Exploring New Mexico - Land of Enchantment

Destination: New Mexico

| Activities: Hiking, White Water Rafting, Stand Up Paddle Boarding, & Culture

New Mexico is called the Land of Enchantment and we think we know why. It has stunning desert landscapes, breathtaking mountains, great cuisine and a spectacular river - the Rio Grande. It has a mix of European American, Native American, and Mexican heritage, the state is a unique and colorful place to visit. We've picked a sample of the some of the best that it has to offer in hiking, exploring and adventure. We'll go hiking, rafting and stand up paddle boarding and have time to browse Santa Fe's galleries and museums.
We will also explore the area's cultural history, explore Bandelier National Monument, Chaco Canyon National Monument, and Ghost Ranch, and have the option to soothe our muscles at the spa at Ten Thousand Waves.
Group size: 12

Highlights

  • Exploring the natural beauty of New Mexico by foot, stand up paddleboard and raft
  • Learning about Native American culture at Bandelier National Monument and Chaco Canyon
  • Visiting Santa Fe's many galleries and museums
  • Learning about the amazing geology of the area
  • Savoring deliciously authentic New Mexican cuisine
  • Absorbing the peaceful vistas and plentiful history of Ghost Ranch
  • Hiking in Bandelier, Chaco Canyon, and Santa Fe National Forest

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Inclusions

  • 1-2 experienced guides depending on group size
  • Seven nights lodging in double occupancy rooms
  • Great meals in wonderful local restaurants
  • Whitewater rafting and flatwater stand up paddleboarding
  • Entrance to Bandelier National Monument and Chaco Canyon
  • All lodging, meals (except 1 dinner), and activities on the itinerary

What's not included: travel to and from Albuquerque, 1 dinner specified in the itinerary, guide gratuities, alcoholic beverages, optional activities (Ghost Ranch tours, Ten Thousand Waves Spa) and travel insurance.

Trip Info

This trip is suitable for any active woman who wants a vacation that mixes being active in the outdoors with historical and cultural exploration. A basic level of fitness is needed. A rating of 2 is suitable for any woman who regularly walks at a brisk pace 3 to 4 days a week for 35 - 45 minutes.Rating: 1 [2] 3 4 5.

New Mexico has long been known for its fascinating history, stunning natural beauty, vibrant arts and culture, and great cuisine. On this trip, we've picked a sample of the best that it has to offer for seven days of fun and adventure. We will explore the trip on foot, from a raft, and on a stand up paddleboard. We will visit Bandelier National Monument and the amazing Chaco Canyon Historical National Park. There is an option to soothe your muscles at Ten Thousand Waves Japanese Spa.

At the beginning of the trip we will stay at the Rio Grande Inn, an Albuquerque hotel within walking distance to Historic Old Town and a short shuttle from the airport. In Grants we will stay in standard hotels with 2-beds and a full bath. At Ghost Ranch we will stay in simple but comfortably appointed dorm style rooms with their own showers, and will have the entire building to ourselves. As we move on to Santa Fe we will stay at the historic La Fonda on the Plaza. La Fonda is the only hotel located directly on the Santa Fe Plaza and has been in operation for over 100 years in this incredible location.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

DAY 1
The trip begins at 1 p.m. in Albuquerque, where we meet as a group at our hotel. We have the afternoon to meet each other and hike in the Petroglyph National Monument. The site has hundreds of petroglyphs that were created by both the earliest and the most recent inhabitants. Our hike on the Mesa Point Trail passes lots of petroglyphs as it winds its way to the mesa top. From here a 360-degree view provides views of Albuquerque and the Sandia mountains to the east, the Sangre de Cristos to the north, and the extinct volcanoes to the west. We will have a picnic dinner and watch the sunset over Albuquerque. (D)
DAY 2
After breakfast we will pack up and head out for paddle boarding on the Rio Grande River. The Rio Grande is the reason Albuquerque is located where it is, and our paddling trip is down a stretch of river that encompasses the area where the Coronado campaign wintered in 1540. We will put in among a beautiful stand of cottonwoods in Algodones, then traverse approximately 8 miles of remarkably secluded Rio Grande valley. The river is wide, and the waters are gentle in this section of the river. After finishing our float, we will head to the El Malpais National Monument for another type of river. This time, it’s an ancient lava flow. We will explore one of the newest flows just 3,000 years old. Overnight, Grants NM (B, L, D)
DAY 3
We get an early start this morning so that we can have a full day at Chaco Culture National Historic Park. Chaco Canyon, the focal point of Ancient Puebloan culture, contains over a dozen major pueblo ruins. While the Ancient Puebloans lived over the entire Four Corners area, their civilization is generally regarded as having reached its pinnacle in Chaco. Advanced building techniques, irrigation systems, and astronomical observations, are all evidence of a very advanced civilization that flourished there around 1000 AD. That civilization collapsed after 1200 AD for reasons that are still unclear, and the people dispersed to become the forefathers of today's Rio Grande Pueblo people. The isolation and vastness of the Canyon contribute to its sense of mystery and majesty. We start at the very informative Visitors Center. From there we can visit some of the ruins, possibly including one that is a three-mile hike up on the rim. There is more to see than we can fit in, and we'll leave with a much better appreciation of this amazing culture. This afternoon we will depart for Ghost Ranch Retreat Center with dinner along the way.

Note: The drive to Chaco Canyon takes almost 2 hours each way on rough roads, the reason why it receives fewer visitors than you would expect. Is it worth it? We think so! Overnight Ghost Ranch (B, L, D)
DAY 4
Wake up to a leisurely morning surrounded by the colorful rock walls and endless skies of Ghost Ranch Retreat Center. The Ranch, made famous by Georgia O’ Keeffe, offers its 21,000 acres as a place to disconnect and explore what feeds your soul. The day is yours to explore the stunning natural environment and rich geologic and cultural history however you see fit. Our guides will offer 3-5 mile hikes on the property including a short but steep climb to the stunning panoramic views of the Chimney Rock Trail, or you can choose from the Ranch’s many offerings, including historic tours and trail rides, and museums. We’ll gather for meals indoors or out at the Ghost Ranch Dining Hall. End the day together around a crackling campfire. Overnight Ghost Ranch (B, L, D)
DAY 5
In the morning we head to Bandelier National Monument, home to the Ancestral Pueblo people from the 12th to the 16th century, modern compared to those who lived in Chaco Canyon. We'll start with a hike outside the main canyon, the 1.5-mile Tsankawi Loop trail that goes over the top of an unexcavated large Ancestral Pueblo Ruins site on a mesa top and passes some cliff dwellings along the cliff face. We then continue to the main section of Bandelier, Frijoles Canyon. After stopping by the Visitor Center we'll hike out on a paved trail through the middle of Frijoles Canyon that showcases not only several well-preserved easily accessible ruins but also the beauty of this red rock canyon. After spending time exploring the trails and ruins of Bandelier, we head for Santa Fe, our home for the next three nights. In the afternoon we will have a walking tour of Santa Fe which will get us oriented to the city and introduce us to some of the famous sites. Overnight Santa Fe (B, L, D)
DAY 6
If the Taos Pueblo has re-opened, we'll depart early for a visit. The Pueblo is featured in the paintings of many of New Mexico's artists, it has been continuously inhabited for over 1000 years and its multi-storied pueblo buildings are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If the Pueblo is not yet open, we will spend an equally delightful morning strolling through Santa Fe's charming museums and galleries. Before lunch we will head out to our rafting put-in spot for a picnic along the beautiful and graceful Rio Grande river. The river was designated as an American Heritage River in 1998 and the 1,800-mile river is as beautiful as it is long. After a picnic lunch, we will get ready for our incredibly fun whitewater rafting on the class 2 and 3 rapids of a section of the Rio Grande called the Racecourse. Dinner is on your own tonight to explore one of Santa Fe's other culinary options. Overnight Santa Fe (B, L)
DAY 7
Today we hike in the mountains behind Santa Fe on a 4.5-mile loop that drips down into a shady valley full of aspen, fir and pine trees. After stopping for lunch and a break at a beautiful spot along Tesuque Creek, we will head back up onto the ridge along sweeping switchbacks to complete the loop. At an elevation of 8,900 feet we will certainly take time to enjoy the flowers! When we return to town you have the rest of the afternoon free to explore Santa Fe's many museums and galleries or the option to visit Ten Thousand Waves, a Japanese-style health spa with hot tubs situated on the side of the mountain. Your guides will coordinate rides to the spa. You can also book a 'treatment' for yourself anytime between 2 PM - 5:30 PM. If you prefer to stay in town, we recommend wandering the galleries of Canyon Road, or visiting the Museum of International Folk Art, or Georgia O' Keeffe Museum. Tonight, we will get our final taste of New Mexican cuisine at a nearby restaurant. Overnight Santa Fe (B, L, D)
DAY 8
It's our last morning in Santa Fe and we'll continue to savor every minute! We'll enjoy our last breakfast together before making our way back to Albuquerque. If you're driving, you can plan to leave by 9:30 AM. If you're flying we'll return you to the Albuquerque airport by 10:30 AM for a flight out after 12:30 PM. (B)

4.8

(22 reviews)
4.7 Food
4.5 Lodging
4.8 Safety
5
(18)
4
(4)
3
(0)
2
(0)
1
(0)

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "What made this trip special for you?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

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Catherine S.
0 months ago

Laura L.
1 month ago

I really enjoyed the trip. The weather was a bit chilly and made some of the events not as fun, but overall a very good trip

Joan C.
1 month ago

The amount of knowledge I gained from the places we visited. I wasn’t expecting to be immersed in the Native American culture as we were. The hiking was also an enjoyable part of the trip.

Deborah S.
1 month ago

Great guides, interesting activities, beautiful area of the country, great accommodations

Pamela M.
1 month ago

The other travelers & the guides. Our group was lots of fun & everyone got along. Our guides were so kind, even driving us to museums even when it was free time.

Bridget W.
1 month ago

This is the third time I am answering this evaluation. I had detailed the first two times that were deleted, but this time I will just tell you here: The trip was amazing with a full itinerary implemented excellently by both Debra and Chris. They work seamlessly together so my comments about them were how amazing they both were. The food they chose was excellent--unexpectedly so. They were very supportive, making sure participants felt free to make their own decisions. They went out of their way to buy and provide things women wanted... they were so kind and so professional, not to mention uncommonly competent and flexible!

Lisa S.
2 years ago

My traveling companions were so wonderful. We were a really cohesive group and I connected with each person and enjoyed getting to know everyone of them. Our guides were fantastic and I felt like this was a very safe way to travel.

Heidi P.
2 years ago

As always with AGC trips, the camaraderie among like-minded women is what made this a stellar experience.

Mary H.
2 years ago

Our guides and their residence; our team of participants who always took what came our way and enjoyed; New Mexico and its beauty and people.

Susan C.
2 years ago

A great group of women were on this trip. Especially enjoyed the river rafting.

Suzanne S.
2 years ago

All of the different parts of New Mexico.

Michele R.
2 years ago

The opportunity to experience the natural beauty of New Mexico and to learn about the past civilizations and contributions of [Indigenous peoples] was pleasurable and enlightening.

Maria G.
2 years ago

The beauty of New Mexico. Also: the guides ability to cope with Nature's setbacks and the cooperation of the team.

Marlene L.
2 years ago

Exceeded expectations from the beautiful hikes that the guides picked for us to Chaco Canyon. How the guides worked around the closures due to fire exceeded expectations. The Ghost Ranch was awesome and the Sante Fe walking tour was an incredibly informative. The ladies on this tour gave me a sense of family and were incredibly supportive.

Kathryn M.
2 years ago

There were a variety of activities with some free time in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. The guides were very knowledgeable, engaging and hard working! Because of covid restrictions, they were forced to adapt the itinerary and did a great job of substituting fun activities. The scenery was beautiful, the weather perfect and all of the women were wonderful travel companions. I’m looking forward to another trip with AGC.

Ruth C.
3 years ago

Teri R.
3 years ago

Alma W.
3 years ago

Over and above.

Patti F.
3 years ago

Beth M.
3 years ago

I loved this trip!

Ruth W.
3 years ago

Barbra G.
3 years ago

  1. Where do we eat?

    Most breakfasts and dinners will be in restaurants where you can order off the menu. Before you start the day, the guides will put out lunch 'fixings' and you’ll take a packed lunch or occasionally lunch will be picnic style.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    We can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-intolerant although we can not guarantee a completely gluten-free diet, if we know well in advance. If you’re severely allergic or if you have other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register. If you’re vegan, you may want to bring some additional protein bars.
  3. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    You only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. Otherwise we’ll pair you up with someone and then switch roommates every time we switch lodging.

New Mexico, land of enchantment Packing list

FOOTWEAR

  • 1 pair of lightweight hiking boots or shoes
  • 1 pair of comfortable shoes for general use and after hiking.
  • 1 pair of sandals for rafting and/or kayaking
  • 2-3 pairs of wool hiking socks (some people also like to wear liner socks)

 

ADVENTURES IN GOOD COMPANY’S packing list covers everything you need to ensure your safety and comfort. You may not use everything you bring; however, you need to come prepared for all possible weather conditions. At the same time, you must be able to carry your own luggage, sometimes up and down stairs.

 

DAYPACKS: Your daypack should be large enough to hold the following items: 3 liters of water, rain gear, lunch/snacks (for the day), sunscreen, a warm layer (fleece pullover or vest), personal first aid kit, lightweight gloves, warm hat and personal items such as camera, etc. We recommend a daypack with a capacity of between 30 – 40 Liters (1800 and 2400 cubic inches) with a hip belt, padded shoulder straps, and ‘lifters’. Before you leave home, check to be sure that it is comfortable to wear all day and has sufficient space for all of your items.

 

PACK COVER: These are waterproof/resistant, usually elasticized covers designed to go over your backpack and keep both the pack and its contents dry in case of inclement weather. Pack covers are sized. If you are purchasing a pack cover, be sure to either take your pack with you or know the size cover you need. Many daypacks do come with built-in pack covers. An alternative to purchasing a pack cover is to use a heavy-duty plastic bag to line your pack to protect the contents from rain – your pack, however, will get wet using this method.

 

FOOTWEAR: Well-fitting, sturdy boots or trail shoes are very important to your safety and enjoyment. If you plan to buy new boots, break them in by wearing them around town and taking some short hikes before your trip. For general hiking, lightweight or midweight cordura or leather boots with a Vibram sole work well. If you have weak ankles or are recovering from an ankle injury, get boots that come above the ankle– you’ll find that this will give you more support in uneven or slippery terrain. Remember to waterproof your boots before the trip. Even boots billed as ‘waterproof’ need to be treated with a waterproofing product.

 

CLOTHING: The clothing listed on the packing list has been chosen for your specific trip conditions and for its versatility for layering. NO COTTON for your activewear! It should all be made from synthetic/synthetic blends, down/down blends, or wool/wool blends. Layering is the most practical and efficient method of insulating the body. Several layers of varied-weight materials provide better insulation than one thick layer of clothing. Also, adding or subtracting layers allows you to adjust to the temperature at your particular level of activity.

 

RAIN GEAR: You will need a parka or jacket made of coated nylon or a waterproof/breathable fabric like Gore-tex, hellytech, Membrane, H2No, or Ultrex. Be sure it keeps water out. Before making this necessary purchase, be sure that it fits you properly. It should be large enough to fit over all your layers. In particular, the hood needs to be effective. It should shield your face from the rain and turn with your head. Movement of your arms must not interfere with the hood. Put on your daypack; can you still raise your arms? Your wind/rain pants should be comfortable, allow enough room for your layers, and permit free movement of your legs. Partial or full-length leg zippers are helpful for easily putting your pants on over your boots.

 

HYDRATION: Being able to easily access your water without assistance so that you can drink frequently is important to your safety and enjoyment. One method is to have a water bottle attached to your waist strap. Another option is to use a HYDRATION SYSTEM such as Camelbak, Platypus, and MSR bladder bags, which are collapsible water bags with a hose attachment that you drink from. The bags fit inside or outside your pack with the hose positioned over your shoulder so that you can access your water as you hike. Bladder bags can hold 1 - 3 liters of water.

 

PERSONAL FIRST AID KIT: Bring a small first aid kit with familiar medicine and first aid supplies you might need. Recommendations include the following: blister or foot remedies like moleskin, Compeed, blister bandages, a small roll of duct tape (always helpful!), and personal medications. The guides will have a first aid kit, but having what you know works well for you is a good idea. Please note:Individuals who have had or have the potential for a severe allergic reaction to insect stings, specific foods or medications must bring an epi-pen.Please consult your physician and tell your guide.

 

TREKKING POLES: Trekking poles are required for this trip. Trekking poles contribute to your safety by improving your balance and stability and to your health by saving stress on your hips and knees. If you are not familiar with trekking poles, read this blog post that addresses the most commonly asked questions: Trekking Poles for Hiking Trips: The 4 Most Common Questions

 

Disclaimer: This packing list features some affiliate links. This means AGC gets a small commission if you make a purchase (at no extra cost to you). Thank you for the support!

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