Trip Number: 13063A
Staff: Gene Goldberg
- Explore ancient and modern native pueblos
- Tour museums and art galleries
- Hike mesas, valleys, and mountains
- All lodging in hotels
- Tasty meals and all gratuities
- On-trip transportation
Northern New Mexico is home to thousands of years of human settlement. Here
you can find pueblo ruins dating back to the eighth century, 1,000-year-old
living pueblos, the Spanish culture of the conquistadors, and contemporary artist
colonies. All of this is set in a dramatic, high-desert environment. With altitudes
of the settled areas ranging from 5,000 to 8,000 feet and nearby mountains up
to 12,000 feet, the terrain is a mix of red rock formations, mesas, valleys,
and wooded streams, and always the strong, clear lighting that has drawn thousands
of artists and lovers of nature to settle here.
Our itinerary includes hikes in a variety of terrain, and visits to Coronado
State Mounument, Bandelier National Monument, two living native pueblos, one
traditional dance festival, and some top-rate museums and art galleries. Transportation
is by van driven by the leaders. We stay in one motel in Santa Fe for the whole
trip. During free time, it's only a ten-minute walk to the 400-year-old central
plaza. Each day ends with a dinner at one of the region's many excellent restaurants
where we enjoy a variety of cuisines.
Photo: Gene Goldberg
Note: This itinerary is tentative, but weather, the flexible nature of Pueblo
calendars, desires of the group, and other circumstances may require changes
to the order or content. We appreciate your flexibility.
Day 1: We meet this morning at 10 a.m. at our hotel within
walking distance of Santa Fe’s historic plaza. We’ll have an orientation
meeting, lunch (our first meal of the trip), and a short tour of downtown Santa
Fe. After the tour, you're on your own to explore, shop, or just settle in to
the hotel until we meet again for dinner.
Day 2: In the morning we drive to Coronado State Park where
we see an abandoned pueblo and interior murals that are several hundred years
old. These are some of the finest samples of pre-Columbian art in North America.
After a picnic lunch, we head to the pueblo of San Felipe and attend the Green
Corn Dance Festival.
Day 3: An hour’s drive north of Santa Fe is Ghost Ranch,
where artist Georgia O'Keeffe lived and painted for awhile. Here we visit a
museum containing exhibits on dinosaurs, anthropology, and art. Then we hike
up Kitchen Mesa, a red-rock formation that rises steeply above the surrounding
area. Time permitting we'll make a short visit to Abiquiu, where O'Keeffe owned
a house. The hike requires 3.5 hours of walking and includes 600 feet of elevation.
Day 4: We spend today in Taos. First, we tour the 1,000-year-old
living pueblo with a local guide who will explain the pueblo lifestyle and culture.
After the pueblo, we have lunch in, and wander through, the modern city, renowned
as an artist's colony. Historic Spanish buildings are commingled with contemporary
ones, and there are many galleries.
Day 5: After a 20-minute drive to the little-known petroglyph
site at La Cieneguilla, an archaeologist or rock art enthusiast will give us
an hour tour of the site as we scramble along the rocky path. Then we continue
west to Tent Rocks, an area of cone-shaped rocks formed by volcanic activity
followed by erosion. Our hike here is 3.5 miles with 900 feet of elevation gain
and loss. We’ll have a picnic lunch at an overlook, then return to Santa
Fe for more free time in the afternoon.
Photo: Gene Goldberg
Driving near Glorietta Pass, the site of the only civil
war battle in New Mexico, we reach the trailhead for Glorietta Ghost Town. This
pleasant hike along the wooded bank of a stream is replete with wildflowers,
some abandoned mines, and even the ruins of a sawmill. This seven-mile hike
has 950 feet of elevation gain and takes about five hours.
Day 7: A highlight of the trip today is our visit to Bandelier
National Monument. First, we tour the visitor center, then walk the popular
1.5-mile main loop trail through ancient ruins nestled on the side of the narrow
Frijoles Canyon. After a picnic lunch, we’ll enjoy one of the several
short hikes available in the park. Options range from 1.5 to 7 miles; we’ll
decide based on trail conditions and group preference.
Day 8: Back in Santa Fe, today is museum day. On Museum Hill
we find the Museums of Indian Arts and Culture, International Folk Art, Spanish
Colonial Art, and the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian. Learn about
the art you see, as afterwards we stroll among the famous art galleries of Canyon
Day 9: There are several options for today. One is a half-day
cooking class followed by a tasting of wines and/or liquors made in New Mexico.
Another option is a hike in the vicinity of Chimayo, home to the pilgrimage
church, Sanctuario de Chimayo.
Day 10: The trip ends after breakfast, but if you haven’t
had enough, there’s plenty more to do in the area. Ask your leader for
The trip begins and ends in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We start the morning of
April 30, 2013, at our hotel near downtown. We end the trip after breakfast
on May 9. Santa Fe has a small airport, with a few daily flights to either Los
Angeles or Dallas on American Airlines. Other airlines have many more flights
to Albuquerque, 50 miles away. From the Santa Fe airport, taxis to our hotel
take about 15 minutes and cost about $35. There is also a new shuttle service
to hotels for only $15 one way or $27 round trip. From Albuquerque, there is
a shuttle van (one hour, $47 round trip) or you can take a combination of bus
and commuter train (2 hours, $7 one way.) Contact information for these will
be sent to approved participants. It is possible that the leader could pick
up members at the Santa Fe airport or return them after the trip on an as-arranged
basis at no charge.
Accommodations and Food
Photo: Gene Goldberg
Our lodging is at a small motel 10 minute’s walk from the central plaza.
Rooms are small, but have a great Southwestern character. The staff is friendly
and helpful. Full breakfast buffet is included. Standard lodging is doubles;
solo travelers will be paired with someone else of the same gender. Single supplements
may be available at extra cost, depending on room availability. Contact the
leader for more information.
Lunches will be a combination of picnics while we are on the trail or visiting
more remote cultural sites, or simple restaurants or delis while we are in towns.
Trip members are encouraged to help shop for and prepare the picnic lunches.
Dinners will be at local restaurants. We will have opportunities to sample the
wide variety of excellent cuisine available here, including among others, Mexican,
New Mexican, and Spanish. Participants order from the standard menu or a limited
selection specially prepared for our group. Vegetarians can easily be accommodated;
those with other dietary restrictions should contact the leader.
We have a few hikes in mountainous or otherwise steep, rocky terrain, and
most other days involve extensive walking around towns or archaeological sites.
Some archaeological sites have crude wooden ladders to some cave dwellings.
On one hike, there is a narrow rocky crevasse we ascend. You should be able
to make a seven-mile, 1,000-foot-elevation-gain hike, with your day pack, in
five hours, including lunch and rest time.
Our walking will generally be on clear -- but often rocky -- paths, with some
very steep sections that will be more challenging. Our pace will slow down at
the steep parts. You will be carrying a day pack only, with foul-weather clothing,
water, and lunch.
It is best to prepare for this trip by keeping to a regular exercise schedule
and taking frequent day hikes in hilly terrain -- preferably at altitudes similar
to the ones we will encounter. If you don’t live near hilly terrain, ask
the leader for suggestions on a conditioning program. You need to be doing aerobic
exercises at least three times a week, and, if hill- or stair-climbing with
a pack is not included in that, you should at least be doing resistance training
for your legs and core or hiking in hills.
May is usually a balmy time in Santa Fe, but keep in mind that we will visit
some places substantially lower in elevation (hence warmer), and some higher
(hence colder). Expect temperatures from the 50s to the upper 70s. Rainfall
is usually modest, if any, at this time of year. All that said, it could be
freezing, into the 80s, rainy, or even snowy on some days. Strong winds are
also a possibility. Our weather is extremely variable. Come prepared to layer
your clothing so you can adjust for all circumstances.
Equipment and Clothing
Photo: Gene Goldberg
No special equipment is required. You will need the gear you normally use
on day hikes. Lightweight, broken-in boots are the most important item. Besides
that, bring a day pack with your hiking essentials, including water, raingear,
and something to keep you warm should the weather turn unexpectedly. Poles would
be helpful on the steep and rocky parts. The leader will provide a more detailed
list later. Be sure you have enough extra room for your share of the picnic
lunches. Bring comfortable, casual clothes for the days we don’t hike.
This is an informal region; no one will expect you to dress for dinner.
- Sky Terrain Trail Maps; Santa Fe with Bandelier & Los Alamos;
- Santa Fe Bikeways & Trails Map, Santa Fe Metropolitan Planning
- Pinkerton, Elaine, Santa Fe On Foot.
- Northern New Mexico Group of the Sierra Club, Day Hikes in the Santa Fe
- Lister, Florence C., In the Shadow of the Rocks.
- Noble, David Grant, Ancient Ruins of the Southwest.
- Patterson, Alex, Rock Art Symbols of the Greater Southwest.
Photo: Gene Goldberg
Sierra Club is an environmentally focused entity. We are concerned about conservation
and sustainability of resources, both locally and globally. Our work is accomplished
by volunteers, aided by a salaried staff, encouraging grassroots involvement.
Our outings seek to empower participants toward environmentally understanding
parallel concerns at home and away.
The Southwest is unique in our country for the age, and hence impacts, of occupancy.
People have lived in this region for at least 4,000 years. Our guides at the
pueblos will talk to us about how their ancestors dealt with the unforgiving
environment of the Southwest. We will have an archaeologist or amateur rock
art enthusiast accompany us at La Cieneguilla, and hope to have a geologist
at Tent Rocks. A Sierra Club activist will join us one evening to talk about
local conservation issues.
See the How to Apply for an Outing section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation Policy.
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
Gene Goldberg has been leading Sierra Club trips since 1990. Now retired, leading is his principle occupation. His Sierra Club trips have included backpacking in the Colorado Rockies as well as trips to Italy, the Alps, New Zealand, and Bhutan, among others. He now lives in Santa Fe with his wife, Gail, and dogs, Whisky and Bailey. Visit his website at http://genesoutings.camprecipes.com/ for more information about the trips he leads, as well as some photos from past outings.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips