I have always liked cactus, even when I lived in areas were cactus were virtually unknown. Although I knew next to nothing about them I still found them fascinating. One reason was their thorns. Thorny plants will keep people from stepping on them! Another plus is cactus required very little care. After moving to Santa Fe I discovered the Eldorado Cactus Garden and I thought I was in heaven.
What and where is Eldorado?
Eldorado is a community located about 10 minutes south of Santa Fe just off I-25. The houses there are on one to three acre lots and most of the ground has been left in a natural state. The sight of this natural state may be a bit of a shock to those coming from the East or Midwest. Back in those parts, plush green lawns are the norm. That is not the norm in New Mexico. Local gramma grass and cactus are well adapted to the dry climate. To properly appreciate how beautiful this type of landscape can be you must visit the Eldorado Cactus Garden.
Layout of Cactus at Eldorado
A big surprise for those coming from back east is discovering that cactuses flower. Cactus flowers come in all different colors and many are quite spectacular. The Eldorado cactus garden contains over one hundred verities of cactus. May and June is the time of year when most verities are in bloom. It is a sight not to be missed! You will be amazed.
My own little Garden
Those who are new to the area I recommend you start your own little cactus garden. I have cactus in pots and in the ground. Cactus likes being in pots just as well and in the ground. Pots work very well for Beaver Tail, Scarlet Hedge Hog, Banana Yucca, Claret Cup and Cholla. Cactus are very easy to transplant so some in the ground it is no problem to move them to a more desirable location . Start your own cactus garden and you will become a true son of Santa Fe.
To take a cactus hike contact Santa Fe Footprints.
On my last adventure I hiked up Atalya mountain. An excellent adventure. It was also a strenuous work out. But it was worth it. Now it was time to hike among the cactus. Aren’t cactuses those thorny things that stick you? True but this time of year all the cactus varieties are blooming.
Where to go
One of my favorite places to hike among the cactus is the Arroyo Hondo open space. This is a nice easy trail located only a ten-minute drive from the heart of Santa Fe. It is just down the road from the world-famous Harry’s Roadhouse. Well I’m not sure it is world-famous but it is a popular watering hole for movie stars and Santa Fe notables. You can see Harrys from the top of the trail and it is a great place for breakfast before or lunch after your hike.
Prickly Pears and Dogs
The most ubiquitous cactus that I find on the Arroyo Hondo trail is the Prickly Pear. They have large flat paddle shaped pads with thrones that can be two inches long. For those concerned about their dogs, there is no need to worry. I have hiked with a dog, with groups who had dogs and seen many hikers on the trail with dogs even off leash. Dogs seem to instinctively know to keep their distance.
This time of year, late May and early June is a special time to hike among the cactus. The Prickly Pears have a bright yellow flower. Scarlet Hedge Hogs have a red blossom among its many thorns. The Claret Cups are a personal favorite. This year they covered with red flowers. Of course, let us not forget the tree Cholla with its unique yellow blooms.
If you would like to hike among the cactus, contract Santa Fe Footprints for a hike or historic tour of Santa Fe.
I have done a nice semi flat hike now it is time to do some hiking up high. I am not ready to go way up high as in Deception Peak at over 12,000 feet however I am ready for Atalya mountain trail. This trial is a 2,000-foot elevation gain to the summit of 9,121 feet.
Still Locked Down
Our good Governor here in the Land of Enchantment (that is what we call the State of New
Side bell penstemon along the trail.
Mexico) has loosened the lock down. Loosened just a bit that is. Museums and all the sites tourist come to Santa Fe to see are still under lock and key. But New Mexico is called the Land of Enchantment because its natural beauty is enchanting.
Experience the Enchantment
In the current situation and under any conditions to truly experience the enchantment I say you must get out and hike. This time I decided to go hiking up high. For those who are thinking hiking up high, that sounds strenuous. It may be beyond what I can do. I say try it and I guarantee you will like it.
On Atalya sunshine streams through the ponderosa pines.
The trail up Atalya mountain is a fairly famous and popular trail here in Santa Fe. Real hiking men and women talk about doing the trail in two hours. I’m not into speed. I’m into the
experience and of course the views. Plus, I’m not young and crazy! My round trip took a little over five hours. The five hours included time at the summit for little lunch and to take in the excellent views.
Worth the Effort
Along the trail there are several branches. One branch says ‘steep’ the other less so. Even following the less so branches I had
On top of Atalya with Santa Fe below & the Jemez mt. 50 miles distant.
to stop every now and then to get my breath. I kept marching on, working my legs and using my trekking poles to work my upper body. The tree provided shade but the patches of sunshine felt good. When I reached the top, I knew that hiking up high had been worth the effort.
Check out Santa Fe Footprints for hikes and historic tour around Santa Fe.
I need fresh air. We are still locked down. The NYT has published stories that sun, warm temperatures MAY not kill this virus. Never mind that it kills all known viruses and fresh air and sunshine has been good for people for centuries.
Where to Go?
A beautiful day to be on a trail in the Galisteo Basin. You can see for 50 miles.
The main question I had was where to go. Last week I had led a group up into the mountains and hiked among the trees. This week I wanted semi flat and wide-open terrain. I knew the trails at Galisteo Basin were just the ticket. The Galisteo Basin is only a fifteen-minute drive south of Santa Fe.
Old windmill stand silent along a trail in the Galisteo Basin.
I began the hike at 8:30 am. I need fresh air and it was plentiful. The temperature was just right. Not to cool and not to hot. The sky was clear and the sun was shining bright. The views extended for 50 miles in all direction. I like these trails because as I said they are fairly flat. At least they start out that way. The view is un-interrupted for 360 degrees around you. Starting a hike on this fairly flat terrain allows your mussels to flex and stretch. You fill your lungs with fresh clean air and spirts begin to lift.
The trails at Galisteo Basin are not all flat. After you get your legs working and you breath in copious amounts of fresh Santa Fe air you begin to go up hill. The ridges are not too high. Just enough to work the legs a bit more. The climb makes me take some deep breaths. I take more deep breaths. I need fresh air! I’m getting that fresh air!
The ridges are certainly not the top of the world here around Santa Fe but they do provide and unobstructed view for miles around. I never get tired of these fantastic views which hiking around Santa Fe provide.
Three hours on the trial has revived my spirts and given me hope for the future.
A hike with Santa Fe Footprints is just the ticket for you.
The group on the Borrego trail
Yes! Get out and hike! The COVID panic has utterly destroyed the tourist season here in Santa Fe. The panicky governor and hysterical mayor have shut-down all of the art festivals that make June, July and August in Santa Fe so enjoyable. Never mind that a virus can not survive in the sun and 80+ degrees temperatures. Not satisfied with destroying the art fairs they have closed all the wonderful shops. If you want to go to Home Depot or Lowes, fine. If you where interested in Indian art or the excellent Santa Fe shopping scene, forget about it. So what can you do? Get out and hike!
Are you in Danger?
Now it is true that the virus effects virtually no one under 50. If you are 60+ there is maybe a .5% of catching something. But don’t worry our hospitals have plenty of room! True they are laying off staff but on the .05% chance you need the hospital you will be welcomed with open arms!
The Santa Fe economy
The economy of Santa Fe is based on three main pillars. The art scene, tourism and state government. The government has deliberately destroyed the first two. So, what is a likely tourist supposed to do? Get out and hike!
Hiking trails are open!
There is one activity that the COVID dictators have not been able to crush. It is also one of the best parts about visiting Santa Fe. This activity is hiking the many trails around the city. They have closed the National parks like Bandelier and Tent Rocks but the hiking trails in the surrounding mountains are open.
Were can you hike?
A few days ago, I drove up Hyde Park Road towards the ski area. Cars filled the parking areas at the numerous trail heads along the road. I finally found a space at the Borrego trail head.
Free at last!
It was a beautiful day for hiking. The temperature up in the mountains was about 60. The sun was shining and creating incredible shadows through the trees. Everyone on the trail and in out of our Santa Fe Footprints group observed proper, if in my view unnecessary, distancing. The pure mountain air was invigorating and the exorcise got everyone’s blood pumping.
Don’t be a prisoner!
The lesson is don’t be a prisoner! The mountains and hiking trails of Santa Fe are waiting for you! GET OUT and HIKE !!!!