And nowhere is this more evident than at Art Santa Fe.

At Art Santa Fe, you can look at the art while it looks at you. (Photo Credit: Art Santa Fe)
At Art Santa Fe, you can look at the art while it looks at you. (Photo Credit: Art Santa Fe)

Kids rebelling against the idea of another museum? Turn their eye-rolling into the eye-opening with a trip to Art Santa Fe. The international, contemporary art fair July 10-13 brings the newest, boldest, most original works in its 14th show. My little artist anticipates seeing what’s new every summer and participating in a number of the event’s special sessions, like Korean papermaking I know where I’ll be spending a lot of the weekend.

 

 

 

 

Globally Yours in Santa Fe

You’re guaranteed to find the finest in folk art under the blue skies of Santa Fe.
You’re guaranteed to find the finest in folk art under the blue skies of Santa Fe.

Just as the quickly as Art Santa Fe has transported me to unimagined other worlds, a quick jaunt over to Museum Hill to the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market sends me back to the past, to traditions, and to the far reaches of the globe.

Bertha Aquino works intricate designs onto a gourd at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market.
Bertha Aquino works intricate designs onto a gourd at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

With over 150 folk artists from more than 60 countries collected in the space (the expansive Milner Plaza), on same weekend (July 11-13), I can watch a Guatemalan master gourd carver at work, while munching on Indian samosa and listening to Kenyan music.  The best part? As I load up my new, handmade basket for Farmers Market shopping or adorn myself with some great new ethnic jewelry I’ve picked up at the market, I’ll do it in good conscience: Artists take home roughly 90% of all proceeds to support their families—and traditions– back home. I’ve already purchased my ticket!

Santa Fe’s Historic Art Heritage Hits the Plaza

It’s no surprise that Santa Fe boasts the deepest roster of traditional Spanish artists in the country. Many of the artisans who show at Spanish Market are direct descendants of the Spanish settlers who, when packing for their trip across the ocean into the new world, decided against packing easels and paint brushes. (No room on the burro!) Without any of the Old-World gold-leaf for decoration, the settlers turned instead to gold-colored straw, crafting intricate straw inlay to decorate their homes and churches.

Lawrence Cordova’s santos are altar-worthy.
Lawrence Cordova’s santos are altar-worthy.

And without any oils or paints, they mixed natural pigments still used by traditional retablo artist to depict and honor their favorite saints.

It’s not just the divine that’s sublime, though.  After popping into the St. Francis Basilica, I like to head over to the Contemporary Hispanic Market for some twists on tradition.

 

 

Pack Your Comfortable Walking Shoes for Indian Market

Santa Fe’s renowned SWAIA Indian Market turns 93 this year but hardly shows its age. In fact, it seems to get bigger and stronger every year. No wonder, since this is the country’s premiere Native American Arts Festival. (Note to self: Don’t forget the comfy footwear!)

Beautiful beadwork will blow your mind at SWAIA’s Indian Market.
Beautiful beadwork will blow your mind at SWAIA’s Indian Market.

Indian Market is a sell-out occasion, so make hotel reservations in advance. That way, you can hit the stalls early before the best pieces are whisked away by proud new owners.

I appreciate how the entire town–locals and visitors alike–turns out in their finery for Indian Market. No doubt, we’re stimulated by the variety of colors and textures on display. And if you mosey over to the Bandstand, you might see how all the elements of a Native costume work in unison when the person on stage does a hoop dance.

Indian Market covers not only the entirety of Santa Fe’s Plaza but the gamut of native art as well. And it’s not all pottery and turquoise.

Painter Ryan Singer poses with his self-portrait.
Painter Ryan Singer poses with his self-portrait.

Artistic traditions vary from region to region, with Pima baskets and Haida carvings, Pueblo pottery or Navajo weaving. Contemporary artists are also on display, giving us a generous peek at the next generation of tradition. Simply put, Indian Market is on my Must List!

From Far and Near, the Art Comes Here

I know, lucky me, I live here. Sorry if I’ve made it hard for you to choose. That’s why my own visitors come back again and again … and again. All these wonderfully artistic events return annually, too, so pick what you’ll be doing in Santa Fe this summer and next summer — I know you’ll be back!

Make Your Next Visit to Santa Fe a Tour de Force

Do you occasionally feel like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, pressed for time and harnessed to a big watch? Discover the spirit of Santa Fe! We take relaxing-into-the-moment seriously, so I think you should leave the planning to us. Making the most of limited time means doing only what’s necessary, then letting the professionals take over. Once you’ve made plane reservations or tuned up the truck, pick out a great hotel (a tough choice you’ll have to make for yourself), then take a break by touring with adventurous experts who make it their business to see that your getaway is grand.

Train, plane or automobile — just get yourself to Santa Fe and let the locals share the best!
Train, plane or automobile — just get yourself to Santa Fe and let the locals share the best!

Lose Yourself in a Legendary Landscape

The vistas here are so large and the possibilities so many that it takes a pro to know where to start. You can’t do better than Georges and Sue Mally of Santa Fe Walkabouts, ranked #1 for Santa Fe activities on TripAdvisor. This dynamic duo and their powerful Pinzgauer (not their dog, it’s their fun all-terrain vehicle) get you out of town and into nature in informative and entertaining style. Want to explore the otherworldly Kasha Katuwe Tent Rocks? You can scramble to the top or gaze at the azure sky from the bottom of a slot canyon. Hiking can be an easy excursion past ancient petroglyphs or a challenging climb in Georgia O’Keeffe country.

Gaze at the gorgeous landscape that inspired Georgia O’Keeffe with Santa Fe Walkabouts as your guide. (Photo credit: Santa Fe Walkabouts)
Gaze at the gorgeous landscape that inspired Georgia O’Keeffe with Santa Fe Walkabouts as your guide. (Photo credit: Santa Fe Walkabouts)

Mountain biking your thing? Take a canyon-rim cruise or a strenuous trek straight up the mountain, as Georges paces you pedal for pedal. And then, there’s the Pinz … be it a rocky road to a remote area or a glorious sunset tour to say goodnight to Santa Fe, this is a one-of-a-kind ride you won’t forget in a hurry! You may lose yourself in wonder at what you see, but in the expert care of Walkabouts, you’ll never get lost in anything but dreams!

 

Feed Your Fantasies in Santa Fe

Fun in the sun makes for a delicious day, but you can combine seeing sights with scrumptious flavors in a foodie-style adventure with Food Tour New Mexico. Ranked as TripAdvisor’s #1 Santa Fe sightseeing tour, these rambles through regional specialties should not be missed. And there’s more than one recipe for a nosh through our noteworthy cuisine.

The green leafy courtyard at La Casa Sena is a thing of beauty — and so is the food.
The green leafy courtyard at La Casa Sena is a thing of beauty — and so is the food.

The Taste of Santa Fe includes such notable spots as La Casa Sena (tucked inside Santa Fe’s most beautiful courtyard), Taberna La Boca, James Campbell Caruso’s temple of tapas, and Kakawa Chocolate House, recognized as one of the country’s best places for hot chocolate. The Sample Santa Fe tour takes a similar tack, with stops at the San Francisco Street Bar & Grill (a locals’ favorite), Upper Crust Pizza, and Senor Murphy, Santa Fe’s historic chocolatier, tucked alongside the historic La Fonda Hotel. And for those who love a sippin’ sampler, there’s even a Culinary Cocktail Tour — that’s one with shaken or stirred skills to take home!

On the subject of testing the palate with pleasurable potions, be it wine, beer, or spirits, the City Different accommodates different drinking desires. Given that foodies like us like vino, it’s no surprise to learn that you can spend an awesome afternoon tasting local vintages at Estrella del Norte Vineyards.

Discover the vines in the oldest wine-growing state: New Mexico! (Photo credit: Estrella del Norte Vineyard)
Discover the vines in the oldest wine-growing state: New Mexico! (Photo credit: Estrella del Norte Vineyard)

A 15-mile drive north gives wine lovers the flavor of the northern New Mexico terroir and a scenic road trip. Throughout summer, there’s a smattering of wine dinners and classes, and there’s even an April 19th vineyard planting if you want to literally get into la tierra.

If beer’s a beloved buddy (I cherish my hoppy memories), there’s always plenty of brew bubbling. My recommendation is Small Batch Saturday at the Santa Fe Brewing Company. Originating with a local homebrew organization, these 10-gallon gatherings give local beer-loving club members a chance to brew with the experts and share the craft results. Brewery tours or tastings are every bit as tasty as you’d expect from Santa Fe’s oldest brewery, with 20 or so beers in rotation; favorites are always on tap!

It’s always “brewtastic” to taste what’s on tap at Santa Fe Brewing Company. (Photo credit: Max Otwell)
It’s always “brewtastic” to taste what’s on tap at Santa Fe Brewing Company. (Photo credit: Max Otwell)

Santa Fe is a spirited town, and the inroads made by Santa Fe Spirits are proof positive. In just a few short years, Colin Keegan, the don of distillers, has managed to put not only whisky, but vodka, gin, and an apple brandy into the mix. A short drive takes you to an artisan adventure in locally crafted spirits, and it’s enlightening to discover that what we enjoy at leisure commands so much expert attention. A distillery tour is my choice, because I like combining a sip with an education, but knowledge is on hand at the downtown tasting room if you’re afoot and footloose on a sunny Santa Fe afternoon.

It’s a barrel of fun to discover the spirits of Santa Fe and taste them too! (Photo credit: Santa Fe Spirits)
It’s a barrel of fun to discover the spirits of Santa Fe and taste them too! (Photo credit: Santa Fe Spirits)

Follow the Leader and Do It Yourself

If you’re one for marching to the beat of your own drum, make the most of Santa Fe by merely following a beaten path laid out by trail-blazers just like you. If you’re firmly convinced (I am) that a chocolate a day is the key to keeping the doctor away — it is a proven fact that chocolate is good for you – spend a sweet afternoon on a Chocolate Lovers’ Odyssey. You might want to pair that sweet tooth with a caffeine fix, in which case, a Coffee Tour will hit the spot.

One way or another, all paths lead to green chile in Santa Fe.
One way or another, all paths lead to green chile in Santa Fe.

And eventually, when it’s time to settle down for a real meal, a detour to hunt down your favorite version of our famed Green Chile Cheeseburger simply has to be on the agenda.

Leave the Driving to Us

Even if your trip is just a short hop, I commend you for coming … and I assure you, you’ll be back. The spell of Santa Fe is simply too magical. But if you only have a weekend, take a tram tour to plan for deeper exploration next time. Seeing the sights seated on your keister saves time and foot-power, because there’s just so much to see.

 

Custom Tours by Clarice shuttles the curious on daily tours of our historic downtown four times a day, seven days a week, and if Clarice herself is at the wheel, the friendly flow of conversation is wide-ranging. The Loretto Line Tour Company is Santa Fe’s oldest tram tour, but the enthusiasm and expertise of their guides is fresh as a daisy. Running three times a day every day of the week, Loretto tours cover all the legendary downtown spots, leaving you with a comprehensive overview and a plan for returning to places that piqued your interest.

There’s more than one way to ride in Santa Fe. (Photo Credit: Loretto Line Tours)
There’s more than one way to ride in Santa Fe. (Photo Credit: Loretto Line Tours)

 

Leave the Planning to Us

We’ll take good care of you once you get here; after all, we appreciate our renown as the cultural hotspot of the Southwest. And that means lots of locals make their living by welcoming with open arms and minds full of fascinating facts the visitors who want to enjoy our historic city. Why not leave the selections, explanations, and driving to us? You just kick back and enjoy the scenery, the flavor and the fun! My way of getting the best of the adventure is by spending the least amount of energy planning. Try seeing Santa Fe my way — I know you’ll like it!

No Place Does Spring Like Santa Fe

Santa Fe is so blessed with seasonally special sights and sounds that I never feel shortchanged at any time of year. But I admit that being on the cusp of spring has me in a fever of eager anticipation. As days grow longer, blossoming trees will begin to decorate the city and festive events will bloom all over town. Now is the moment to give in to the beauty and bounty of a colorful southwest spring, so I offer my primavera primer.

The first flowers of spring — forsythia — bloom in abundance in Bishop Lamy’s quiet garden adjacent to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis.
The first flowers of spring — forsythia — bloom in abundance in Bishop Lamy’s quiet garden adjacent to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis.

One Old Culture Honors Another

No country pays a more handsome homage to spring than Japan. Fragrant flowers, gusty winds sending kites aloft, a rich and ancient culture … Santa Fe has them too, though our early blossoms come from gorgeous old apricot trees. Delicious jam ensues later, so look for it at our Santa Fe Farmers’ Market. And Santa Fe also has a Japanese tradition, when we celebrate “equinoxically” on March 22 at the Japanese Cultural Festival.

The delicacy and depth of Japanese artistry is rooted in deliberate design and meaning, and I salute the 10th annual return of this spring event, known as a Matsuri. This year’s theme, good luck, is symbolized by “sho,” “chiku,” and bai,” which translate as pine (symbol of tenacity, here it’s our piñon tree), bamboo (beloved for flexibility, a vital attribute for the original New Mexico settlers) and plum (its early flowers evoking the optimism of spring). I plan to capture in full the flavor of this eloquent triad.

This Japanese kite can turn its frown upside down when it’s finally aloft!
This Japanese kite can turn its frown upside down when it’s finally aloft!

After repeatedly visiting the killer kite exhibit (which I’m happy to report has been extended through July 27) at the Museum of International Folk Art, a kite-making demo strikes my fancy as fantastic fun. I also intend to learn to turn my homey tea party into an elegant tea ceremony. And getting into the beating heart of the whole shebang will be a rhythmic riot aided by the Smokin’ Bachi Taiko drums.

Sounds for Serenading Spring

If you’re like me, your life has its own soundtrack, so you’ll also be stoked that the City Different is inviting everyone to Tune into Santa Fe this year. As a die-hard fan of summer’s rich musical offerings, I’m grateful I don’t have to wait until then to get my music fix. The Santa Fe Symphony and Chorus season covers March with gold-medal violin work, and they’re serving up a big dose of symphonic music in April and May. My calendar is marked in pastels for Easter, obligating my attendance at Santa Fe Pro Musica’s Baroque Holy Week concerts, where the timeless setting of the Loretto Chapel and evocative musical excellence sweeps me back seamlessly back through the ages.

There couldn’t be a better place to tune into Santa Fe’s musical scene than the Loretto Chapel.
There couldn’t be a better place to tune into Santa Fe’s musical scene than the Loretto Chapel.

Spring brings Aspen Santa Fe Ballet back to the Lensic, and much as I delight in classic ballet repertoire, I cherish the chances that ASFB takes with more avant-garde programs. With a world premiere in the wings and a pair of striking works by contemporary choreographers, I’m relieved to know that if I miss the March performances at the Lensic, a one-night April encore guarantees my dance date.

No Passport Needed to Paint a Pretty Picture of Spring

While New Mexico Magazine features funny monthly tales in which New Mexico is confused with Old Mexico, the only passport required to visit Santa Fe is a Passport to the Arts. Thoughtfully timed with Mother’s Day weekend (by the way, Mom, it’s been way too long since you visited!), there’s much to love — and share — when we wander in and out of the Canyon Road galleries and watch artists ply talents in the open air. Beginning Friday night with openings and receptions, the weekend is rife with demonstrations, food, and music clustered behind adobe walls and in sculpture gardens of historic buildings.

Get a Passport to the Arts on Canyon Road – it’s the only way to travel! (Photo credit: Canyon Road Merchants)
Get a Passport to the Arts on Canyon Road – it’s the only way to travel! (Photo credit: Canyon Road Merchants)

I’m awed by the Artist QuickDraw on Saturday morning, a tour-de-force event when participants combine any and all media with individual talent and techniques to create original works of art under the constraints of time and an avid public audience. When time’s up, palette knives and brushes, carving tools and crayons are retired, as the artists prepare their finished pieces and hustle them over to the Live Art Auction. As for me, I relax while they work, but I’m prepared to bid right quick on a favorite piece!

May I Invite You to May … and June Too?

By Memorial Day, Santa Fe will be gussied up in spring finery, trees leafed out and stalks of blue flax bobbing. And El Rancho de las Golondrinas will be spinning the old mill’s water wheel as the New Mexico Fiber Arts Festival returns. I feel sheepish to confess I play favorites, but El Rancho really is one of my special places, especially when it’s time to shear sheep, dye their wool, and spin it into fine colorful yarns. My sister holds the family-knitting crown, and I’m the crochet queen, so I’ll wind up with some naturally hand-dyed yarn for both of us.

Maria had a little lamb – or two, or four. (Photo credit: El Rancho de las Golondrinas)
Maria had a little lamb – or two, or four. (Photo credit: El Rancho de las Golondrinas)

Memorial Day also showcases fine fiber handicrafts at the Native Treasures Indian Arts Festival. With 200-plus artists, there’s always an ample display of museum-quality wares to admire, and it’s a perfect appetizer for everything discovered later in summer at SWAIA Indian Market. Since I’ll be fiber-minded, maybe I’ll finally find that long-sought-after Navajo rug for my bedroom. And if not, I’ll still be coming home with a treasure or two.

Spring doesn’t truly end until mid-June, so kids and all, I’ll scoot back out to El Rancho for the Spring Festival and Children’s Fair as soon as school ends. Watching “settlers” baking outdoors in an horno (the traditional NM beehive-shaped oven) and herding livestock makes this re-enactment of New Mexico village life a history lesson disguised as a fun day in the sun for little ones. And with cute baby animals bleating and clucking, there’s an “awwwww” factor that’s hard to beat.

Be Impetuous and Spring into Action

Adobe walls offer the perfect backdrop for Santa Fe’s spring colors.
Adobe walls offer the perfect backdrop for Santa Fe’s spring colors. Photo Credit: Eric Swanson Photography

On the scale of awe factors, spring in Santa Fe is a hard-to-beat-the-pleasure time. Balmy weather, flowers blooming, people smiling, and blue skies make each day a precious chance to collect kindred souls and share with them the places I return to again and again. I’ve planted some seeds for spring adventures here in Santa Fe, so don’t wait for summer — have a spring fling of your own!

 

Make Awe-Inspiring Outdoor Adventures in Santa Fe a New Year’s Resolution

I know, I know. We usually enter into New Year’s resolutions out of guilt, and typically abandon them out of frustration right around February. But I propose a resolution you’ll stick with joyfully: Resolve to get back to nature and make some truly life-affirming discoveries in the great outdoors in and around Santa Fe. My off-the-beaten-path experiences bring me personal inspiration and much-needed rejuvenation. And what better way to kick off the New Year than to start planning your getaway to personal renewal in 2014? Okay, buckle up for adventure and let’s go.

Tour An Outdoor Museum with Stunning Views at Pecos National Historical Park

The ceremonial Pueblo kiva at Pecos National Historical Park never fails to awe and inspire.
The ceremonial Pueblo kiva at Pecos National Historical Park never fails to awe and inspire.

I can think of nowhere on earth where getting a hands-on history lesson is more visually stunning than Pecos National Historical Park. Located just 17 miles east of Santa Fe, the Park treats you to such unforgettable sights as the Pecos (or Ciquique) Pueblo dwellings dating back to 1100 AD, the remains of the Mission Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles de Porciúncula de los Pecos (a Spanish mission built in the early 17th century), and even a stretch of wagon ruts left by pioneers traversing the Santa Fe Trail. In all, you get a vivid snapshot of how human culture has travelled to and from the Pecos Valley for thousands of years. The Park is a wonder to behold, with piñon, juniper, and ponderosa pines towering above the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. I’d suggest bringing a lunch and setting aside plenty of time for gazing and sighing, because this place is a wonderland.

Go Back in (Geologic) Time at Bandelier National Monument

The unexcavated Tsankawi section of Bandelier National Monument offers a rustic, off-the-beaten-path experience.
The unexcavated Tsankawi section of Bandelier National Monument offers a rustic, off-the-beaten-path experience.

Bandelier National Monument will give your jaw a real workout, because it will be dropping over and over again. Take it from someone with first-hand experience of the place: The pristine nature, postcard-worthy terrain, and stunning pueblo dwellings will be forever imprinted in your mind. More than one million acres of the Santa Fe National Forest surround the Monument on all sides. This is the stuff breathtaking hikes and mountain bike rides are made of. Within the park, you’ll explore pueblo dwellings dating back to the 1300’s that appear both ancient and totally modern in design. These structures are among the Monument’s abundant evidence of a human presence going back over 11,000 years, which includes Petroglyphs, and dwellings literally carved into rock cliffs. That’s because nomadic hunter-gatherers followed migrating wildlife across the mesas and canyons here, and later, the Ancestral Pueblo people built the more permanent adobe settlements. In all, Bandelier National Monument comprises a visually staggering 33,000 acres of beautiful canyon and mesa country.

There’s also a relatively undiscovered gem at Bandelier: The unexcavated Tsankawi section of the Monument. Here, you can hike the very same trails used by the Ancestral Pueblo people, while marveling at numerous archeological sites and petroglyphs—all set against Tsankawi’s spectacular vistas. Be sure to bring your camera, because your friends are in for one legendary slide show! You can make the short one-hour drive to Bandelier from Santa Fe by heading north toward Los Alamos.

Looking for a Real Hot Spot? Valles Caldera National Preserve is Downright Volcanic

Your outdoor wish is Valles Caldera’s demand.
Your outdoor wish is Valles Caldera’s demand.

If you’re looking to get back to Nature, the natural choice is Valles Caldera National Preserve, located a short jaunt north west of Santa Fe. Expect to see wildlife, sweeping vistas, and the Preserve’s defining features: Hot springs, pristine streams, volcanic domes and “fumaroles,” or cracks in the earth’s crust that emit steam and gas. You see, Valles Caldera (also known as Jemez Caldera) is a wide volcanic caldera (or collapsed volcanic dome) that runs for almost 14 miles along the Jemez Mountains of northern New Mexico. The Preserve climbs to its highest point at Redondo Peak, an 11,253-foot resurgent lava dome located entirely within the Preserve. During the winter months, sleigh and wagon rides (complete with a guided tour) within the Preserve offer a magical experience for the whole family. Just be sure to check the available dates for sleigh and wagon rides when planning your trip. Warmer months at Valles Caldera offer a mind-blowing array of outdoor adventures that ranges from fly-fishing and elk hunting, to equestrian trail riding and mountain biking.

Valles Caldera is also home to several lush grass valleys teeming with wildlife. And get this: Only one of these valleys is accessible by a paved road. (Talk about getting back to your natural state!) Trust me, you’ll get the feeling you have this glorious natural setting to yourself, because the Preserve limits the number of visitors each day to ensure an optimal experience. Here, you’ll experience a tranquil sense of solitude that no man cave or bubble bath can touch.

Lose Yourself (and Find Yourself) at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

You’ll Feel Transported at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument.
You’ll Feel Transported at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument.

Just 40 miles southwest of Santa Fe lies the doorway to another world. Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument (Kasha-Katuwe means “white cliffs” in the Pueblo tongue) achieved its cinematic beauty to layers of volcanic rock and ash deposited by flows from a volcanic explosion 6 to 7 million years ago. Time and water then carved canyons and the legendary tent rocks that are cones of soft pumice stone that range in height from a few inches to 90 feet.

I must confess, Tent Rocks was a life-changer for me. When I first visited, I wandered in awe through the water-etched canyons and arroyos, then summited a bluff that overlooked these otherworldly tent rock formations. The best way I can describe them is a cross between prehistoric stone monuments and fanciful backdrops from classic Roadrunner cartoons. “How did the hand of Nature create something this surreal?” you’re left to wonder.

A hiker’s paradise, Tent Rocks offers trails for novices and adrenaline junkies alike. These trails reveal birds and other wildlife rarely seen by vacationers, not to mention countless meditative moments, and yes, envy-inducing photo-ops. I urge you to make Tent Rocks part of your resolution to explore the wonders of the outdoors. Here, you get a little of that outdoor “I did something adventurous” boost, while nourishing your soul with soul-stirring vistas and the hushed whispers of the canyons.

Make Outdoor Discoveries in Santa Fe a 2014 Resolution

Frijoles Canyon Inspires Santa Fe Visitors 365 Days a Year.
Frijoles Canyon Inspires Santa Fe Visitors 365 Days a Year.

Hey, there’s no law that says New Year’s resolutions have to be something you agonize over. Break out of that same-old thinking about the new year and plan your escape to the outdoor marvels you’ll find at every turn near Santa Fe. You’ll feel rejuvenated, reenergized, and reconnected to nature. And that’s a resolution you’ll love keeping.