Outdoor Guide to Santa Fe

There are two types of people: those who prefer the indoors, and those who love to explore all that nature has to offer. When planning a road trip or vacation, it’s important to identify which type of person you are (and/or whoever you’re traveling with) to make sure you fully enjoy the activities you sign up for. 

While Santa Fe is plentiful when it comes to indoor activities (such as the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum), there is no competition when it comes to all that it has to offer for outdoor adventurers.

Outdoor guide to Santa Fe

What is Santa Fe’s Climate Like?

For the outdoor enthusiast, Santa Fe’s climate can’t be beaten. You can enjoy all four seasons and generally 300+ days of sunshine, so there’s almost no bad time to visit! Due to its elevation (ranging from 7,000 above sea level to 12,000 at its mountain vistas) the air is incredibly pure and crisp as well. 

For those who want to avoid extremely hot summers, Santa Fe typically reaches between 85-90s in the peak summer months with minimal humidity, making it a dry – yet tolerable – season.

Best Outdoor Activities in Santa Fe

There is truly something for everyone in Santa Fe – whether you want to remain outdoors or explore some indoor hidden gems. However, visitors to Santa Fe will have endless choices of activities to do that can showcase the area’s beautiful scenery. Be sure to check whether admittance to certain areas or engaging in certain activities will require a recreation pass/permit – if so, you can get one here

Biking

Santa Fe is an extremely cycling-friendly town, with plenty of roads that safely accommodate bikers. In fact, it is rated as a Top Mountain Bike Towns in America by USA Today.

No matter your skill level, Santa Fe has tons of different trail and terrain options for cyclers. Before you visit, be sure to check out a comprehensive Santa Fe Bikeways and Trails map to plan out your trip! 

Family riding on the bike trail

Here are a few of the most popular riding trails to check out:

Be sure to check the terrain of your desired trail to ensure whether your bike is equipped for that type of terrain. For example, the Pajarito Mountain Trail can be a very difficult downward trail that is only suitable for mountain bikes; however, you are able to rent one for your ride if you need it!

Fishing

Truly a fisherman’s paradise, Santa Fe offers seemingly endless options for fishing in its 1,000 miles of streams and 20+ lakes and ponds. Depending on your experience level, you can take a chartered trip with a guide or embark on backpack fly fishing solo! 

Santa Fe’s unique climate offers both cold-water and warm-water fish, so you can really tailor your trip to whatever type of fishing you prefer. For example, Cowles Ponds Fishing Site is around 20 miles north of Pecos and has both lake/pond fishing as well as river/stream fishing. 

Be sure to check out some of these other highly-recommended fishing spots in Santa Fe:

Hiking

There is no shortage of hiking opportunities around the Santa Fe area, and encompass a wide range of difficulty to accommodate all sorts of outdoor explorers. Most of these hiking trails allow leashed dogs to accompany you, and many easy hiking trails are kid-friendly!

If this is your first time hiking, it is highly advised to read up on the activity so that you can ensure your (and others’) safety! For now, here are a couple of tips to keep in mind when embarking on a trail in Santa Fe:

people hiking

Share The Trail!

Keep in mind that many of these hiking trails are also shared by mountain bikers and equestrians, so you need to stay alert for the duration of your hike. 

Make Yourself Visible

It is advised to display a bright object or wear bright apparel to be visible to other larger and more faster-moving visitors. This can also be helpful for others to find you in the event you get lost or injured.

Don’t Take Shortcuts

Similarly, one of the more important rules of hiking is to stay on the designated trails and to not deviate off of marked paths. This is not only to prevent you from getting lost, but to also avoid disturbing the wilderness and/or causing dangerous erosion.

Take Valuables With You

Avoid leaving valuables in your vehicle at the trailhead; unfortunately, many people take advantage of the fact that hikers are generally gone for more than a couple of hours to burgle their cars with less risk of getting caught. 

Share Your Itinerary With a Friend

Even if you are going with a group, it’s a good idea to send your itinerary to someone who is not accompanying you on your trip. Similarly, it’s wise to let them know when you are embarking on your trail

Stay Hydrated & Fed

This should come as no surprise, but it is incredibly important to bring enough water and food to keep you sated for the duration of your hike. 

How to Find a Hiking Trail in Santa Fe?

There are so many hiking trails in the area that you should have no issue finding one that suits your needs. AllTrails is a fantastic resource for hikers to discover new trails and find out more information about ones they’re interested in exploring. Have fun researching the 140+ hiking trails in Santa Fe in search of your next adventure!

Santa Fe Picnic Spots

Since the weather is so gorgeous, visitors should strive to eat outdoors at least once. If not at a restaurant that offers patio dining, a private picnic can do the trick as well. There are a few designated picnic spots in Santa Fe as well as some places that will provide you with a curated picnic basket to take with you – you simply have to choose what type of picnicking experience you want! 

picnic

When picnicking, it’s important to follow the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace – a guideline created by the Center for Outdoor Ethics for nature enthusiasts to follow when venturing outdoors. This is both courteous to other explorers who may visit the same area in the future, but to also conserve and protect the wildlife and minimize potentially harmful impact. In short, the 7 Principles are as follows:

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

These guidelines can be applied to any outdoor activity anywhere, but is particularly pertinent for picnickers, as you will have to contend with more waste products than if you were biking. Be sure to bring garbage and recycling bags with you in the event there is not a method of waste disposal available at that particular area. 

As one of the first tenets of Leave No Trace, you should always plan ahead and pick a reputable picnic spot in Santa Fe before you venture off – here are a few local favorites: 

If you are looking for a little more picnic with a lot less hassle, a great alternative is staying at a local Santa Fe B&B that offers picnic basket add-ons. For example, Inn on the Paseo offers three different types of picnic baskets for their guests to enjoy – either on the premises or another location of choice! This is a unique option for those looking for a more private and upscale way to dine outdoors in the Santa Fe area. 

Make Santa Fe Your Next Outdoor Adventure!

One of the most amazing things about Santa Fe is that it offers just about every outdoor activity you can think of, and has the temperate climate to offer a comfortable excursion. It does take a bit of planning to finalize the details of your trip, but the stunning vistas are quite worth it!