5 Close-to–Santa Fe Hikes

There’s a reason crowds of tourists and outdoor enthusiasts flock to New Mexico—specifically Santa Fe—during the summer. Santa Fe is the perfect place to visit if you’re interested in exploring picturesque desert landscapes and taking on the spectacular hiking trails of northern New Mexico. Here is a list of my top five favorite hikes located fewer than 90 minutes from Santa Fe.

Ghost Ranch

Located just over an hour from Santa Fe, Ghost Ranch is an education and retreat center. The gorgeous red and yellow cliffs are breathtaking (literally as the elevation is 7,020 feet and the air is a little thin). Try the Chimney Rock Trail for a quick 90-minute trek or schedule a guided tour on horseback. Post hike enjoy a lakeside picnic at Lake Abiquiu. If you’ve still got energy, grab a lifejacket and paddleboard onto the water. Tip: Put on sunscreen as this trail has little to no shade.

Chimney Rock, Ghost Ranch, New Mexico.

Tent Rocks

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is located 45 minutes from Santa Fe in the Cochiti Pueblo. This national monument is every geologists dream. The cone-shaped rocks were formed due to volcanic eruptions that occurred millions of years ago, covering the area with ash and pumice. Water and wind eroded the softer rock and formed the large cone-shaped formations present today. Experience a walk through a canyon by hiking Slot Canyon Trail, a moderate trek leading to a birds-eye view of the tent rocks. Tip: Get there early! Hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. However, by 10:30 the wait time for a parking spot was over an hour.

slot canyon
Winding path through the canyon, Tent Rocks National Monument, New Mexico.

Nambe Falls

Forty-five minutes outside of Santa Fe is a trail to the Nambe Falls. Even though this is a short half-mile hike, the only way to get to the waterfall is to wade through the ice-cold stream. You’ll want to bring your water shoes on this one. Tip: Be sure to check out the scenic overlook prior to taking the wet walk to the Nambe Falls.

View of Nambe Falls from the scenic overlook.

Santa Fe National Forest

The Santa Fe National Forest is located just 30 minutes outside of downtown Santa Fe and home to several hiking options. Take the winding road and pull off the side of the road at Big Tesuque Trail, Hyde State Park, or any of the other stops along the way to the ski mountain. Tip: As summer comes to an end, plan a fall walk along the Aspen Vista Trail.

View of the Santa Fe National Forest from Aspen Vista Trailhead.

Bandelier National Monument

Fifty minutes outside of Santa Fe is Bandelier National Monument. This particular national treasure proves that humans lived in the area more than 11,000 years ago. The cave dwellings and petroglyphs are pieces of human history. Loop through the 2.6-mile Alcove House Trail and climb the ladders up to the Alcove House. Tip: Do not attempt if afraid of heights.

Ladder up to the Alcove House, Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico.
Ladder up to the Alcove House, Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico.

Have you done any or all of these hikes? Share your experiences in the comments below!

Until next time,

Leah Pinkus


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