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.

 

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.

 

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.

Ignite Your Competitive Spirit with Santa Fe’s Gorgeous Sport Adventures

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.

The view from Atalaya Mountain (Source: im me, flickr.com)

Mountain Biking

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.

Good but not-so-clean fun at the Gladiator Dash Credit: ultimategladiatordash.com

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.

Golf

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.

The Fuego

Pitcher Rod Tafoya brings the heat for the Santa Fe Fuego (Credit: Scott Sacker,
flickr.com)

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 – Spring Must Do’s

Make the Most of Your Post–Hibernation this Spring in Santa Fe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abandon your cozy seat by the fire and finish up your gourmet hot chocolate, because spring has arrived in the City Different! It’s time to go out, get active, and explore more of what makes Santa Fe so magical. Let the city’s creative spirit awaken yours from hibernation and explore the rich traditions of Santa Fe’s many cultures. Here are some ways to make the most out of a springtime trip to this wondrous and surprising city.

DIY Month

At a modest size of 37.4 square miles, and internationally recognized as a premier art market, Santa Fe packs in more creativity per square foot than anywhere else in the country. Get inspired by more than 250 art galleries, museums, and centers, and five art schools.

You’ll need those creative juices flowing as Santa Fe celebrates DIY Month in March, a creative tourism journey that gives you the chance to spend all or part of a trip taking workshops from experienced artists and artisans. It’s okay if you’re not an O’Keeffe. Classes cater to all artistic explorers, from beginners to aficionados. Fulfill a dream, refine a skill, or fall into something completely different. Want to tap into your inner artist? Take an expressive painting workshop with artist Cathy Carey. In this five-day class, limited to a small enrollment, you’ll learn techniques to loosen up your drawing and painting, capturing the feeling and fluid movement of Matisse and Van Gogh, and build a new connection to your work.

The Land and Light photography workshop teaches you the skills you’ll need to capture the majesty of Santa Fe with a lens. Walk this enchanted land with photographer Craig Varjabedian, photographing unique environments in an atmosphere of adventure and discovery. It’s a great way to explore the diverse culture, architecture, and landscape of northern New Mexico while upping your shutterbug game.

Personally, I can’t wait for the Glass Ristra workshop, a luxurious creative workshop brought to you by Bridges to Santa Fe. Held in a gorgeous home gallery, you assemble your own red, green, or Christmas glass ristra, while dining on red and green chile appetizers served on artisan-rendered glass platters.

That’s just a small sampling of the exciting do-it-yourself offerings. Transforming photographs with beeswax, traditional tinwork, Japanese papermaking, spinning wool, and many more possibilities await.

Bead Fest Santa Fe

Align the do-it-yourself spirit with do-it-for-yourself results at Bead Fest Santa Fe. Perfectly suited for both jewelry making novices and experts, Bead Fest is four days of discovering the latest techniques, tools, and tips. Take one of the 95 different workshops offered by jewelry artists from around the country, or shop at more than 150 booths and tables with everything you need to craft your own amazing creations. I’ll be going to behold the beautiful work on display, and, just maybe, end up with an amazing piece of my own design.

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet

Photo: Rosalie O’Connor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After all that making and creating, make sure you’re getting a balanced cultural intake. Along with the visual arts, Santa Fe is also a vibrant city of the performing arts. At the end of March, you can catch the dual-city Aspen Santa Fe Ballet as they return home for a program featuring Jiri Kylián’s poignant Return to a Strange Land, Alejandro Cerrudo’s striking new ballet Last, and Trey McIntyre’s seductive Like a Samba. Not sure if ballet is for you? Give this group a chance. Just don’t be surprised if you spend the entire performance at the edge of your seat. I asked ASFB’s director of marketing Jennica Lundin about the upcoming shows. “It’s not traditional ballet but way more contemporary,” said Jessica. She also told me that two of the three pieces would be performed on pointe, where the dancers perform entirely on their tiptoes. “Performing on pointe shows that our dancers’ technique is rooted in classical style.”

Santa Fe Japanese Cultural Festival

Go from nimble dancers to nimble swordsmen at the sixth Santa Fe Japanese Cultural Festival. Nothing feeds creativity like knowledge and experience, and I can’t think of a more exciting mental meal than a large serving of Samurai culture. Witness master swordsmen demonstrating their skills, Taiko drumming from Grammy winner Koji Nakamura, and a Grand Samurai Performance from Japan’s Nobuyuki Sato. You can also feast on Japanese food (yum), enjoy workshops (this city is workshop crazy), a silent auction, and – you guessed it – arts and crafts. It wouldn’t be a Santa Fe event if it didn’t involve creating something.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Santa Fe in Bloom

All of this culture can wear a person out. Make sure you leave yourself some time to enjoy and relax in Santa Fe’s natural beauty. Spring is a time when the outdoor world of Santa Fe turns into a collage of blooming plants. Why not try out some of those newly acquired photography skills on the blooming Aspens, tulips, poppies, and more. If you want a peek at some gorgeous gardens, the Santa Fe Garden Club is offering Pequeno Tours, private tours of some of Santa Fe’s finest homes and gardens. The Pequeno Tours start in mid-April and with spring temperatures in the 50s and 60s and plenty of sunshine, being outside in the fresh air of Santa Fe — named cleanest in the country by the American Lung Association — just feels great.

Start your Creative Season

Spring in Santa Fe is truly an inspiring time. Whether you want to jumpstart your own artistic renaissance or just recharge, there’s more than enough to wake your sense of adventure from its winter slumber. With all the opportunities to create and explore, there’s no time like spring to experience all the creative energy, diverse culture, and natural beauty that Santa Fe has to offer.

Romantic Guide to Santa Fe

Couple exploring Downtown Santa Fe

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 Livability dubbed it one of the Top 10 Romantic Cities in America. Below is my insider’s guide to a romantic stay in Santa Fe.

 

Chocolate elixir from Kakawa Chocolate House
Photo courtesy of Food Network TV

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.

Estrella del Norte Vineyard

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.

Enjoying the serenity of the Santa Fe wilderness
Photo Courtesy of Homes.com

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.

Spectacular sunset from La Fonda Bell Tower

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.

Indulging in a romantic dinner

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.

 

Valentine’s Day & Annual Romantic Events

At the Artist Table

WHEN: February 14, 2013 from 6 – 9 pm

Looking for a truly memorable way to celebrate Valentine’s Day? “At the Artist Table” presents an intimate evening of fine art and cuisine.

Moonstruck at the Lensic Performing Arts Center

WHEN: February 14, 2013 at 7 pm

Join us for a Valentine’s Day screening of this romantic comedy, released in 1987 starring Cher and Nicholas Cage.

ARTfeast

WHEN: February 22-24, 2013

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.

Santa Fe Restaurant Week

WHEN: February 24–March 3, 2013

Feast on delicious, three-course meals at a fraction of the cost. Dinners will be priced at $25 for two for casual-dining restaurants, or $20, $30 or $40 per person, depending on the restaurant.

 Aspen Santa Fe Ballet

WHEN: March 29-30, 2013

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.

First Friday Art Walks

WHEN: First Friday of the Month

Join the West Palace Arts District Galleries every month on the First Friday for a variety of openings and exhibitions. Hours for events are usually from 5 to 7:30 pm.

Last Friday Art Walk at the Railyard Galleries

WHEN: Last Friday of the Month

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.

Santa Fe Opera Festival Season

WHEN: June 28 – August 24, 2013

The repertory includes a world premiere, the first Santa Fe performances of another brilliant opera by Rossini, the return of a comic opera by Jacques Offenbach, and two popular revivals.

By Gabe Trujillo 2/14/13