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Northern New Mexico Outdoors

Storm over mesa.



General Ideas

Here are some ideas to get you out into the “Land of Enchantment.” If you are interested in day hiking, the local group of the Sierra Club publishes “Day Hikes in the Santa Fe Area,” readily available in the local bookstores and outings stores.  All trailheads listed are no more than a couple of hours’ drive from Santa Fe, and the hikes range from easy to very strenuous. We will be glad to lend you a copy if you are staying with us. If you are interested in some activity we don’t have listed here, give us a call or an e-mail, and we will try and connect you with local information.


Check on the typical high and low temperatures: Santa Fe Monthly Averages


General Interest


Indian Arts and Culture Tours

Upcoming Events  The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology in Santa Fe offers one day and overnight tours to various sites of archaeological and cultural interest.

Santa Fe Trail New Mexico Scenic Byway

Highways follow a great deal of the Santa Fe Trail in New Mexico. The website shows routes, and links to information about history, museums, archaeology, and other topics of interest along the way.



Take advantage of New Mexico's wonderful night skies by participating in a viewing with Astromony Adventures. Our recent guests raved about how spectacular the viewing was through the professional-level telescopes, and about the knowledgeable and informative host.


Take a virtual geologic tour of New Mexico Federal Parks, Monuments, Wildlife Refuges and Angel Peak National Recreation Area.


Local Hiking Trails
Sangre de Cristo Mountainworks is no longer in business, but their website is still active.  The website above shows pictures and gives descriptions of popular nearby hiking trails, including some suitable for mountain biking.
In the fall, the Santa Fe Ski Basin runs the chair lift to take you to the top of the ridge for aspen viewing. You can buy a round-trip ticket, or a one-way (up) to walk or bike back down.

The Cerrillos Hills State Park is about 16 miles southwest of Santa Fe.   Several miles of trails wind through these gentle hills, the site of turquoise mining for over a thousand years.   Because the park is at a lower elevation than Santa Fe, it makes a good destination when snow chases hikers out of the high country.   Because of its location, there are wonderful views of the Sandias, Ortiz, Jemez, and Sangre de Cristo mountain ranges.

Northern New Mexico Group - Sierra Club
The web page for the local group of the Sierra Club has links to pictures and descriptions of a number of local hikes. You can also click on their "Outings" link at the top of the page to find out what weekend hikes are planned. These are open to the general public at no charge, and give you a chance to hike with experienced local leaders.

New Mexico Public Lands
Click on the state of New Mexico, and you will be linked to a page where you can search within particular geographic areas (we are considered “North Central”) for information about all manner of activities possible on our New Mexico public lands.



The Randall Davey Audubon Center 

Randall Davey Audubon Center Sanctuary

In the Santa Fe River canyon, just east of the city, the center abuts the protected Santa Fe River watershed, and is a buffer between the city and the wilderness. Around 130 bird species have been sighted on the Center grounds! There are hiking trails and a small gift shop, and people who would love to talk with you about New Mexico birds. The website has a good write-up of the area and bird, plant, and mammal lists.

Nearby Parks and Monuments

Hyde Park
Eight miles from Santa Fe, up the ski basin road, 350 acre Hyde park offers a chance to get into the cooler, damper Canadian life zone. People go to picnic, hike, hunt mushrooms, birdwatch and just hang out in spring, summer, and fall. In winter, there is a sledding hill much frequented by local children. For a good general description of the area, check out the Audubon Society page at
Cerrillos Hills Historic Park is part of the Santa Fe County Open Space and Trails system. Long a source of turquoise for Native Americans and others, the park offers hiking and biking trails, as well a glimpse into mining history.  Because of its location near La Bajada, there are spectacular views of the Sandia, Ortiz, Jemez, and Sangre de Cristo mountain ranges, as well as a glimpse of distant Mount Taylor.


Bandelier is near Los Alamos, about a 45 minute scenic drive from here. Because it is a lower elevation than Santa Fe, it gives a good opportunity for hiking when early spring or late fall conditions can be a little dicey in the mountains. The paved interpretive trail takes you alongside of early pueblo dwellings that are carved into the tufa cliffs, an unusual architectural solution to heating and cooling. The park headquarters houses an interpretive museum and a small cafe, and other buildings house staff. The structures are from the CCC era, and are constructed largely of local rock.   Although the Las Conchas fire of 2011 burned through around 60 per cent of the park, the visitor center has reopened, and the cliff dwelling trail and backcountry trails are open.  See the website or call 505-672-3861 for more information.

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument


Kasha-Katuwe (quoting from the Wilderness Wilderness Society)
 . . . is a remarkable outdoor laboratory, offering an opportunity to observe, study, and experience the geologic processes that shape natural landscapes, as well as other cultural and biological objects of interest. The area is rich in pumice, ash, and tuff deposits, the light-colored, cone-shaped tent rock formations that are the products of explosive volcanic eruptions that occurred between 6 and 7 million years ago. Small canyons lead inward from cliff faces, and over time, wind and water have scooped openings of all shapes and sizes in the rocks and have contoured the ends of the ravines and canyons into smooth semicircles. In these canyons, erosion-resistant caprocks protect the softer tents below. While the formations are uniform in shape, they vary in height from a few feet to 90 feet, and the layering of volcanic material intersperses bands of grey with beige-colored rock.

Pecos National Historical Park

An easy drive on Interstate 25, approximately 25 miles east of Santa Fe. To quote from the webpage:
Pecos preserves 12,000 years of history including the ancient pueblo of Pecos, Colonial Missions, Santa Fe Trail sites, 20th century ranch history of Forked Lightning Ranch, and the site of the Civil War Battle of Glorieta Pass.

Petroglyph National Monument
Situated across from Albuquerque, on the west side of the Rio Grande, this 17 mile long area encompasses volcanic and cultural features. The area, which is still held as sacred by the local pueblo people, is covered with an estimated 25,000 petroglyphs carved by the early inhabitants and by the Spanish explorers.

Valles Caldera National Preserve
Those pretty pink, yellow and grey volcanic rock layers you see in Bandelier and other parts of northern New Mexico most likely came about when a mountain, to the west of present-day Los Alamos, blew it’s top and created the 89,000 acre caldera. Federal legislation enabling the purchase of what was then known as “the Baca ranch” included the requirement that it be managed in a financially sustainable manner by a nine-member trust appointed by the President. The trust is required to figure out how to make the Preserve financially self-sustaining while allowing public recreation and protecting the area’s natural and historical resources. This grand experiment is still in progress, but you can check the website to see what public activities are currently allowed.   The Las Conchas fire in the summer of 2011 burned sections of the Valles Caldera, causing a temporary closure to the public, but has reopened.

Overview of New Mexico Monuments

New Mexico has six State Monuments, two are near Santa Fe.  Coronado State Monument is between Santa Fe and Albuquerque.  It has some remarkable paintings carefully removed layer by layer from kivas.  Jemez State Monument includes the ruins of an approximately 700 year old pueblo, and of a church and convent constructed in the 1600s by forced labor.  "The visitor center contains exhibits interpreting historic events from the perspective of the Jémez people."

Nearby Wilderness Areas
Go to the site above for connections to information about our two closest wilderness areas.
The nearest access to the Pecos Wilderness is sixteen miles away at the Santa Fe Ski Basin, where a quarter mile walk takes you to the wilderness gate. From there you can go on to visit Nambé Creek (2 miles one way) or challenge yourself to top Santa Fe Baldy (about 5 more miles, and where we got married!), to visit Lake Katherine (5.25 miles beyond Nambé Creek, over a pass), or various other byways.

A brief write-up about trails in the Dome Wilderness (adjacent to Bandelier National Monument) can be found at

We are blessed with a lot of powdery snow in northern New Mexico. The Santa Fe Ski Basin is only 16 miles away, and has beginner through advanced runs. With a 12,075 foot summit, it offers 1,725 vertical feet of skiing.

Pajarito Mountain Ski Area is just west of Los Alamos. It is not open as many days a week as the Santa Fe Ski Basin, and the runs are shorter (a summit at 10,440 and about1,200 ft vertical), but there are plenty of advanced runs and stunning views across to the Sangre de Cristo mountains.


Your hosts, enjoying the results of an X-C skiing outing in the Cumbres Pass,CO area.



Biking within Santa Fe is on a mixed menu of multi-use trails, bike lanes, and roads shared with motor vehicles, which may or may not be marked to encourage sharing.  A reasonably up-to-date map may be found at Bike Routes  You can check out the 16 mile trek which begins in Santa Fe and travels to Lamy along the railroad spur track, mostly rolling hills over a dirt track that runs along the railroad spur.


Road Biking Tours in northern New Mexico can be found described at


Mountain Biking -- of course, many of our higher mountain trails may have snow or muddy conditions until mid summer.  But there are plenty of lower elevation options, many are described at


Rio Chama


The length and intensity of the rafting season is highly variable, as it depends mainly on how much snow melt comes down from the southern Colorado mountains. The “Taos Box” on the Rio Grande is a classic 17 mile class IV whitewater run, with a three-mile section of nearly continuous rapids. On the other hand, the Chama River wilderness run is a Class II-III trip through stunning “Georgia O’Keeffe” country. Some trips are available only by winning a lottery, if you are a private boater. However, there are many outfitters with whom you can book a trip. Two companies, run by old friends of ours, are Far Flung and Los Rios. We can vouch that we would (and have) put our lives in their hands on a river.



Road Conditions - for current conditions call 1-800-432-4269, or visit the New Mexico Department of Transportation at  When in New Mexico, you can also access the road conditions hotline by dialing 511.

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