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Santa Fe Riding: Historic and Timeless

Listed under One Day Horse Rides in New Mexico, United States.

  • Photo of Santa Fe Riding: Historic and Timeless
  • Photo of Santa Fe Riding: Historic and Timeless
Photo of Santa Fe Riding: Historic and Timeless
Photo by Hal Peat
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Santa Fe, New Mexico and its surrounding region are filled with some of the earliest traces of European presence along with the imprint of its native American inhabitants and then the individual geographic wonders which all make this a favored destination in the American southwest. Much of this can be explored in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, which is the range near the city and accessible on trails followed by local riding operators.

One popular option for staying and riding in the area is at Bishop's Lodge Resort, just outside of Santa Fe and an historic property itself. The hotel has its own horse corral and on-site ranch hands and guides that take you out into the nearby hills. The ride lasts around an hour and a half to two hours and since this is considered to be the high desert, the fauna and flora and wildlife are often different than what you encounter in low desert riding such as in Arizona. Thus along the way you might expect to pass by pinon trees, ponderosa pines or juniper trees, and in the late summer and early fall there are splashes of wildflowers among the grasses. Local inhabitants include small deer and even occasional elk, bobcats, bears, rabbits and lizards. The trails are rocky at points but also soft dirted in other parts. You also ride through some arroyos -- which are a kind of sand wash -- and you can canter or even gallop on these easier stretches. But there is steep terrain along most of the trail which leads up to a mesa (flat mountain top).

The guides will coach and instruct novice riders beforehand on how to manage the steeper trails. During wintery or icy weather, the rides are limited to the lower trails and arroyos. Horses here are mostly either American quarter or paint horse, along with some mustangs and Arabians. They are very well attuned to their trail and also the presence of other wildlife, since they live in outdoors corrals themselves. A more lengthy adventure now happens during good weather with the cowboy cookout and trail ride that goes up to the top of the mesa for a traditional cowboy repast, with views that go all the way to Colorado and Albuquerque.

Children under 8 may still learn some horsemanship at the lodge's corral where kids are given their own mini-trail and ride event.

Written by  Hal Peat.

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