Santa Fe was an awesome central point for a ton of cool hikes in New Mexico. While staying at the VRBO, we took a few day trips out to the wilderness for some fun adventures.
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks. This was such an awesome short hike. It was only about 4 miles round trip, but had so many cool features along the trail. At the bottom, you weaved through these smooth canyon walls. Then, you had to climb some steep rocks to get to the top of the trail. Once at the top, you were greeted with views of the "tent rocks" (cone shaped rock formations) and amazing views of the snow capped mountains in the distance. And on the way back down, you hiked by caves that were once used as homes thousands of years ago. If you look closely at that last picture of Brett in the cave, you can see the black soot that still remains from the fires they had in the caves. This stuff is so cool to me!
The other day hike we did while staying in Santa Fe was in the Sante Fe National Forest. Um, let's just say we were not exactly prepared for this hike. We ended up doing the longest and most strenuous day hike we've probably ever done because the trails were very poorly marked. We ended up hiking way out of the way and along trails we were not planning on traveling on. We climbed the most ridiculously steep hill I have ever climbed in my life. There were NO switchbacks. We literally climbed straight UP about 6 football fields worth of height elevation. From the base of a mountain to the very top of it. Also, snow. We were not expecting to encounter snow. My legs were freezing. But fun story, right? ;)
After we checked out of our VRBO in Santa Fe, we headed into a different part of the Santa Fe National Forest for some camping. We were originally planning on camping further up the mountain, but it was so cold that we decided to camp down in the valley at a lower elevation. But unfortunately, it was just as cold down there. This was by FAR the coldest camping night of our entire trip (in New Mexico of all places). There was a point during the night that we were so cold that I got into Brett's sleeping bag with him so we could stay warm with our body heat. I was so glad when morning came. Our original plan was to do a 2-3 day backpacking trip in the forest, but after the night of camping in the frigid temperatures, that plan was thrown out the window immediately. Instead, we did an amazing day hike that took us up a mountain with spectacular views to a beautiful lake that was nestled in the trees at the top of the mountain. Successful alternative to backpacking. :)
The rest of our time in New Mexico was spent in much warmer temperatures. We left the freezing Santa Fe National Forest and headed west. We stopped for beers at the Santa Fe Brewing Company, camped in amazingly pleasant warm temperatures, bought fresh produce at a local market, and checked out the ancient ruins at Aztec Ruins National Monument. And with that, our week in New Mexico had come to an end and we were on the road to Colorado!