Santa Fe County, with its endless trails, diverse landscapes, and 320 days of sunshine a year, is an outdoor lover’s paradise and has been designated a Silver-Level Ride Center by the International Mountain Bicycling Association. The area is enveloped in wilderness, and whether you’re looking for a quick stroll through the piñon and juniper trees or a weekend backpacking trek through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, here are some of the best trails in the area for every type of outdoor enthusiast.
On any given day you’ll see locals and visitors alike exploring the wilderness with a giddy grin on their face and possibly some words of wisdom to point you in the right direction. So answer the call of the outdoors and see why USA Today voted Santa Fe the #1 Outdoor Destination in the United States.
Your visit of Santa Fe has been filled with delicious food, fascinating museums and even flamenco dancing but now it’s time for some exercise and fresh air. Santa Fe outdoor beauty is filled with opportunities to walk, hike, bike or golf!
Santa Fean’s love to get outdoors, earning us the title of “Santa Fe, the 3rd healthiest city in the world” by Citiesjournal.com. Take a leisurely stroll on the Santa Fe River Walk! Conde Nast named it as one of the “10 Great River Walks”. As you walk and hike, know that you are breathing in some of the cleanest air in the country. So now you have heard the Santa Fe outdoor awards…it is time to explore.
You say you have no time for a hike? The Dale Ball Trail will change your mind. Sherman’s Travel spotlighted the Dale Ball Trail as one of “Six Under The Radar” hiking trails in 2014. These trails are 10 minutes from downtown…so no excuses! The system is a 22 mile network of trails from easy to challenging in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The trail features well numbered signs to provide easy navigation, as well as connecting to other local trails, including the Nature Conservancy, and the Dorothy Stewart trail.
Next up is the Atalaya Mountain Trail which is located on the east side of Santa Fe near St. John’s College. You will see why this is one of the most popular and easily accessible hiking trails in Santa Fe. The uphill hike is not for the faint of heart…it takes about three hours round trip, but you will be rewarded with great vistas!
Are you a bird watcher? If so, you’ll want to visit the Randall Davey Audubon Center & Sanctuary trail. Bring your binoculars and camera as approximately 190 species of birds can be found there. To protect bird peace dogs are not allowed on this trail.
Walk And Catch A Sunset
You say you want to catch a sunset? Why not walk to one? The Cross of the Martyrs is located on the northeast side of Paseo de Peralta between East Marcy and Otero Streets. This walk is a steep climb but well worth it as you will be treated to one of Santa Fe’s best kept secrets for sunset watching.
A walk just isn’t the same without your best friend…dogs like walks too! Santa Fe is definitely pet friendly all City parks allow dogs but leashes are required. If “Fido” and “Precious” want to run free like the wind, don’t worry. The 130-plus acre Frank S. Ortiz Park allow dogs without a leash. Your pet will also love to play off-leash at the Santa Fe Animal Shelter Dog Park. This dog park is fenced and includes a separate area for small dogs.
Bicycle paths and trails for all types of riders are located in and around the city. Our Santa Fe city trail map will help you plot your bike excursion.
If you’re a mountain bike enthusiast, check out La Tierra Trails. These trails are located in the northwest quadrant of Santa Fe. The Fat Tire Society also supplies information on group rides, trail conditions and maps.
A golf course can provide between five to seven kilometers of walking so why not a play a game of golf the next time you visit? Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe is Santa Fe’s well-run municipal golf course which most recently was featured on Fox Sports and Golf Life Television. You’re in for a spectacular golf experience with beautiful 360 degree panoramic views.
Be sure to wear comfortable shoes that are appropriate for the walk, park or trail you choose. Bring plenty of water, sun screen, sunglasses and rain gear…just in case. If visiting from a lower altitude, take it easy. Altitude sickness and dehydration can lead to serious difficulties, so rest often and drink plenty of water.
Getting out the door is one thing. Getting outdoors is another. Santa Fe beautiful blue skies and amazing mountains will connect you to the great outdoors. So whether you hike, run, bike or golf your outdoor playground awaits you!
It never fails. My out-of-town friends and family always liken Santa Fe’s vibe to that of wonderful European cities—winding boulevards lined with local shops; outdoor adventures galore under breezy mountain skies; plazas and patios and parks, oh my! Well, what’s not immediately apparent to visitors (but is to any Santa Fean) is the smartest way to experience all Santa Fe has to offer: Our old European friend, the bicycle. Exploring Santa Fe on two wheels helps you make the most of your Santa Fe getaway, and blend in with the ranks of us locals. So hop on and follow me. Santa Fe’s a great ride.
Santa Fe’s Many Bike Rental Shops Will Keep You Tall in the Saddle
Like countless folks who get their first glimpse of Santa Fe, you’ll probably take one look around the landscape and get the itch to ride a bike—even if you haven’t ridden in years. Fortunately, there are abundant rental shops around town for those in need of a quick cycling fix. These are my go-to’s:
New Mexico Bike N Sport
The guys at New Mexico Bike N Sportwill hook you up with a top-notch bike for the mountain trail, roadway, or anything in between. We’re talking full-suspension mountain bikes, carbon road bikes, comfy cruisers…the works.
Mello Velo Bicycles
Located smack dab in historic downtown, Mellow Velo Bicycles offers a number of premium and economy rentals, along with expert route advice and maps for on- and off-road adventures. They’ll personally guide you toward their favorite biking spots.
The Broken Spoke
Don’t let the name fool you: There are NO bikes with broken spokes at The Broken Spoke Bicycle Shop. Nothing but great bikes, great people, and great value here. Want a simple commuter bike? The lightest, fastest racing bike on the market? These guys have you covered.
Nothing beats traveling by rail…on a bike.
Okay, I freely admit that I won’t be cycling across Canada any time soon. But I do fancy myself a more-than-capable rider with insider Santa Fe biking info. Here’s the scoop: One of my favorite places to ride is also the most accessible for travelers. I’m talking about the Santa Fe Rail Trail. For its entire length, this trail is accompanied by a functioning railroad line. And you can expect an amazing diversity of rides to choo choo choose from. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)
You’ll enjoy asphalt trails along the first 3.5 miles of railroad track aside the Rail Runner line that stretches southward to Belen, south of Albuquerque. The next 11.5 miles are a different story. From here on, you’re riding winding, unpaved trail, that’s sure to kickstart your Santa Fe adrenaline. In all, the Santa Fe Rail Trail offers something for thrill seekers and chill seekers alike.
Enjoy patio dining a la bicycle.
Hey, we’ve all been there in Santa Fe. “Ya know, a top-shelf margarita sure would hit the spot. Some apps with green chiles slathered on top would heighten the experience. And oh yeah, I don’t wanna go anywhere too far to walk or too close to drive.” Well, you’re in luck. Just grab a bike and grab a bite at places like these:
Anasazi Restaurant and Bar
I can tell you, nothing beats riding over to The Anasazi and enjoying their fabulous brunch on the patio while people watching near the Plaza. The epitome of Santa Fe’s one-of-a-kind cuisine, the Anasazi will push your culinary horizons with Duck Enchiladas Mole, Diver Scallops and Kurobuta Pork Belly, Grilled Elk Tenderloin, and other mind-blowing dishes.
Second Street Brewery
Despite the name, Second Street Brewery is second to none. Pedal up to either of two very cool locations—the actual brewery on Second Street, near the Rail Trail, or the Taproom at the Railyard. Described as one of the most varied lineups of any brewery in New Mexico, Second Street offers the foods to match, and live music to boot.
The Shed is a Santa Fe landmark that’s always hopping. With its stunning patio in the heart of downtown, you can pedal over, enjoy an authentic New Mexican lunch, and then explore all the sights and shops of downtown. Courtyard seating’s in high demand, so hop on your bike and come early.
If funky is more your taste, The Cowgirl more than has you covered. With toe-tapping live music and a very eclectic menu that ranges from BBQ to Tex-Mex, The Cowgirl’s two patio-dining areas are the social hub of the Railyard District. There’s even a fun space for the kiddos to play, so make a family bike ride part of your itinerary.
WHAT you ride doesn’t matter. HOW you ride does.
We Santa Feans are totally into cycling, in all its forms. But don’t hop on your bike expecting some no-holds-barred free-for-all. Folks here have very well defined expectations for biking behavior—on city streets, trails, and public spaces. Luckily for you, we’ve developed a handy guide to all the riding tips and resources you’ll need for cycling in and around Santa Fe. Including the proper color of handlebar streamers for riding in The Plaza! (I jest.)
Can’t-Miss Events for Can’t-Quit Cyclists.
You can hop on two wheels darn near any day of the year in Santa Fe, but if you’re really bike-centric, these upcoming events are sure to get your heart racing.
Bike & Brew Fest
For anyone into the pursuit of hop-iness via two wheels, Santa Fe’s Bike & Brew Festival might just be your destiny. Packed with group rides, bike-along brewery tours, craft beer tastings, and loads of live music this off-road celebration will definitely make pallets and pedals come alive.
Santa Fe Century
Another excursion that’ll seriously get your spokes spinning is the Santa Fe Century ride. This Santa Fe tradition is one of our most cherished claims to fame in the cycling community. Skill level is no obstacle. You’ll get your pick of a 20-mile out-and-back ride, a 50-mile (Half-Century) ride or the full-on Century: 103 miles down the ancient Turquoise Trail. Really, what could be better than biking alongside unmatched scenery with centuries of history under your wheels?
Bike to Work Week
In Santa Fe, a good bike ride even makes your day job exhilarating. Santa Fe’s annual Bike to Work Week provides a great way to shift gears at work, and helps promote healthy, economical and environmentally friendly habits. The week =is packed with fun (and educational) activities like cycling clinics, mechanical tutorials and a community cruise. And it all culminates with a major bash at the Railyard, with can’t-miss music, food, and demos from Santa Fe’s foremost bike buffs.
Ride Through Santa Fe On a Bicycle Built for WooHoo!
I’m not sure what it is, but there’s something about riding a bike that takes any activity up a notch. From sipping a margarita on a restaurant patio, to meandering through art galleries, or just lazing on the grass and soaking up some sunlight, when you add a bicycle to the mix, you heighten the joie de vivre factor. So on your next visit to The City Different, join me and my friends as we pedal along the trails, paths and streets of Santa Fe. Your spirits will be riding high.
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
Editor’s Note: This week, we welcome a Santa Fe-based guest blogger who shares his insights into Santa Fe’s unsurpassed mountain biking scene.
As a pathological cyclist, I’ve logged some pretty amazing rides all across the Wild Wild West. But when my biking buddies want the ultimate recco for a destination, the first words out of my mouth are “Santa” and “Fe.” This place offers the best of all worlds when it comes to riding, with mountain trails both technical and carefree, along with an ideal mixture of ascents and descents—all on “tacky,” well-maintained surfaces. Plus, there’s minimal hiker foot traffic to slow you down. Any cyclist will tell you, that’s big. And here’s what really sets Santa Fe apart: Here, you’ll find pristine wilderness and comfy civilization coexisting in total harmony. So that when your epic ride’s over, the experience is just beginning: Award-winning microbrews, renowned art galleries, mind-blowing cuisine, and more lie a few winding paseos away. Plus, you’ll breathe easier (literally) knowing that The American Lung Association ranked Santa Fe near the top of its list of cleanest-air cities in the U.S. That’s right, my singletrack compadres, Santa Fe’s the whole green chile enchilada.
From Gnarly to Novice, Santa Fe Has a Biking Trail for You
Truth: All of the trails around Santa Fe will satisfy any adventure-craving cyclist. But the four most near and dear to my knobbies are: La Tierra, Chamisa, Windsor and Aspen Vista.
1) La Tierra. This Santa Fe landmark’s 15 miles of trails exhilarate mountain bikers of all skill levels. Bring your headlamp, because the riding’s great day or night.
2) Want to crank it up a notch? The Chamisa Trail (just six miles from downtown Santa Fe) takes you through all the grades. You start with a rolling loop along three different trails, all the way to technical rides through narrow canyons. Pine trees and grassy meadows are Chamisa’s thing. Definitely one of my Santa Fe faves.
3) Adrenaline Junkies, allow me to introduce you to your new best friend: Windsor Trail. You’re on your bike at 10,300 feet, and you’ll plunge through downhill rides along Tesuque Creek, taking your booty straight down 3,400 feet in just 10 miles. Pines, aspens, wildflower-covered meadows … but not for the faint of heart, y’all.
4) Are you ready? I mean, really ready? Alright, let’s head uphill on Aspen Vista. You’ll start at 10,000 feet and grind your way to an elevation over 12,000. Hey, you’ll love the alpine streams and meadows along the way. Then there are the aspens, and stunning views from Tesuque Peak, and the hammock you’ll hallucinate you’re swaying in aimlessly as you pedal higher and higher. This trail is the real deal.
Cycling Paradise and More on Tap at the Bike & Brew Festival
The only thing that compares to an epic ride with friends is hoisting a few good beers afterward. Year round, Santa Fe’s phenomenal craft beer scene is a can’t-miss for hop novices and beer-nerds alike, with the oldest microbrewery in New Mexico (Santa Fe Brewing Company) and Winterbrew, an event that’s quickly become a favorite among locals. But on May 15-17, Santa Fe will host its first-annual Bike and Brew Festival, sponsored by Outside Magazine, Cycle Santa Fe, Santa Fe Convention & Visitors Bureauand the New Mexico Tourism Department. This three-day tour de force of cycling and suds will feature local and nationally renowned brewers, and draw cyclists from around the world for craft beer events, group trail rides, the Santa Fe Century ride for the road bikers, live music, and bike-in film screenings. You can even register for a chance to win a personalized, hand-built bike by O’Leary Built Bikes and a luxury three-night stay at Hotel Santa Fe, The Hacienda and Spa, located in the heart of Santa Fe’s Railyard District. This only-in-Santa-Fe festival promises to be totally off the chain (pun intended), and will further solidify The City Different as a mountain biker’s paradise.
Find Mountain Bike Nirvana in Santa Fe
So now that you’ve got the inside scoop on Santa Fe’s dynamic mountain biking culture, you should be well-equipped to hop on the trails and embrace your inner Santa Fean. Both on and off the bike, Santa Fe offers wonders few places can top: Amazing mountain trails ranging from leg-crushing to laidback; cuisine that’ll rock your world; a thriving craft brew scene; live music galore; and so much more. Maybe that’s why Singletracks.com named Santa Fe as one of the top-10 mountain biking destinations in all of North America. So load up your bike and your appetite for adventure. In Santa Fe, you’re in for the ride of your life.
Editor’s Note: We welcome a guest blogger this week, recounting his guys’ adventure in Santa Fe last Spring.
I know it’s a trend for guys and their buddies to take getaways together these days, and I often get asked to recommend a destination. So I offer the following as a public service to those guys trying to agree on a location for their “broventure.” Last April, my buddies and I debated where we should go, and we decided on Santa Fe. We expected a great time, but what we found here totally blew our minds. See, we discovered an outdoor mecca for dudes, complete with light-up-your-taste buds Santa Fe food and amazing micro-brewed beer.
Great Buds + Great Outdoors = Great Santa Fe Memories
We were anxious to embark on our outdoor spree the very first day. Should we strap on the waders and do some fly fishing? Maybe hit the area’s legendary mountain bike trails? So many options! We had some avid skiers in the group, so we started the trip with the world-class slopes at Ski Santa Fe. At the time, Ski Santa Fe had one of the deepest bases of any mountain in New Mexico—a total skier’s paradise. Man, the skiers and boarders among us shredded away on our first morning in Santa Fe. But the day was still young, so we decided to head down the mountain and squeeze in a round of golf. Where else but Santa Fe can you do this?
My friends and I have been known to hit a golf ball or two before adjourning to the 19th Hole. In fact, one of the guys is a full-on scratch golfer. I’m here to tell you Santa Fe offers mind-blowing options for novice and advanced golfers alike. The Northern New Mexico Golf Trail, with its ten 18-Hole courses, is a wonderland of golf. We’re talking everything from mountain to high-desert courses, all with stunning views of the New Mexico landscape. At the top of the must-play list is Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe, just eight miles west of downtown. This legendary muni course is in high-end country club condition, with 360-degree views of the mountains. And yes, we did retire to The Links Bar & Grill after an amazing round. As you might expect, all that outdoor action made us mighty thirsty.
Santa Fe: Home of Craft Beers, Small-Batch Spirits, and Blissed-Out Guys.
So, guys being guys, we decided the next item on the vacation agenda should be glue that holds friendships together: beer. Lucky for us, Santa Fe is a goldmine of craft beer brewpubs. Our first stop was Blue Corn Brewery. To get a sampling of their many heavenly hops, we ordered beer flights including everything from Atomic Blonde Lager to the Roadrunner IPA and Gold Medal Oatmeal Stout. Blue Corn recently medaled at the Great American Beer Festival, so this place is more than legit. And if you want a plate of bona fide Santa Fe New Mexican food, their stacked enchiladas and braised pork stew ruin you for the same-old Mexican food back home.
With an amazing meal and a tasty flight of beers under our belts, we opted to raise our spirits even further at Santa Fe Spirits. These folks distill a dizzying array of small-batch spirits ranging from single-malt whiskey to gin and vodka to brandy. The master distiller gave us a guided tour of the entire distillery, and we sampled various cocktail concoctions in the tasting room. It was the ideal way for us guys to wind down the day. And yes, we took a cab back to the hotel. And oh, what a hotel: the Inn of the Governors.
Guys Kicking It Santa Fe Style at the Inn of the Governors
Okay, full disclosure about hotels in Santa Fe: There are a mind-boggling number of amazing choices. A) That’s a very good problem to have. B) You and the crew will get all the details you need to reach a consensus here. After much discussion, the guys and I settled on The Inn of the Governors. It’s located right in the heart of the Santa Fe action, and it’s loaded with old school Santa Fe vibe—adobe fireplaces and all. And get this: Their complimentary “Mountain Sunrise Breakfast” is enough to keep a guy satiated for an entire day. We’re talking Southwestern scrambled eggs, apple cured bacon, hashbrowns, and lots more. Unbelievable in terms of quality and quantity.
The Inn of the Governors has it all, including the Del Charro Saloon. Lots of hotels have a bar. But the Inn of the Governors has a saloon. Voted Santa Fe’s Best Bar by the Santa Fe Reporter, the Del Charro serves up dude-sized margaritas and local craft beer on tap. And its rugged, old west interior and constant stream of sports on flat screen TVs make it the perfect place to celebrate your guydom. If you’re hungry, well, you better be up for a challenge. From the Stuffed Green Chile Cheese Burger to the Chipotle Wings to the Frito Pie, Del Charro serves up heaping helpings that’ll have the biggest, baddest hombre begging for mercy. Del Charro is open til midnight daily, so there’s no excuse for missing out.
It’s Good to Be a Guy in Santa Fe.
Skiing, hiking, mountain biking, golf galore, food you’ll find nowhere else, a rocking microbrew scene, live music…the list of reasons why Santa Fe offers the perfect getaway for guys goes on and on. It’s hard to explain, but you’ll return with a feeling of invigoration. (Trust me on this.) If you’re thinking of getting away with your bros, think Santa Fe, Bro.
It’s so satisfying to wake up on a summer morning with a cool breeze playing through the piñon tree outside my windows. One terrific – and often unsung – benefit of living in Santa Fe is the weather. Santa Fe’s high elevation keeps it cooler than other parts of the state in summer. Standing in the shade of an old cottonwood is sublime, but instead of just standing, I recommend you heed the call of the wild and let an experienced guide reveal the summer beauty of the unique Santa Fe landscape just beyond the trees.
Santa Fe Walkabouts — So Much More than Walking
Ever heard of a Pinzgauer? I hadn’t either until I met Georges and Sue Mally of Santa Fe Walkabouts. This all-terrain Swiss vehicle is an off-roader like no other, able to climb a peak for an incomparable sunset view, or rock across a muddy streambed. Occasionally bumpy, but definitely memorable. Try traveling by Pinz on old Route 66, or hold your breath as Georges navigates a switchback tour ending with a dip in Cochiti Lake. Or let Walkabouts customize a family reunion with an off-road adventure through the New Mexico back-country.
Georges has biked through Europe and the United States, so if you like to be at the wheel, join him for a mountain bike tour. You can ride along a mesa, tour O’Keeffe Country, or navigate carefully along the rim of the Rio Grande, as Georges provides a scenic travelogue.
Hankering for a hike? Walkabouts lives up to its name, with easy-to-strenuous private guided tours. One of the Walkabouts’ specialties is a trip through the otherworldly terrain of Kasha-Katuwe, the Tent Rocks. This easy 5-hour scenic hike winds through soft post-volcanic forms that line a slot canyon and lead to a stunning mesa-top view.
Sue says tours deepen visitors’ cultural awareness about Santa Fe. “We showcase our nature and scenery, but what we add is the history,” Sue says. “The experience takes you beyond the typical vacation and we make it easy to surround yourself with Santa Fe’s natural beauty.” Walkabouts offers full-service tours, including a pick-up service.
Avid lovers of New Mexico, Georges and Sue have hiked and biked all the scenic byways, and their enthusiasm is contagious. Their mission is to promote responsible enjoyment, foster respect for wildlife, and experience physical and mental well-being in natural surroundings. It culminates in just a few words: let’s have fun outdoors!
Be Inspired with Outspire
Taking a hike can be as simple as lacing up your shoes and hitting the trail, but it becomes much more with an experienced guide. Biologist-turned-guide Karen Denison has been leading hikes in Santa Fe since 1997, and she’s assembled a deep roster of talent at Outspire — there’s even a geologist available for rock hounds. Karen says that “a good guide always remembers that the outing is not about what they know or what they think is fun or important. It’s about the guest. But if you really love a place, your guests can see that.”
A hike in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, named for the color that the setting sun casts on this terminal range of the Rockies, can be easy or challenging, planned for your level of ability. Along the way, Outspire guides point out seasonal alpine flowers, take you through a fragrant stand of towering pines or lead you to listen to the chattering of a grove of aspen trees high above Santa Fe. And if you just want to see the sun changing the peaks to a rosy red, Outspire’s short sunset walk does nicely.
Native American ruins dot the northern New Mexico landscape, and Bandelier National Monument, named for archaeologist Adolph Bandelier, is one of my hands-down favorite places. Settled, then abandoned, this ancient Puebloan ruin has been lovingly restored to reveal the legendary history and culture of New Mexico. Seeing the archaeological treasure of Bandelier in the interpretive company of an Outspire guide brings Native American New Mexico history to vivid life. Climb a ladder to peer into a cliffside cave dwelling or gaze down into a ceremonial kiva as you learn about the religious rituals of these Pueblo ancestors. A leisurely stroll through the park or a full-day backcountry hike, the choice is yours. Outspire’s guides want your outdoor experience to be fun, but Karen also hopes that “ … guests take away a deeper appreciation for all the interconnections here in New Mexico. Not only the land and wildlife but the people as well.”
The Name Tells You the Game Plan at Santa Fe Mountain Adventures
If you want to spend all your vacation time having fun, and none of it in pesky planning, Santa Fe Mountain Adventures will do the work for you. Owen Perrillo’s Mountain Adventures program lets you experience the best of outdoor Santa Fe, while his staff handles the logistics of a wide roster of adventures for groups and families.
Taking a trail-ride brings the Old West back to life in an unforgettable way. The blue sky spread high above the pines and fresh mountain air makes you feel right at home in nature’s magnificent forest cathedral. Bouncing along a high-alpine path on the back of an experienced horse from Tererro Riding Stables may bring Jeremiah Johnson to mind, but you won’t need mountain man skills, since snacks and beverages come along on the ride. What you will need to bring are the usual suspects: appropriate clothing and footgear, a sun hat and sunscreen, and a camera, of course, to capture your memories. Not to worry, Mountain Adventures will make sure you’re prepared before you saddle up.
Adventure Director Kerry Helke notes that these adventures are also great for those on business travel. Work colleagues have gotten to know each other and the city by discovering the joys of downtown scavenger hunts, which are a fun and unique way to discover the beautiful nature and history of Santa Fe. SFMA can accommodate travelers with limited time by customizing hikes in nearby mountain trails. “People don’t realize that we have a national forest right in our back yard,” says Kerry. “We go a mile or two up the trail, and we’re on a scenic mountainside.”
Remember those scavenger hunts at your neighborhood slumber party? SFMA turns the hunt into an orienteering feat with their family-friendly geocaching hike. Combining an enjoyable physical activity with a learning experience, a GPS device helps you find clues and locate cool treasures for the kids as they develop an understanding of how coordinates tell them where they are. It’s a family-bonding adventure and summer-school math lesson in disguise.
Santa Fe Is an Outdoor Adventure
I treasure the world-class museums and galleries of Santa Fe, our musical and performing arts, and I relish our world-renowned cuisine. But when I wake up each morning, the first thing I do is look outside to see that azure sky beckoning me. Let Mother Nature welcome you outside into her glorious landscape for a memorable time in the pristine wilderness. Experiences like a Pinz tour down arroyos transport you to a side of Santa Fe you never even knew existed.
Editor’s note: As much as she would like to fancy herself the outdoorsy sporty type, our writer’s legendary inappropriate footwear gives her away. This week, she turns over the blog to one of her more sports-minded friends who understands flip-flops are not always the best shoe choice for Santa Fe.
It doesn’t take much effort to turn Santa Fe into an outdoor sports playground. With its extremely refreshing weather and gorgeous surroundings, people just can’t help but want to go out and get moving. Biking, running, golf, baseball — from the serene to the extreme — Santa Fe is a natural sports paradise. That’s a good thing, because with so much delectable food in Santa Fe, you’ll be looking for a thrilling way to burn a few calories.
I know you are excited, but let’s go over some basic tips for getting active in Santa Fe. The City Different is located at an elevation of 7,000 feet. So while the air might be the cleanest in the country, it’s probably a little thinner than what you’re used to. Allow yourself a day to get acclimated before embarking on that epic hike or trail run. Drink plenty of water and avoid excessive intake of alcohol; save the silver coin margaritas for the post-ride victory celebration. Thinner air also means you’re going to want lots of sunscreen. And, of course, dress in layers for cool mornings and warm afternoons.
Mountain biking in Santa Fe is truly world class, offering everything from beginner trails to expert terrain. The prestige of Santa Fe’s trails lead the International Mountain Bike Association to hold their world summit here. Choose a slow-paced scenic route, a challenging brutal trek, or a fast-paced downhill run like the Windsor Trail.
Just minutes north of downtown, the Dale Ball South trail network is an easy-to-access, immaculate 22-mile trail system offering single-track loops for all levels of riders. You don’t need expensive gear or a closet full of race jerseys to enjoy an invigorating ride overlooking the city. Just hop on, pedal, and enjoy. Experienced riders looking for a challenge can take on the Atalaya trail leading to the top of Atalaya Mountain. Ride on weekdays to avoid crowds. Check out the Santa Fe Fat Tire Society for the inside scoop on the best trails and group rides.
For those with an inclination for organized events, make plans for Santa Fe’s 28th Annual Century Ride, rich in both pedal power and tradition. 100 miles of history pass under your wheels as you ride the ancient Turquoise Trail across the Ortiz and San Pedro Mountains, the Estancia Valley, on to the historic village of Galisteo, and back to Santa Fe. Six food stops along the way provide riders with hydration, snacks, fresh fruit, and more. There are 25- and 50-mile “out & back” routes for riders not yet ready to knock out the full century. The Century Ride gets rolling May 19. Don’t miss your chance to ride this historic trail.
Running: The Santa Fe to Buffalo Thunder Half Marathon + Gladiator Dash
Prefer to tackle Santa Fe on foot? Explore one of the many running trails in and around the city and its glorious natural surroundings. If you’re looking for more motivation, try the Santa Fe to Buffalo Thunder Half Marathon, one of Santa Fe’s many destination races. The primarily downhill run takes you from the heart of historic Santa Fe to the magnificent Buffalo Thunder Casino.
The USATF-certified course has spectacular views of the Sangre de Cristo and Jemez Mountains and takes runners into the colorful Rio Grande Valley. The starting pistol fires Sunday, September 15th. The run benefits Global Running Culture, a nonprofit group dedicated to promoting youth fitness.
Runners looking for something a bit more “extreme” should get down and dirty with the Gladiator Dash. The Dash is a 5K “Ultra Extreme Mud Obstacle Challenge” that commands you to climb, jump, crawl, and conquer. This race will definitely leave your body covered (and I mean covered) in mud. It’s an absolute mess and an insane amount of fun. The Gladiator Dash wreaks havoc on September 7th. Sign up with a friend or race as a team.
Sports in Santa Fe aren’t all about testing your limits; they can also test your patience. Experience the glory and heartache at one of Santa Fe’s exceptional golf courses. Schedule a tee time at the Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe, named after the late Santa Fe legend. This municipal course is an attractive value, with lush, challenging greens, magnificent views, and a friendly staff. If the weekly tournaments don’t keep you coming back, the expansive pro shop and delicious grill just might. Like Marty Sanchez himself, this course is a gift to the city. Walk-ups are welcome.
Last year, professional baseball arrived in Santa Fe with the Fuego. Pecos League commissioner and Santa Fe owner Andrew Dunn called the Fuego’s first season at Fort Marcy Park, “quite possibly the best year of any expansion team I’ve ever had.” The brand new team led the independent league in attendance. How’s that for hometown spirit! “The community understands the commitment of the players and appreciates the players and fully supports the team,” said Dunn. The Fuego’s first home game is against the Taos Blizzard May 16th at Fort Marcy Park. Take a nine-inning break and root, root, root for the home team.
Whether planning a trail run or lining up a birdie, there’s so much to experience and explore in Santa Fe. If you really want to get away from it all, nothing helps melt stress like exercise. Remember, after a workout, be sure to properly recover and refuel. As for me, I’ll either be on my bike, debating what club to use at Marty Sanchez, or at Fort Marcy Park wearing a Fuego cap and sipping on a Happy Camper IPA.
Santa Fe has been arousing spirits and stirring passions for over 400 years. Maybe it’s the city’s dramatic sunsets and picturesque mountain vistas. Or maybe it’s the charming adobe buildings, cozy kiva fireplaces, and tantalizing cuisine. Whatever it is, Santa Fe, like a Pablo Neruda poem, embodies true love, making it an ideal destination for a romantic getaway. Did you know that “Santa Fe” is the universal word for “love”? Ok, not really. However, The City Different does have the ability to inspire the heart, rekindle an old flame, or spark a new one. Don’t take my word for it. U.S. News Travel recognized Santa Fe as a top destination for romantic retreats and Livabilitydubbed it one of the Top 10 Romantic Cities in America. Below is my insider’s guide to a romantic stay in Santa Fe.
What better way to re-ignite a romance or proclaim your love than by spending a day indulging in fine art, breath-taking skies and mountains, and delectable cuisine? Start with a couple’s massage and a soak in one of Santa Fe’s calming spas. Then, make your way to Kakawa Chocolate House for some midday sweetness. Your senses will be invigorated after sharing a few cups of Kakawa’s “Tonantzin” chocolate elixir, an herbal aphrodisiac said to flame the passions within. While you’re there, purchase a box of Aphrodite Truffles, which were inspired by the Love Goddess herself.
Nothing is more sensual than a spicy encounter in the kitchen. Spend the day mastering the flavors of the real Southwest with a cooking class taught by highly acclaimed local chefs. Try the “Green Chile Workshop” at Santa Fe School of Cooking, or the “Exploring España” class at the Santa Fe Culinary Academy to really heat things up. For you wine lovers, sample award-winning vino varietals with an intimate tour at Estrella Del Norte Vineyard, which offers a “Cupid’s Arrow Wine Lover’s Special” for the month of February.
If museums and world-class art stimulate your desires, head to Museum Hill to explore exhibits like “New World Cuisine, the Histories of Chocolate Mate y Mas” at the Museum of International Folk Art. Then make your way to the legendary Canyon Road where you’ll discover vibrant international art galleries. Stroll the intimate adobe walled streets as you treasure hunt for the perfect piece of original artwork to fall in love with.
In the midst of all the affection, take some time to appreciate the scenery with the person you love. Just the two of you…explore Santa Fe’s crisp, pure mountain air and whispering pine forests with a hike or horseback ride through the peaceful Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Stop by the Santa Fe Farmers Market before you head up and grab a few ingredients like local red chile raspberry jam and artisan cheese, the perfect compliment for your romantic adventure. Having Santa Fe’s pristine wilderness to yourselves will reinforce your appreciation for nature, as well as each other.
As daylight turns to dusk, Santa Fe’s evening skies create a symphony of colors, transforming from turquoise blue to deep orange and red. Marvel at the sunset and enjoy a specialty silver coin margarita from La Fonda’s fifth-floor Bell Tower, the highest terrace in Santa Fe (open weather permitting). Or hop on the Pinzgauer Tour offered by Santa Fe Walkabouts for a ride up to Baldy Peak, offering a 12,000-foot panoramic sunset view.
The City Different is home to an unrivaled collection of James Beard recognized culinary gourmands and local farm-to-table food artisans. Whether you’re looking for elegant sophistication or something a little more quaint, Santa Fe is teeming with romantic restaurant options. After a day of passion, have an intimate dinner next to a crackling piñon fire at Rio Chama Steakhouse. And at the end of the night, enjoy a night cap with your amor at Secreto Bar, located inside the sublime St. Francis Hotel. Here you’ll discover ancient wine-making traditions introduced by Santa Fe’s Franciscan monks, as well as a wide array of award-winning, hand-crafted cocktails.
Romance is found everywhere in Santa Fe. Wherever you go, you’ll be smitten by the city’s charm, sophistication, and ever-present beauty. And as your love for Santa Fe grows, so will your love for one another.
Fine art meets fine dining in this one of a kind event. There are fashion shows, an auction, home tours, and the Edible Art Tour–an evening of gallery hopping with art-inspired nibbles prepared by the area’s finest chefs.
This innovative dance company returns home this March with a program featuring Kylián’s poignant Return to a Strange Land, Alejandro Cerrudo’s striking new ballet Last, and Trey McIntyre’s seductive Like a Samba.
Held the last Friday of every month, this exciting world-class contemporary art experience opens up the hip Railyard Arts District at night. RAD (The Railyard Art District), a cooperative of 10 Railyard art galleries hosts its “Last Friday Art Walk” throughout the Railyard.
If you’re craving some outdoor adventure, then Santa Fe needs to be at the top of your must-explore list. Its gorgeous landscape is home to miles of trails, perfect for hikers and bikers of all experience levels. And whether journeying on foot or on wheels, you’ll be breathing the cleanest air in the country, just ask the American Lung Association. You don’t have to go far to enjoy this outdoor enthusiast’s paradise – the wilderness of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains begins just minutes from downtown Santa Fe. It’s time to hit the trails!
The Aspen Vista Trail is the most popular in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Its gradual uphill climb is ideal for hikers of all abilities and ages. And, when the snow starts falling the trail makes for the perfect cross-country skiing. If you’re looking for a steeper ascent, head to the top of the Atalaya Mountain Trail. You can catch your breath as you admire majestic views of the Rio Grande valley and Santa Fe below.
There are many other trails that provide scenic trips through some of the most magnificent scenery in the southwest. Awe at the large stands of evergreens, piñon and juniper forests, cottonwood and willow trees, lush aspen-fir forests, vibrant fields of wildflowers, and stunning monarch butterflies. You can easily a find great place to picnic, camp, bird watch, and more. Before you head out, don’t forget to prepare for high elevation adventure. Fuel up with a traditional New Mexican breakfast, Café Pasqual’s and the Plaza Café both dish up tasty huevos rancheros.
For those who prefer their fresh-aired splendor a bit bumpier, Santa Fe provides some of the best mountain biking in the southwest. Trails range from slow-paced scenic routes to challenging brutal treks. The Dale Ball Trails is an easy-to-access, immaculate 22-mile trail system just minutes from the plaza. Ranging from St. John’s College to the Sierra Del Norte trailhead just north of downtown, the trail network offers single-track loops for all levels of riders. You don’t need a custom helmet and endorsement deal to enjoy an invigorating ride overlooking the city. Just hop on, pedal, and enjoy.The newly renovated La Tierra trail network of service roads, double track and single-track runs, takes riders through a classic New Mexico piñon forest and expansive open spaces. This trail system is suited for novice riders, but do expect to see experienced cyclists blur past.
And just in case any doubt remained about Santa Fe’s bike cred, the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) chose the City Different as the destination for thier 2012 World Summit (October 10th to the 13th). The conference will discuss and explore all things mountain bike. Attendees can expect a week of professional development, rejuvenation, networking, and of course, unparalleled riding.
Looking for something a little more low-key? The annual Santa Fe Gourmet Classic held every fall, offers riders of all levels the opportunity to cycle for their supper. This 65-mile gastronomical cruise features rest stops serving up scrumptious snacks and gourment southwest cuisine. The non-competitive ride offers beautiful views of the Sangre de Cristo and Sandia mountains.
Flat tire? Forgot your padded shorts? If you need a quick repair or to restock some gear, stop by Rob & Charlie’s for Santa Fe’s best selection of bikes and parts. If the only part you’re missing is the bike itself, Mellow Velo can hook you up with a rental. Whatever you do, just make sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen. You don’t want anything to get in the way of post-journey victory enchiladas.
Challenging rides, gorgeous hikes, and spectacular views, make Santa Fe the perfect destination for anyone who loves a vacation that roams. So tie up those laces and get ready to see Santa Fe in its natural and rugged beauty. Happy trails!