Santa Fe’s Colorful Skies & Outdoor Adventures Are A Day’s Drive Away

A family of five hits the highway for relaxation and respite

By Lauren Smith Ford
Photographs courtesy of the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado
Santa Fe Travel

One hundred and thirty-eight days into quarantine, it was time – time to leave our bubble and hit the open road. Every member of our family of five – including the youngest, a 6-month-old baby girl – needed a change of scenery (and cooler temperatures). So before sunrise in early August, with our SUV fully packed with snacks, a picnic lunch, road trip games and all the crafting materials and electronics we owned, we set out on our estimated 11-hour journey, bound for Santa Fe, New Mexico, with a safe plan in place. There was a palpable excitement in the air, but also some anxiety about how our stops along the way would go in the new normal of COVID times.

I had studied the safety precautions of several hotels at our final destination and nothing compared with the level of detail of the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado in Santa Fe’s plan. Nestled in the Sangre de Cristo foothills on 57 acres and only 10 miles from downtown Santa Fe, the resort features 65 casita-style rooms that are spread out across the property and, at this moment in time, capped at 50 percent capacity. After temperature checks and a contactless check-in, the comfortable rooms bedecked in chic Southwestern textiles and stunning art pieces that hung on stucco walls were a welcome respite from the highway. An extra bonus was that our room was outfitted with a private porch and outdoor fireplace, as an added intimate space to enjoy the outdoors.

The pool was open for lap swimming by reservation, so we divided and conquered, with a dip in the pool for some and a hike along the trail for others (the trail can be accessed from the property and boasts gorgeous views of the surrounding landscape). We reconvened on our porch to watch one of the Land of Enchantments epic sunsets over a delicious dinner of savory enchiladas with green chile sauce and asadero cheese. The evening was made even more special for the little ones with their own mini-white robes and a selection of shampoos and bubble baths just for them. And because the staff had checked in with us through the handy Four Seasons app before our arrival, a crib was all ready for the baby when bedtime was upon us. 

© Christian Horan / Four Seasons

Due to COVID, the resort’s Adventure Center was closed, but nonetheless we made mental notes on how to best take advantage of its offerings on our next visit: No doubt guided whitewater rafting, mountain biking, horseback riding, and fishing would await in Summer 2021. While we couldn’t maximize outdoor adventure, thankfully we could still enjoy the resort’s dining options. In what was our first restaurant experience in months, we enjoyed the beautifully appointed outdoor courtyard at Terra, where we enjoyed shrimp tacos and blue-corn-crusted trout, the best of New Mexican fare. The whole experience felt as safe as could be.

We spent our last night at the Encantado gathered around the fireplace making smores, the components of which had been delivered to our room in kid-friendly kits with all the necessary tools included. As the sky turned orange again and we enjoyed the live music coming from the restaurant, it was as though we all shared a collective sigh as things felt back to normal again, even just for a few moments.

© Peter Vitale / Four Seasons

Need a Schoolcation?

We are tempted to make a fall getaway back to the Encantado because of their new “Back-to-School” program. A spacious meeting room has been transformed into a physically distanced classroom for kids to use for remote learning. There is even an arts and crafts “Creative Corner” set up with an array of art and learning supplies like easels and DIY creative kids. For guests who need a quiet place to work, a separate casita is provided complimentary. Follow along with what the Encantado has planned for the holiday season here.

More ideas for adventure out west:

Need more space in Santa Fe? There are so many stylish abodes to choose from, but we particularly love this three-bedroom adobe-style rental that offers views of the mountains from a porch you will never want to leave.

© Christian Horan / Four Seasons

Just under three hours north of Santa Fe is the charming Colorado town of Pagosa Springs. At the base of the Continental Divide, its downtown is centered around the beautiful San Juan River. Float the river, take a soak in the mineral hot springs pools, or grab a snack and a latte from the Texan-owned Root House Coffee + Shop. Stay at the Springs Resort & Spa, or pick from one of the many vacation rentals, like the DoubleNook Lodge, which we found just south of town.

On our next drive from Texas to Colorado, we will be pulling over at Doves Rest Resorts for sweeping views of the majestic Palo Duro Canyon.


Read More From the Fall 2020 Issue


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