The Land of Enchantment – Northern New Mexico is home to 1,000-year-old Native American pueblos, the Spanish culture of the conquistadors, and contemporary artist colonies. All of this is set in a dramatic, high-desert environment. With altitudes ranging from 5,000 to 12,000 feet, the terrain is a mix of stunning red rock formations, mesas, valleys, mountain peaks, and wooded streams. The area’s vibrant, clear skies have drawn thousands of artists and nature lovers to settle here.
With Santa Fe as our home base, we will hike across various awe-inspiring terrain and visit Bandelier National Monument and Coronado State Monument, a historic site featuring the ruins of Kuaua Pueblo. We’ll also visit the Historic Heritage Site of Taos Pueblo, attend a traditional festival with native dances, and spend some time in highly regarded museums and art galleries. You’ll also have some free time to explore Santa Fe’s 400-year-old central plaza, which is only a short walk away. Each day ends with dinner at one of the region’s many excellent restaurants where we’ll enjoy a variety of scrumptious cuisines.
Price: 3,250 USD per person (double occupancy)
Welcome to Santa Fe, a truly magical town at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo mountains that is filled with history, a vibrant art-culture, amazing Southwestern cuisine, and of course a wonderful landscape for outdoor adventures.
Today we’ll have a walking tour of the city, including stops at the historic Plaza – the heart of Santa Fe since 1610, buzzing with galleries, boutiques, and restaurants – as well as Canyon Road, an art-lovers dream of endless studios and galleries. We’ll also explore the Barrio de Analco historic district, which is home to some of the oldest houses and the oldest church in the Continental United States. Finally, we’ll have a chance to take a guided tour of the intriguing Loretto Chapel, with its unique floating spiral staircase. You’ll have some time this afternoon to shop on your own or visit one of the many great museums in Santa Fe, such as the Palace of the Governors, the New Mexico History Museum, or the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. Tonight, we’ll meet for a delicious dinner of Spanish tapas.
This morning after breakfast, we’ll take about an hour and a half drive out to Ghost Ranch, a landscape of flat-topped mesas and red and yellow cliffs that are flooded in light. This was a favorite spot of Georgia O’Keeffe, and you will soon see why! At Ghost Ranch, the Kitchen Mesa hike awaits us – a 4.5 mile hike that is mostly flat, but has some short steep sections. We’ll stop for a picnic lunch at the top of the mesa to celebrate our climb and take in the view. When we return to Santa Fe, we’ll have some time to rest and get ready for a Mexican feast.
Today, after breakfast, we’ll head out to Bandelier National Monument, about an hour drive from town, which protects over 33,000 acres of canyon and mesa country, and is home to Ancestral Pueblo ruins. Among the ruins found in Bandelier are multi-level dwellings built into rock, ceremonial structures, rock paintings, and petroglyphs. There is also a variety of wild animals that have made Bandelier their home, including deer, elk, and the distinctive Albert’s Squirrels, with their tufted ears. There’s a great variety of trails to choose from at Bandelier, which will allow us to sample what the region has to offer. After our hike, we’ll savor some New Mexican fare for dinner before heading back to Santa Fe.
This morning we will make our way to Taos Pueblo and step back in time, as we explore the multi-storied adobe houses that have been continuously inhabited for 1,000 years. These adobe houses look today much as they did when the Spanish arrived in the area in 1540, and believed they had found their “Cities of Gold.” Taos Pueblo is filled with handcrafted pottery, paintings, sculpture and other arts and crafts, many of which are made by families of artisans who have perfected their work over the course of generations. We’ll have plenty of time to explore the area and have lunch as a group, and then we’ll return to Santa Fe for relaxation and dinner on your own.
This morning we’ll start our day with a hike to Picacho Peak (about 4 miles, 1200', 3 hours), and have a chance to marvel at the best panoramic views of the area. Next we’ll head to Museum Hill, which boasts four world-class museums: Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, Museum of International Folk Art, Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, and Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian. After a full day immersed in the native landscape and culture, we’ll head back to Santa Fe for dinner together.
This morning we’ll take a drive to Coronado State Monument, which is a very special site for Pueblo ruins indeed – it offers a rare opportunity to see the painted inner walls of a kiva (or ceremonial chamber). Archaeologists uncovered this sacred spot in the 1930s, which is now held to be the finest example of “pre-contact” mural art in the United States. Next, we’ll head to Santa Ana Pueblo to experience the ceremonial corn dance, handed down for centuries to bind the community, honor ancestors, and give thanks to the resources nature has bestowed over the course of the year. We’ll enjoy another tasty dinner together back in town before turning in.
This morning we’ll drive to Tent Rocks National Monument, named after the cone shaped rock formations there, and hike the Loop and Canyon trails (3.5 miles, 675', 3 hours) as we admire the unusual topography. Next we’ll head to La Cieneguilla Petroglyph Site, which is filled with native rock-art that dates back to pre-Columbian times. This is a rare opportunity to get up close to the artwork, and see the etchings of interesting bird figures, hunters, and ancient flute players. Tonight we will celebrate our trip’s end with a New Mexican feast and – as is fitting -- margaritas! Sleep in Santa Fe.
Today we say our goodbyes and catch our flights home.