Get Out in Santa Fe

'We live in a magnificent part of the country and there are limitless ways to enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors in Santa Fe'

Date April 8, 2013 at 12:35 PM

Publication SantaFe.com

Categories Community Entertainment & Nightlife Outdoors & Recreation

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Here in Santa Fe, we're lucky to have the great outdoors as our backyard. Drive just minutes from downtown in any direction and you'll find dramatic hiking trails in the foothills of the Rockies, prehistoric Indian ruins, historic mining towns, ghost towns and more.

Yes, Santa Fe is acclaimed for its dining, shopping, lodging, visual art, performing arts and more, but much of the magic of this former outpost of the Spanish kingdom lies in its majestic surroundings of mountain vistas, azure skies and brilliant light. We've also got the best air quality in the country, according to the American Lung Association, and one of the best running trails in the U.S., as rated by Mother Earth Network.

We live in a magnificent part of the country and there are limitless ways to enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors in Santa Fe. Here's a list of our favorites.

Hiking

Everyone knows the joys of hiking the trail system up by Ski Santa Fe, where you'll find mountain lakes, gorgeous vistas and great wildlife viewing. But lesser-known trails offer equally thrilling scenic adventures, including the Atalya trail near St. John's College, which offers a great way to work out as you climb to the top for breathtaking views of the city below. This is the perfect place for a picnic and a rest before climbing back down again. For a shorter hike, try the trails leading up nearby Sun and Moon mountains, or  Sol and Luna, which begin behind St. John's College off of Camino Monte del Sol.

Outside of town, off of Buckman Road, you'll find Diablo Canyon, a dry and dusty place full of caves, trails and even a place to dip into the Rio Grande. Relatively unknown to many residents, Diablo Canyon is an otherworldly experience, where you can get lost surrounded by rock walls, cliffs and eerie spires. It's aptly named, but it's a rewarding place to explore.  Click here for more info.

Just a short drive east from Santa Fe, the Pecos National Historical Park offers a fascinating glimpse into the past. Stop at the visitor's center and watch the film narrated by Academy Award-winning actress Greer Garson about the ancient pueblo that once flourished here. Then explore the ruins as you wander the area, visiting a mission church and the ancient quarters for some of the pueblo residents and daily activities. For more info, visit Pecos National Historical Park.

Biking

Santa Fe has embraced bicyclists, installing bike lanes around the city as well as hosting the annual Santa Fe Century, a bike ride held every Mary through historic country that starts and ends in Santa Fe. This year's 28th Santa Fe Century takes place Sunday, May 19. Click here for more info.  

There are also plenty of places for mountain biking, including challenging trails in the Sangre de Cristos and other trails around the city.  The Dale Ball Trail System offers 22 miles of trails great for bicyclists. You can also ride out of town and into country with scenic vistas and relatively flat roads. Click here for more info.

Rafting

Ride the Rio Grande, through scenic white-water chutes and on serene floats, through historic wilderness. Several rafting companies offer an array of rides along the Rio Grande, ranging from easy floats to the dangerous waters of the Taos Box.  You can also ride the waters of the Rio Chama, located about an hour's drive north of Santa Fe and designated by Congress as one of America's Wild and Scenic Rivers. Check out Santa Fe Rafting Co. and Santa Fe Mountain Adventures to book a trip.

Horseback Riding

There's nothing like seeing Santa Fe's majestic wilderness from horseback. You can take an easy ride and meander through mountain scenery, or a more challenging ride up steep trails for amazing views. Several outfitters offer guided trail rides, including the Bishop's Lodge Ranch Resort and Spa and the Broken Saddle Riding Co. out in Cerrillos.

Trekking with Animals

If you're up for an unusual adventure, head out on a day hike accompanied by llamas. These wooly, friendly animals will carry your gear and food as you hike some of the most beautiful trails in the country. Stop to savor a gourmet lunch, or take a multi-day trek into pristine Santa Fe wilderness. 

You could also take a guided day hike along mountain trails with the company of packgoats, stopping for a picnic lunch of locally produced foods.   

Hang Gliding

Have you ever hankered to hang out of the sky in a hang glider? You can do it, right here in Santa Fe, either on "bunny" hills for introductory lessons or on a  high-altitude hang glide lesson. Sign up for a lesson with Santa Fe Hang Gliding and enjoy an unforgettable experience soaring the turquoise skies of Santa Fe. Click here for details.

Running

If you're into running, The Dale Ball Trails, more than 22 miles of looped running and mountain biking trails, is one of the seven best running trails in the country, according to Mother Nature Network.  Check it out here.

Astronomy Adventures

Look up into the skies with a high-tech telescope and you'll see nebulae, supernova star clusters and more with Astronomy Adventures' guided tours, chosen as an Editors Pick of Sunset Magazine. Click here for more info.

Birding

The Randall Davey Audubon Center & Sanctuary is an ideal spot for bird watching, with 190 species found in the ecosystems of this sanctuary, both common and rare. 

The site is surrounded by thousands of acres of the Santa Fe River Watershed and National Forest. Take a guided bird walk at 8 a.m. on Saturdays or a docent-led tour of the historic Randall Davey House, where you can view paintings by Davey, a member of the Santa Fe Art Colony. Tours are held Fridays at 2 p.m. Click here for more info.  

Golf

Golf in the high desert may seem like an oxymoron, but Santa Fe has nearly a dozen golf courses, including a few signature Nicklaus golf courses. From luxury hotel resorts to municipal courses, Santa Fe offers a range of courses with a mix of high desert, open links and mountain courses. Check out the list of golf courses.

Fishing

The Santa Fe area offers some of the best fishing in the West, with rivers, streams and lakes stocked with both warm-water and old-water fish. Try your hand at flyfishing in pristine wilderness or enjoy a family experience at established fishing areas. Click here for details.

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