The Best Guide Companies for Getting Outdoors in Santa Fe

by  Jill K. Robinson | May 15, 2013
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe, New Mexico / Sean Pavone / iStock

Many come to Santa Fe for the mouthwatering New Mexican cuisine, Southwestern art scene, or rich Native American and Latino culture. But with such wide-open spaces surrounding the city, it'd be a shame to visit without getting in a little outdoor adventure as well.

Desert experiences vary from light to more active, depending on whether travelers want to dip their toes or immerse themselves in the wilderness. While it's always possible to plan your own adventure, some outfitters make it easy to fit in a variety of ways to enjoy the outdoors. Here are some of my favorites:

Hotel-and-tour combo:
Guests at the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe can join hotel staff for a morning hike (Fridays through Sundays) on trails that wind through the Sangre de Cristo foothills. The resort overlooks the Rio Grande River Valley, the peaks of the Jemez Mountains, and the wilds of New Mexico in all directions, so you're guaranteed to get quite a view. The resort also has a dedicated on-site adventure center for activities beyond the immediate property. Adventures include everything from mountain biking in the Sangre de Cristo mountains adjacent to the property and hiking in famed Georgia O'Keeffe country to fly fishing, snow shoeing, and day trips to Taos and beyond.

Despite the convenience of having your hotel set up your outdoor experience in the Santa Fe region, there are ample offerings by a wealth of other outfitters. If you're yearning for some water in the desert, try a whitewater rafting trip on the nearby Rio Grande and Chama rivers with Santa Fe Rafting, Kokopelli Rafting Adventures, or New Wave Rafting. The season tends to run from April through September, with the wild/mild index leaning towards bigger rapids earlier in the season, due to snowmelt.

Or, maybe you want to catch your own dinner? Try your hand at fly fishing with guide services offered by High Desert Angler or The Reel Life. Both offer guide services for fly fishing the rivers and lakes of Northern New Mexico, on both public and private waters.

Back on land, you can go from slow to speedy with multiple programs covering hiking, geocaching trips, and sunset four-wheel-drive tours offered by Santa Fe Walkabouts, Outspire Hiking & Snowshoeing, and Santa Fe Mountain Adventures. YogiHiker combines walks into the mountains with yoga sessions.

If your own two feet aren't fast enough, switch to two wheels with a bike adventure. Mellow Velo has a rental fleet of high-end mountain bikes, road bikes, multi-use mountain bikes, and city cruisers. Their excellent collection of maps is a great help for visitors looking for that perfect mountain or road ride.

Get even closer to the awe-inspiring rocky landscape with a rock-climbing outing. There are plenty of places to climb in northern New Mexico between Santa Fe and Taos to suit a variety of skill levels. The Santa Fe Climbing Center not only has an excellent indoor climbing facility, but also leads a number of different guided trips.

When you're done, there's always time to round out your trip with gallery and museum visits, shopping, or a chile-infused meal with a crisp margarita. What are your favorite outdoor activities and companies in Santa Fe?

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