Santa Fe Day Trips

Santa Fe and its environs offer visitors plenty of sights and experiences. Using the City Different as a base, you can make a variety of day trips to explore everything from ancient ruins and historic mountain towns to rushing rivers ripe for rafting and fishing.

Those looking to step back in time should head to the Puye Cliff Dwellings, a National Historic Landmark and home to the ancestors of today’s Santa Clara Pueblo people. Then, while Dad decides to hit the links for a round of golf at nearby Black Mesa Golf Club, let the kids expend some energy bowling at Big Rock Casino Bowling. When the stomachs start to growl, take the family to Burgers, Wings & Brews at the Santa Claran Hotel.

("Libya 5321 Meercatze (Gatti Mammoni) Petroglyphs Wadi Methkandoush Luca Galuzzi 2007" by I, Luca Galuzzi. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons)

A visit to one of New Mexico’s pueblos is a must-see during your stay. The Pueblo of Acoma, just west of Albuquerque, is one of the most scenic of the state’s nineteen Native American communities. Deemed “Sky City” due to its location on top of a 367-foot-high sandstone mesa, it offers a jaw-dropping view that’s hard to match. Take a guided walking tour to learn about the pueblo’s history and present day way of life, and make sure to stop at the Haak’u Museum, which houses one of the Southwest’s most exemplary collections of native pottery.


The historic village of Chimayo is a favorite day trip for many visitors. This charming hamlet is home to the Santuario de Chimayo, a shrine and National Historic Landmark that is one of the most important Catholic pilgrimage centers in the country. You’ll also enjoy the arts and crafts heritage of the town, especially the weaving scene at Ortega’s Weaving Shop. Weavers ply their ancient craft right on site and the showroom features world-renowned Ortega blankets, rugs, coats, purses and more. When you’ve shopped ‘til you drop, get some sustenance at Rancho de Chimayo, a delightful old world restaurant serving traditional New Mexican cuisine.

(Michael D Martin)

For Georgia O’Keeffe fans, an excursion to Ghost Ranch provides insight into the unique scenery that provided much inspiration for the artist’s work in New Mexico. You can experience the landscape through several tours, including one on horseback. Other tours focus on history, archaeology, paleontology and movie set locations. There’s even a Museum of Paleontology highlighting the dinosaurs discovered on site. You can also opt to explore the red canyons and high-desert mesas on foot, choosing one of five hiking trails available.

Adrenaline junkies and thrill seekers will want to join Los Rios River Runners on one of its half or full day whitewater rafting adventures. The company, which is the oldest, most experienced river rafting company in New Mexico, offers mild and wild trips on the mighty Rio Grande and Rio Chama.

For more river fun, try fly fishing with High Desert Angler, a full service fly shop, school and guide service. The company tailors its services to match your needs and has the ability to get you fly fishing on the most private, premier fly fishing destinations in Northern New Mexico.

Aficionados of wine need to check out New Mexico Wine Tours, a wine and scenic tour company that endeavors to show the beauty of the state along with the local wine tradition. Options include both public and customized excursions that include additional activities such as rafting or native cooking classes. And if you don’t equate wine with New Mexico, think again. The state’s wine history dates back to 1629, making it the oldest in the U.S.

For day trippers without personal transportation or those wanting to leave the driving to others, there’s Enchanted Journeys de Santa Fe, a premier customized transportation service offering a variety of routes. Sit back in comfort and watch the dramatic New Mexico scenery unfold as you ride to the destinations of your choice. Pick from such possibilities as a day in the historic town of Taos, where you can tour the Taos Pueblo, go gallery hopping, learn about Kit Carson at the house museum bearing his name, shop for eclectic New Mexican souvenirs and dine at one of the many restaurants featuring local and regional cuisine. Or, arrange an outing at Bandelier National Monument in the Jemez Mountains. The Monument protects over 30,000 acres of rugged, yet beautiful canyon and mesa country, as well as evidence of a human presence that goes back over 11,000 years. Petroglyphs, Anasazi ruins and cliff dwellings are in abundance and can be reached via several dedicated trails, along with a series of ladders and stone steps.

(Andreas F. Borchert)