Let’s Get Outdoors!

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.

Santa Fe’s outdoor beauty is your host to walking, hiking or biking in the City Different.
Santa Fe’s outdoor beauty is your host to walking, hiking or biking in the City Different.

Trail Mix

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!

Set your pace with an easy or challenging hike on the Dale Ball Trails.
Set your pace with an easy or challenging hike on the Dale Ball Trails.

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.

Don’t forget your camera. You will want to capture a “Santa Fe Sunset”.
Don’t forget your camera. You will want to capture a “Santa Fe Sunset”.

Paw-er Walkers

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.

Dogs romp and run free at specifically designated dog parks.
Dogs romp and run free at specifically designated dog parks.

Park The Car And Ride A Bike

Santa Fe is an ideal bicycling environment due to its compact size, moderate terrain, and sunny weather. There are several bike rental shops that can help you find the right bicycle for your outing. Mellow Velo, New Mexico Bike and Sport and The Broken Spoke are three that are ready to help. In 2011, the City of Santa Fe was recognized by the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) as a Bronze-level “Bicycle Friendly Community”.  The Silver Award was then bestowed by LAB in 2013 and 2014. The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) recognized Santa Fe as a Silver Level Ride Center. The International Santa Fe was also rated as “One of America’s Top Mountain Bike Towns” by USA Today.

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.

Why not plan a family ride on a Santa Fe bike trail?
Why not plan a family ride on a Santa Fe bike trail?

Fore!

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.

Golf with wonderful mountain views.
Golf with wonderful mountain 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!

 

Outdoor Adventure Awaits in Santa Fe

The view from Santa Fe’s back porch beckons you to explore.
The view from Santa Fe’s back porch beckons you to explore.

In addition to Santa Fe’s countless indoor wonders (transcendent performing arts theaters, sumptuous spas and jaw-dropping restaurants, just to name a few), the City Different’s pristine natural surroundings make it Mother Nature’s most beautiful theme park. Summer provides the ideal time to explore Santa Fe’s dozens of hiking paths for any level of experience and fitness level, river rafting and some of the best mountain biking trails in North America. Ski Santa Fe transforms into a mountain playground during summer, and the city center is a walkable, bikeable adventure, complete with live music on the Santa Fe Bandstand, al fresco dining and patio happy hour-ing. No visit to Santa Fe is complete without experiencing the natural beauty that’s everywhere you turn here. All you have to do is step outside.

The Travel Bug Will Have You Itching for Outdoor Exploration

The Travel Bug has all the resources to plan your outdoor escape.
The Travel Bug has all the resources to plan your outdoor escape.

Getting out and about is a breeze in Santa Fe. But sometimes, we adventurers need a little guidance. The Travel Bug is my go-to gear shop, with shelves brimming with travel guides and maps to make any Santa Fe excursion a success. And when you’re ready to go full Indiana Jones, they’ve got all the right apparel and cool travel accessories. Let’s be honest, we all feel a little more adventurous in a stylish safari hat. Seriously though, you won’t regret taking in the Travel Bug before happily taking in Santa Fe’s many outdoor treasures.

Fuel Your Appetite for Fresh Air at The Beestro

Grab a delectable picnic from Beestro and hit the trail running.
Grab a delectable picnic from Beestro and hit the trail running.

Before hiking or biking through the natural splendor of Santa Fe, make sure your journey includes a hearty picnic lunch from one of my favorite eateries, The Beestro. This quaint café is one of downtown Santa Fe’s hidden gems and makes it easy to grab some gourmet sustenance for your hike or ride. Their stacked homestyle sandwiches and hot-off-the-grill Panini (lamb and feta, anyone?) will conquer any appetite. And for the veggie inclined, Beestro’s farmers’ market salads burst with unexpected flavors ranging from quinoa tabouleh to red chile honey salmon. Best of all, you can pop in, gather up the goodness and head for foothills.

Anyone Can Be a Mountaineer in Santa Fe

Santa Fe makes it easy to get up close and personal with nature.
Santa Fe makes it easy to get up close and personal with nature.

In Santa Fe, you can get back to nature then get back to the middle of town in minutes. The Dale Ball Trails offer an idyllic starting point. This trail system winds through some of the area’s most beautiful natural landscapes in the area, and with several trail entrances around town, embarking on your hike is a breeze. With more than 22 miles of trails through the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, hiking Dale Ball is always a new experience. Even if you’re like me and low on the rugged adrenaline-junkie scale, one trek through Dale Ball will bring out your explorer. And don’t worry about high-end gear. The widely varied trail surfaces enable you to hike in anything from sneakers to sandals to hiking boots. So while you’re in Santa Fe, grab a hat, pack plenty of water and sunblock and head for out-of-this-world hikes that are just-down-the-street convenient.

Take Refuge With the Wild at Audubon Center

The serenity of Audubon’s gardens offers a soulful retreat.
The serenity of Audubon’s gardens offers a soulful retreat.

Even during an action-packed vacation, sometimes you have to stop and smell the lavender. The Randall Davey Audubon Center offers 135 acres of peaceful habitat for all manner of plants, animals and visitors. Located just ten minutes from the center of The Plaza, this sanctuary is home to Ponderosa Pine forests, picture-perfect meadows and bird walks led by local experts. (Be sure to bring your binoculars or rent a pair at the on-site shop.) Once you’ve found your bliss and want to step up the exercise a bit, do yourself a favor and hit the Spring Canyon loop. This easy-to-navigate trail makes for a relatively simple trek, but its small ascent doubles as a workout with views no gym can match.

For Instant Adventure, Just Add Water

Get your vacation off the ground with the rush of river rafting.
Get your vacation off the ground with the rush of river rafting.

Nothing says summer fun like riding the waves with the whole family. And when you’re in Santa Fe, all it takes is a half- or full-day excursion with Santa Fe Rafting Company. Just park at the boatyard right in the center of Santa Fe on Cerrillos Road and it’s a quick jaunt to the Rio Grande. I know whitewater rafting can seem an intimidating venture for the uninitiated, but Santa Fe Rafting’s trained and certified guides can show even a landlubber how to tame the river. Just choose your desired level of “OMG,” from slow flows to full-on whitewater rapids, and you’re in for an epic day on the legendary Rio Grande.

Canyon Road Makes the Morning Jog an Art Form

 

Exploring Santa Fe’s galleries on foot invigorates body and soul.
Exploring Santa Fe’s galleries on foot invigorates body and soul.

Canyon Road is famously known as Santa Fe’s premier art destination. But any Santa Fean will tell you that a brisk morning jog up Canyon Road offers visual delights of another order. Ascending the hill to this legendary artistic haven in the crisp morning air, then strolling the vibrant sidewalks and soaking in the creative energy, well, it makes for a morning that will make your whole week. Then you can head toward the city center via Alameda for a totally different vibe on your return. Art and exercise along Canyon Road offer just the prescription for an inspiring morning.

Leave No Stone Unturned on Your Trip to Santa Fe

A simple stroll downtown offers a breathtaking outdoor experience.
A simple stroll downtown offers a breathtaking outdoor experience.

There’s a world of art in Santa Fe that isn’t confined to gallery walls. You’ll find masterpieces everywhere you look among Santa Fe’s piñon forests, sweeping mountain vistas and winding canyons. The fact is, there are so many ways to explore the natural wonders of Santa Fe, you’ll want to develop a separate itinerary just for outdoor adventures. Whether you’re gazing at the skyline from the city’s numerous parks or hiking your way to a spectacular mountaintop overlook, a visit to Santa Fe is guaranteed to expand your horizons. And I guarantee the view is amazing.

 

Everything’s Coming Up Roses in Santa Fe

 

The sun is hard at work in Santa Fe, coaxing bulbs to put out their colorful blossoms to sway in the spring breezes. We’ve had our final drift of snow, and day by day, the sun sticks around in the sky longer and longer. I say it’s time to take a leisurely tour to look around the colorful Santa Fe landscape and be assured the city is indeed in full bloom.

Capture the Colors at The Bishop’s Garden

Seeing Santa Fe’s spring color in the Bishop’s Garden makes a person feel in the pink!
Seeing Santa Fe’s spring color in the Bishop’s Garden makes a person feel in the pink!

The harbinger of spring in Santa Fe is the ubiquitous forsythia. The rich yellows of this hardy plant, followed swiftly by fragrant flowering fruit trees, call me to the Bishop’s Garden, designed by Bishop Lamy who built the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis. A colorful real-life character, he is the famed subject of Willa Cather’s Santa Fe-centric novel, Death Comes for the Archbishop, a must-read for lovers of Santa Fe.

I love spending some quiet moments in our Cathedral before making a meditative circuit on the path under the beautiful blossoming trees. My next stop? A picnic on the Plaza, where the hanging baskets add color to the heart of our historic town.

Canyon Road, Painted in Mother Nature’s Hues

The Santa Fe Plaza is painted in nature’s colors in the blooming months of spring and summer.
The Santa Fe Plaza is painted in nature’s colors in the blooming months of spring and summer.

 

 

Any historic town deserves help sustaining special sites, and we’re fortunate the Historic Santa Fe Foundation is so firmly rooted in its commitment to preserving the gorgeous gardens at El Zaguan. Built in the 1840’s, the former Johnson family Canyon Road hacienda is named for its long interior hallway (the zaguan) and has served as an artists’ colony since the 1920’s when it was converted into a series of small apartments.  The Foundation continues this tradition by offering one-year residencies to artists and writers whose work benefits from the serene surroundings.

A quiet spot in the heart of Santa Fe, El Zaguan welcomes meditative moments. (Photo Credit: The Historic Santa Fe Foundation)
A quiet spot in the heart of Santa Fe, El Zaguan welcomes meditative moments. (Photo Credit: The Historic Santa Fe Foundation)

 

Some of the trees in the small but lush garden are well over 100 years old, and I love to lean against their trunks and listen to leaves murmur as they did in years gone by. Stands of lilac, lavender, and roses perfume the air from spring to fall. The Santa Fe Master Gardener Association partners with the Foundation, ensuring that the garden is a water-wise oasis retaining its historic origins and beauty. Open Monday through Saturday, 9am to 5pm, the Master Gardeners are on-site and happy to plant-talk on Thursdays and Saturdays.

A 400-plus Year-old City Has a Gardening History

A town as old as ours is bound to count dedicated gardeners amongst its citizenry. The Santa Fe Garden Club relies on many dedicated members, who planted the sculpture garden at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture and maintain and support gardens at the New Mexico Museum of Art and the Museum of Spanish Colonial Arts.

Rocks, plants, adobe … what could be more Santa Fe than being behind adobe walls? (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Garden Club)
Rocks, plants, adobe … what could be more Santa Fe than being behind adobe walls? (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Garden Club)

If you think Santa Fe is all sagebrush and cottonwoods, you’re in for a delightful surprise! Mid-April through mid-October, the Garden Club’s Pequeno Tours (pequeno means little) offer intimate tours of three stunning homes and gardens, with a knowledgeable, plant-loving Garden Club member as guide. The tours run frequently, and are a one of a kind experience. Come July, Santa Fe is a riot of color, and the Garden Club’s Behind Adobe Walls Home and Garden Tour is too. Two successive Tuesdays take flora fanatics to eight fantastic gardens, located in private estates and historical sites.

Santa Fe Plants for the Future with a New Botanical Garden

The magnificent museum complex on Museum Hill gained a new partner across the road when the Santa Fe Botanical Garden arose amid the junipers and piñon trees. Celebrating our region’s biodiversity and plant heritage, the Botanical Garden began in 1987 with the seed of an idea planted in the minds of local gardeners. By 1993, the 35-acre Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve opened adjacent to El Rancho de las Golondrinas and cultivated the desire for a city site to host native plants and educational events. In 2006, with 11 acres of land leased long-term from the city, planning began in earnest. With the first phase completed, the Garden opened its gates for year-round viewing in 2013. I’m excited about Origami in the Garden, a large-scale outdoor sculpture exhibition with creations from Santa Fe artist Kevin Box. Kevin’s work is on display until October 25th, and the self-guided cell phone tour ensures a fully enlightened experience whenever I visit.

Blue skies and native plants tell the tale of Santa Fe’s botanical history. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Botanical Garden)
Blue skies and native plants tell the tale of Santa Fe’s botanical history. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Botanical Garden)

Plans are laid for the next phase, showcasing plants used by local cultures throughout Santa Fe’s ancient past. Clustered around a central plaza, the newest plots will include plants traditionally used for healing, cooking, weaving, and dyeing, along with outdoor classrooms to host programs for the whole family.

Pick Some Pretty Posies at the Santa Farmers’ Market

Growing Southwest beauty differs from planting in the moist Midwest or coastal rain-belts. Be it food for the table or flowers for the soul, those who live by hands in the soil bring their harvest to the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market Tuesdays and Saturdays. With spring’s arrival, the Market has moved back outside, and that means vendors are multiplying. Right now, I’m all about fresh greens to grace my plate, and beautiful bunches of flowers to make my dinner table festive only gets easier as spring turns to summer.

You can pick a basket of blossoms or a bushel of chiles at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Sage Inn)
You can pick a basket of blossoms or a bushel of chiles at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Sage Inn)

Make Yours a Colorful Journey to Santa Fe

A Colorful Journey … there’s more than one reason this phrase is the City Different’s calling card. The sun is painting long shadows to frame the bright hues tucked against adobe walls and lining garden walks all over town. I am nurturing the notion of adventures yet to come, but in the meantime, I invite you to share the blessings of colorful blossoms and leaves that whisper softly, “Come outdoors and celebrate spring’s return.”

Santa Fe On a Bike Is One Sweet Ride

 

You didn’t know Santa Fe culture included bike culture, did you?
You didn’t know Santa Fe culture included bike culture, did 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

Kenny at Mellow Velo Bicycles will fix you up for any Santa Fe ride.
Kenny at Mellow Velo Bicycles will fix you up for any Santa Fe ride.

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 Sport will 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. 

The Santa Fe Rail Trail offers a great way to explore The City Different.
The Santa Fe Rail Trail offers a great way to explore The City Different.

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.

Your taste buds are in for quite a ride at the bike-friendly Anasazi patio.
Your taste buds are in for quite a ride at the bike-friendly Anasazi patio.

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

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.

Cowgirl

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.

If you plan to bike in Santa Fe, plan on adhering to the do’s and don’ts.
If you plan to bike in Santa Fe, plan on adhering to the do’s and don’ts.

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. 

Better get it in gear for the 29th Annual Santa Fe Century Ride on May 18th.
Better get it in gear for the 29th Annual Santa Fe Century Ride on May 18th.

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!

If you didn’t think Santa Fe could get more magical, just add bike. (Photo courtesy of BNMI.)
If you didn’t think Santa Fe could get more magical, just add bike.
(Photo courtesy of BNMI.)

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.

 

 

 

 

Mud, Sweat & Cheers: Mountain Bikers Rave About Santa Fe

Another giddy cyclist pedaling Santa Fe’s righteous trails. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Yates Photography)
Another giddy cyclist pedaling Santa Fe’s righteous trails. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Yates Photography)

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

Your mountain biking wish is Santa Fe’s command. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Yates Photography)
Your mountain biking wish is Santa Fe’s command. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Yates Photography)

 

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.

A pre-dawn ride on the La Tierra Trail is breathtaking visually and physically. (Photo courtesy of Bob Ward)
A pre-dawn ride on the La Tierra Trail is breathtaking visually and physically.
(Photo courtesy of Bob Ward)

 

 

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.

The Chamisa Trail’s lush foliage makes it popular among pedal pushers.  (Photo courtesy of Bob Ward)
The Chamisa Trail’s lush foliage makes it popular among pedal pushers.
(Photo courtesy of Bob Ward)

 

 

 

The Winsor Trail is part roller coaster, part water park.  (Photo courtesy of Bob Ward)
The Windsor Trail is part roller coaster, part water park.
(Photo courtesy of Bob Ward)

 

 

 

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.

Aspen Vista Trail takes down another rider. “Worth it,” says the rider.  (Photo courtesy of Andrew Yates Photography)
Aspen Vista Trail takes down another rider. “Worth it,” says the rider.
(Photo courtesy of Andrew Yates Photography)

Cycling Paradise and More on Tap at the Bike & Brew Festival

IBU + PSI = FUN at the Bike & Brew Festival.
IBU + PSI = FUN 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 Bureau and 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

Trembly, sweaty, dirty, elated riders fresh off the trail.
Trembly, sweaty, dirty, elated riders fresh off the trail.

 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.

 

Want the Ultimate Guys’ Getaway? Head to Santa Fe, Bro.

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.

All other muni courses pale in comparison to Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe.
All other muni courses pale in comparison to Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe.

Santa Fe: Home of Craft Beers, Small-Batch Spirits, and Blissed-Out Guys.

Blue Corn Brewery handcrafts amazing ales and stacked enchiladas.
Blue Corn Brewery handcrafts amazing ales and stacked enchiladas.

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.

Cheers to the folks at Santa Fe Spirits for the guided tour of their distillery.
Cheers to the folks at Santa Fe Spirits for the guided tour of their distillery.

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

The Inn of the Governors’ heated pool offers even more liquid refreshment.
The Inn of the Governors’ heated pool offers even more liquid refreshment.

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 red and green chile posole at Del Charro Saloon is a life changer.
The red and green chile posole at Del Charro Saloon is a life changer.

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.

Broventure awaits in The City Different.
Broventure awaits in The City Different.

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Santa Fe Puts on a Perfect Fall Peep Show

The mountains above Santa Fe received their first snowy frosting on the first day of autumn, a timely reminder the leaves are about to treat us to their colorful autumnal appearance. Our city is renowned for its diverse visual arts, but Mother Nature herself manages to put on a pretty stunning exhibit at this time of year. With so much beauty nestled under the azure Santa Fe sky, it’s a good thing there’s more than one way to experience it.

Golden aspens give notice that autumn has come to Santa Fe.
Golden aspens give notice that autumn has come to Santa Fe.

Take the High Way

Looking up from the heart of downtown Santa Fe to see the 12,000-foot peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains turn bright gold is pleasant, but wouldn’t you like to get closer … lots closer? Catch this fleeting fall drama by taking an upper-level tour of the mountainside on the Ski Santa Fe scenic chair lift service. This bird’s eye view is mesmerizing, as aspens leaves shake and shimmer below in all their glimmering glory. It may even entice you lovers of winter to return for a visit when the hillsides are covered with fluffy white powder, especially since season passes are now on sale. Just be sure your camera is fully charged, because you’ll be snapping away non-stop from this heavenly height.

Lift your spirits with fall highlights at the Santa Fe Ski Basin.
Lift your spirits with fall highlights at the Santa Fe Ski Basin.

Pedal Power Puts You at the Leading Edge of Color

A quick getaway may preclude bringing your own beloved mountain bike, but Santa Fe’s bike buddy Mellow Velo can quickly fill the gap for avid pedal pushers. With a unique collection of high-end people-powered vehicles on hand, this well-established rental and service shop will spend time getting you outfitted appropriately and send you off the trail they think will best suit you. Yes, you can bring your own pedals for them to install! And it’s not only the mountainsides that change hue – the city has some mighty colorful cottonwoods (one of Georgia’s O’Keeffe’s favorite trees) turning yellow each fall, so taking a trip around the city by bike is also an admirable autumn option.

Take it to the top on two wheels with Mellow Velo.
Take it to the top on two wheels with Mellow Velo.

Feet, Don’t Fail Me Now

Santa Fe Baldy is the mountaintop we locals scan to see what the weather has in store for us. Baldy is a rather jocular way to refer to being above tree line — altitude 12,631 feet, in case you were wondering — but a sense of humor is always helpful on an upward-bound hike. Located 15 miles northeast of the city, Baldy is the last tall peak in New Mexico, as the mountains slowly lower on their way down through the state. The well-marked trail climbs to a saddle about 1,000 feet below the summit, and the remaining distance is a steep trek up along the ridgeline. The walk 7 miles up takes you through golden aspens and stands of stately Ponderosa pines, until you pass the tree line at about 700 feet below the peak. Just don’t forget it’s also 7 miles back down.

Your companions? Day Hikes in the Santa Fe Area, published by the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club, and the maps in the wonderful High Desert Field Guides. Both are available for purchase at Collected Works Books. Your reward? Seeing dazzling Lake Katherine under the spotless sky of New Mexico.

Take a moment to revel in the beauty of Lake Katherine before making your descent.
Take a moment to revel in the beauty of Lake Katherine before making your descent.

Driving Around on a Santa Fe Day

Not a hiker or biker? No problem. Take in the scenery from the cozy comfort of the car and park for a pretty picnic when your appetite bests the outlook. The High Road to Taos winds through the plateau west of the mountains, slowly rising until it pops out at the Truchas Peaks, named for the trout (truchas) that have fed northern New Mexicans over the years. Along the way, you’ll see scattered villages and clusters of old adobe homes, no doubt at this time of year with a wisp of pinon smoke drifting from the chimney. This scenic byway takes you through Chimayo, with its famed Santuario, the villages of Truchas and Las Trampas, Picuris Pueblo and finally on into Taos via Talpa and Ranchos de Taos. Return via the Low Road before the sun sets, and you’ll see vivid yellow stands of old cottonwoods casting color over the waters of the Rio Grande.

Trees glow as the river waters flow along the Low Road from Taos.
Trees glow as the river waters flow along the Low Road from Taos.

Curious to know what happens to the landscape long after a volcano explodes? Point your vehicle westward and visit the Valles Caldera National Preserve, a 13.7-mile wide crater created 1.5 million or so years ago. The massive scope of the Valles Caldera encompasses so much – archaeology, wildlife, history, geology – and autumn is a great time to see the grasslands turn gold and watch hawks soar overhead. Valles Caldera has miles of ranch roads, livestock and game trails, including a network of trails designated for horseback riding. The many outdoor activities are open to the public, but some require reservations, especially things like winter sleigh rides (definitely something to come back for).

Sometimes the Santa Fe wildlife is just as curious about us as we are about them.
Sometimes the Santa Fe wildlife is just as curious about us as we are about them.

Get Me a Guide Please

In such a pristine natural setting, you’d imagine there would be those who spend their lives out of doors, making their living doing it, and you’d be right. Having an experienced guide along to point out the things you might miss turns an autumn hike from interesting to incredible. The vast Pecos Wilderness encompasses almost a quarter-million acres to the east of Santa Fe, and that’s a lot of ground to cover on your own. The knowledgeable guides from Outspire figure it out for you with a 4-6 hour hike (don’t worry, lunch is factored in) through the mountains and valleys characteristic of this protected wilderness area spread across the Santa Fe and Carson National Forests.

Following the leader is a pleasure when the guiding is so good.
Following the leader is a pleasure when the guiding is so good.

A little closer to your home base of Santa Fe are the hiking trails of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, perched above the city on the way to the Santa Fe Ski Basin. Named by Catholic settlers) the mountains turn vibrant red and yellow at sunset, and the Sangres are a favorite destination for locals to fit in a hike that doesn’t consume an entire day. Santa Fe Walkabouts can get you out and hiking on a 4- or 5-mile roundtrip through the aspens as soon as you finish eating breakfast. These Santa Fe area hikes (and fun Pinzgauer tours) are always tailored to your ability, since Georges and Sue Mally want to leave their guests with magical memories, not sore knees.

Santa Fe Walkabouts will drive you up by Pinzgauer, but you’ll want to slow down for a walk in leafy beauty.
Santa Fe Walkabouts will drive you up by Pinzgauer, but you’ll want to slow down for a walk in leafy beauty.

Color Your Visit with Santa Fe’s Outdoor Hues

The sun shines over 300 days a year in Santa Fe, and autumn brings ideal weather for experiencing the crisp cool air and the bright blue skies of New Mexico. Lace up your shoes and pack a picnic, or let an outdoor specialist lay out an enticing plan for you, but make a visit to Mother Nature part of your visit to Santa Fe. She has so much to share, and it’s all waiting out there in the hills and valleys to enchant you.

 

All the Fall You Need in Santa Fe

It always feels like the year begins anew in autumn, even if logic tells me the year is winding toward its wintry season end. When Santa Fe’s fall leaves begin to show red and gold hues, we locals are called to the outdoors, knowing it won’t be long before sunsets sparkle over a frosty landscape. I definitely have a full fall agenda to complete before Old Man Winter arrives for his annual visit to the City Different.

Be Uplifted when You See Fall’s Foliage from Above

Santa Fe gets all dressed up in autumn colors when the aspens covering our Sangre de Cristo Mountains stage their annual show. We locals watch eagerly as the mountainside turns from green to gold, and we try to pick the perfect time to go up and bask in the resulting glow. But seeing the trees change their hue from down here on the plateau isn’t the only way to catch their fleeting fall drama. Ski Santa Fe turns the last holiday of summer into an outdoor happening, with live music and a beer garden hosted by Santa Fe Brewing Company on Labor Day weekend. Their scenic lift service begins September 7, with the Super Quad Chair Lift running daily through October 13 to give you a bird’s eye view of the mountaintop. And along the way, you lovers of winter will likely be enticed by thoughts of the same hillsides covered with fluffy white powder. Lift tickets will be on sale beginning Labor Day Weekend. 

Climb aboard for a trip down the golden line of aspens at the Santa Fe Ski Basin.

Santa Fe Welcomes Lords and Ladies

Prithee, wilt thou lend eyes and ears to the entertainments of yore? Yesteryear’s amusements will ensue when thee and thine head for the Renaissance Fair at El Rancho de las Golondrinas September 21-22. This annual funfest is full of color, music, and dramatic feats fit for the whole family. The Fair is a community event, which originated in 2007 as a fund-raising partnership with a local nonprofit. It brings out colorful locals dressed to the nines as their Medieval alter egos — thou mayest address me as Milady of Mischief. It’s gratifying to know that the proceeds benefit the continuing educational mission of Golondrinas itself, as well as the homeless outreach programs of The Interfaith Community Shelter. Look for Clan Tynker, Santa Fe’s favorite family of street performers, who will be on hand to amuse and amaze the crowd with juggling feats and some fire-eating derring-do!

It wouldn’t be a Renaissance Fair without a pirate or two.

Prime Your Palate for Global Flavors at the Wine + Chile Fiesta

The gorgeous setting of the Santa Fe Opera definitely provides many a summer delight, but it’s also the action-packed venue for one of Santa Fe’s fall signature events, when the Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta holds its Grand Tasting Event there September 28. And although it’s the Santa Fe apex of an appetite for wine, that event is just one among many. Vintners and chefs from around the world gather annually to pair the best of their vineyards and kitchens with the taste of our spicy world-renowned cuisine. Winemaker dinners, educational seminars, pairing suggestions, sipping, supping, it’s all here. There’s even a sommelier throw down — we sure love a challenge in this town, especially when food and wine are involved. 90 wineries join forces with 75 restaurants, creating a vintage and a flavor for every one of us. We locals will be cheek-by-jowl with our visitors scoping out both the new and the tried-and-true bottles to stock our wine cellars.

Pace your progress as you test your wine palate at the Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta.

Harvesting the Season’s Best

El Rancho de las Golondrinas just keeps ‘em coming, with the annual Harvest Fest coming hot on the heels of the Renaissance Fair. Lots to love when grapes are crushed by hand — oops, excuse me — by foot! Built in 1972 on a site with some original structures dating back to the 1700’s, Golondrinas brings the past vibrantly to life, harvesting some of the same bounteous produce found at the Santa Fe Farmers Market at this time of year. And this particularly popular community celebration mirrors all the autumn traditions of Territorial New Mexico, as chile ristras are strung and the smell of bread and fresh tortillas wafts out over the 200 acres of this living history museum. Go back in time with a visit to this historic ranch setting October 5-6, and you’ll go away with a vastly enriched understanding of the Santa Fe of today.

Chile ristras – the long strands of chile traditionally strung up to last all winter – decorate many Santa Fe porches.

Creativity Comes to Life on Canyon Road

Snaking along on the south side of the Santa Fe River, Canyon Road has been the heart of the arts for so many of the creative souls who pass through the City Different and decide to stay. You can see some of these colorful characters in action October 18-19, when the Canyon Road Association paints a picture of Santa Fe at the Sixth Annual Canyon Road Paint-out. The “plein air” technique, which is simply a French term for “in the open air,” gives the artists an opportunity to respond directly to ambient conditions and capture not only the visuals but also the sensations of the moment. And it won’t be just painters in the mix; there’ll be sculptors and jewelers and craft demonstrations and even an appearance of the high school marching band in a noontime parade. This comprehensive street side art exhibition turns Canyon Road into one big outdoor gallery, as paper, pens and paint become art before your eyes.

Art happens on the spot at the Canyon Road Paint-out.

Don’t Let Autumn in Santa Fe Escape Your Gaze

The months of September and October are my favorite time to travel anywhere, but it’s always hard for me to make vacation plans when I realize what I might be missing right here in my hometown. Whether it’s family fun, or fine wines and fine art that tickle your fancy, Santa Fe is a memorable autumn travel adventure.

Santa Fe Nature is All Around Us

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.

 

Pinz pride! Take a break to take it all in.

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.

Georges does the talking, you do the admiring and pedaling.

 

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.

Hiking in the green grass of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains is a wonderful way to begin or end your day in Santa Fe.

 

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.

 

Geocaching always brings out everyone’s inner adventurer.

 

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.