Anyone who skis, hikes, mountain bikes, or rafts knows that the Southwest is unsurpassed in its offerings for outdoors enthusiasts. New Mexico is no exception, and the highest concentration of sports lies in the north. You can ski world-class terrain at Taos Ski Valley, bike the edge of the Rio Grande Gorge, and hike the mountains among ancient Anasazi ruins at Bandelier National Monument. Be aware that the region is known for its mercurial weather conditions -- always be prepared for extremes. Also, northern New Mexico is over 6,000 feet in elevation, so it may take you time to catch your breath. Be patient on the long upward hills. The sports you do will, of course, depend a lot on the season. For the full benefit of this trip, take it in late March or early April. With a little advance preparation, you might be able to ski and river raft on the same trip!
Days 1 & 2: Albuquerque
When you arrive in Albuquerque, you may want to get acclimated to the city by strolling through Old Town and visiting the Albuquerque Biological Park to get a sense of the nature in the area. A visit to the Pueblo Cultural Center will get you acquainted with the culture you'll encounter as you head north. On day 2, for a truly unique experience, you may want to schedule a balloon ride first thing in the morning. Just be sure to make advance reservations for this exhilarating activity. If you're a bike rider or hiker, head to Petroglyph National Monument to see thousands of symbols etched on stone. In the evening, ride the Sandia Peak Tramway and go hiking along the crest. If you'd like, you can have dinner at the High Finance Restaurant and Tavern and view the city lights as you come down.
Day 3: The Turquoise Trail to Santa Fe
Head for the ghost towns and other sights along the Turquoise Trail to Santa Fe. If you like to ride horses, schedule a ride in Cerrillos with Broken Saddle Riding Company. This will put you in Santa Fe in time to do some late-afternoon sightseeing. Head straight to the plaza, the Palace of the Governors, and St. Francis Cathedral. When you've had enough touring for one day, and you've worked up an appetite, treat yourself to an enchilada at the Shed.
Day 4: Santa Fe
Use your own bike or rent a cruiser in town to ride around the plaza and up Canyon Road. Stop at the top of Canyon at the Randall Davey Audubon Center to do some bird-watching. Alternatively, you may want to head to the mountains to do some hiking on the Borrego Trail or, if it's winter, some skiing at Ski Santa Fe. Finish your day at one of the fun restaurants or cafes on Canyon Road. In the evening, depending on the season, you may want to take in some of Santa Fe's excellent arts, such as the Santa Fe Opera or the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival.
Day 5: Bandelier National Monument
Head out from Santa Fe to Bandelier National Monument and hike among ancient ruins. Follow the Frijoles Trail as far up as you'd like, making sure you stop to climb the ladders to the kiva perched high on the canyon wall. Trail runners like to jog the Frijoles Trail, with its easy descent back to the start. Follow the Rio Grande River north and you'll come to Taos. Spend the evening strolling around the plaza to get a feel of the city.
Day 6: Taos
Sports lovers have many options in this town. If you like to ride horses, take a ride on Taos Pueblo land. Alternatively, you may want to take a llama trek into the Rio Grande Gorge, or hike up to the top of Wheeler Peak, New Mexico's highest, a full-day trek. If it's ski season, you'll definitely want to spend the day at Taos Ski Valley. If you're visiting in the spring and the rivers are running, take the full-day heart-throbbing romp through the Taos Box or a half-day trip at Pilar.
Day 7: The High Road
The last day, take a leisurely drive south toward Santa Fe. You'll want to take the High Road, through the art villages of Cordova and Chimayo. Stop at the Santuario de Chimayo and have lunch on the patio at Rancho de Chimayo. Depending on your plane reservations, you can spend the night in Santa Fe or Albuquerque.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.