The 4-Hour Rule: Santa Fe

Iconic singletrack, volcano hikes and puppies. Let’s review.

By Diane Rommel

This Desert Getaway Is Basically NorCal’s Spiritual Opposite
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27 September 2018

Iconic singletrack, volcano hikes and puppies. Let’s review.

A man can only take so many ponderously beautiful redwood groves perched above the thunderous Pacific surf.

Sometimes, a change of pace is required. Ideally one with clean mountain air (at over 7,000 feet), hundreds of miles of hiking and biking paths, puppies, petroglyphs, and volcanic cinder cones. Plus enchiladas. And margaritas.

Since 1821, that trail has led intrepid vacationers to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Who are we to turn our back on precedent?

BASICS
If you can, fly straight into the marvelously miniature Santa Fe Regional Airport — it’s like flying private, only you’re actually on United, and the café, opened around outgoing flights, is surprisingly good. (You can also find lenty of round-trips from SFO for under $200.) If you do fly into Albuquerque, the Sandia Shuttle offers frequent if expensive connections to hotels in Santa Fe; the Rail Runner Express is a scenic train option. And if you overnight in Albuquerque — maybe to take in one of the Breaking Bad tours — stay at El Vado, the highly rated and newly reopened motel.

Stay (2 images)

WHERE TO STAY
Sunrise Springs regularly appears on the lists of best American resorts — not least for a wide range of activities that include sunrise desert hikes and actually playing with puppies. Offered in partnership with Assistance Dogs of the West, it’s therapy for you, and good training for them as they achieve their goals of becoming service dogs. Opt for one of the casitas, done up in modern-desert décor and offering king-size beds and gas fireplaces.

WHAT TO EAT
First stop: enchiladas and margaritas at The Shed, one of those rare spots beloved both by locals and camera-wielding tourists. Santa Fe allegedly has the highest number of galleries per capita in the U.S. (this is a fact gleefully shared by Santa Fe gallerists) and you’ll see a good number of them on the walk down Canyon Road for tapas at El Farol — just plan in advance, since doors close at 9.

WHAT TO DO (OPTION A)
Hiking abounds. Don’t have a car? Summon your ride-share of choice for a trip to St. John’s College on the city’s western edge; the six-mile out-and-back trail to the summit of Atalaya Mountain leaves from the school’s parking lot and offers solid data coverage. Otherwise, head to Petroglyph National Monument for trails that take in not just the titular, centuries-old illustrations but volcanic cinder cones as well.

Image: Joe Palese

Option B (2 images)

WHAT TO DO (OPTION B)
You’ll run out of vacation days before you run out of New Mexico singletrack, but you can start with the iconic South Boundary Trail: 22 miles at over 10,000 feet between Taos and Angel Fire. The trail runs along the edges of Carson National Forest, with just enough technical riding at the end to keep things lively. Consider organizing a shuttle through Turquoise Tours, which will also provide updates on trail conditions.

Main image via Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket/Getty

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