And now, something different
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Neil Wiley

Here is a different sort of hike that takes you through a walkable city, perfect for strolling alone or with a tour. Santa Fe showers you with Native American, Spanish, Mexican, and ultra-modern art, architecture, foods, histories, music, and culture. In a half-mile you can visit over 100 cultural and artistic destinations, with plenty of stops along the way for food and refreshments.

Don’t worry about the weather. The forecast is sunny 320 days a year. When I was there at the end of June, the average daily temperature was 75 degrees F, but summer temperatures can be as high as 90 degrees in the afternoon, and down to 60 degrees at night. The humidity often drops to 20 percent.

The only catch is that you are walking at over 7,000 feet in altitude. No wonder they sell oxygen along the street. Most of us will adjust in a few days, but don’t work too hard or drink too much. After all, you are on a vacation.
Yes, it is “touristy,” but that is a good thing, because just about everyone who works there is working for tourists. Their job is to make you happy.

The city is a wonderful place for street and scenic photography. You can walk to galleries, restaurants, and some of the museums. While in Santa e, I visited the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in town. Later, we drove a short way to Museum Hill, the center for four museums: Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, Museum of International Folk Art, and the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian.

A short drive out of town also provides great scenery for nature hikes, biking, river-rafting, horseback riding, and tours of Native American pueblos. Although I didn’t have time for a traditional hike, I learned about some trails for the future.

The Aspen Vista Trail has a nice option. You can walk twelve miles to the radar towers on the 12,035 summit of Tesuque Peak, or turn around at a high alpine meadow at about 4.5 miles. To find the trailhead, take Artists Road to Hyde Park Road, and follow state route 475 to the Aspen Vista Area.

The 9,321-foot-high Atalaya Mountain offers hikers and bikers nice views of Santa Fe and the Sangre de Christo Mountains. Follow the Old Santa Fe Trail to the signs for St. John’s College. Turn left on Camino del Monte Sol, right on Camino de Blanco, and right at the St. John’s entrance. In about half a mile, park at one of two small parking lots. Walk through the gate. Proceed about 1/5 of a mile, and then walk up the steps on the left for Trail #174. The hike is a 4.5-mile round trip.

If you don’t want to drive far, the Dale Ball Trail System offers 22 miles of trails just above Santa Fe. Take Artist Road and Hyde Park Road 2.6 miles to Sierra del Norte. A map in the parking lot and well-marked trail intersections keep you on track.

Other notable trails are the 25 miles of the La Tierra Trails northwest of Santa Fe, and the Winsor Trail between the Santa Fe Ski Basin and the village of Tesuque.

Want less walking and more learning? Attend classes, workshops, and demonstrations in arts, crafts, winemaking (and drinking), cooking, and history.

What about a few days in a world-class spa, with natural mineral hot springs, meditation, or well-deserved pampering?

I’ve saved dessert for last. For a new experience, I recommend Santa Fe’s Meow Wolf. You’ll see art in all its dimensions. It’s a show with many walls but no curtain. If you bring your curiosity and an open mind, I think you’ll enjoy it. My sister and daughter did. So did I, but my brother didn’t. You can buy tickets online.

Enjoy a different experience. Visit Santa Fe. Flights are available through Phoenix to Santa Fe on United Airlines, or via an easy one-hour drive 65 miles from Albuquerque.