I’ve watched color fill the skies overhead wherever I’ve traveled but I believe Santa Fe’s palette rivals them all. Our low-profile, adobe architecture offers the ideal skyline for the celestial creations in our clean, mountain air. With no humidity or bugs, we can linger outside to our hearts content. The sun’s dawn through dusk performances make life in Santa Fe feel just about perfect.
Rose-colored Glasses Not Needed Here
Ever notice that historic cities all have one place that’s been welcoming travelers for ages? In Santa Fe that place is La Fonda on the Plaza. With its Harvey girl history, dedicated, local ownership, and storied Plaza location, La Fonda has hosted starlets, diplomats, family reunions and everything in between. And as soon as weather permits, it’s time to ride the elevator up to the Bell Tower Bar.
Meeting atop La Fonda’s Pueblo-style edifice means you can admire the western sky from one of Santa Fe’s most spot-on sunset perches. It’s heavenly to sip a Bell Ringer Margarita, nibble on Hatch green chile sliders and watch the sun slip slowly beyond the city’s horizon.
Howl for the Moon Not to Come Too Soon
Rooftop roundups are a tradition wherever weather is wonderful and Santa Fe meets the climate requirement with ease. So it’s no surprise the Coyote Cantina is a summer go-to for locals. Fantastic food? Check! Creative cocktails? Check! Convivial crowd? Of course! Add in streaks of magenta and gold across the sky and, well, you get the picture.
You can pair jalapeno shooters or a cool cerveza with Baja-style fish tacos. The black sesame, honey white shrimp act as the perfect accomplice for a Señorita Margarita. I have yet to try the $100 margarita but a 100-year-old Grand Marnier sounds worthy of sunset’s extravagantly rich hues.
The Santa Fe Sun Gives a Great Performance
The multitude of colors in a Santa Fe sunset meets its match with the multitude of voices at the Santa Fe Opera. There’s nothing like combining nature’s glorious handiwork with that of Handel or Hindemith. And there’s nothing like the state-of-the-art outdoor theatre where you can catch the best of both. I recommend getting to the opera early to avoid that I’m-afraid-we’ll-miss-the-overture feeling, since once the music begins patrons aren’t seated until the first real break.
If you’re an early bird, relax over a tailgate party. Pick up a picnic to go (I‘m partial to ample salads from Vinaigrette paired with a bottle of New Mexico’s own Gruet Brut) or order a picnic in advance from the Opera’s catering partner, Bon Appetit. You can also opt for a preview dinner, which comes with wine and an informative dessert course talk about the performance. As you settle into your seat, nature’s skyscape solo welcomes the conductor to the podium. The sunsets are guaranteed to be just as dramatic as any final act.
Sometimes the sun’s parting note is best relayed through a messenger. That’s when I turn to Santa Fe Walkabouts for a sunset tour. Weather permitting, Walkabouts’ open-air off-road Pinzgauer vehicle winds up a scenic dirt road and deposits you in a green mountain grove. From there an easy hike takes you to memorable vistas, with fresh mountain breezes and rustling aspens creating a beautiful backdrop. This three-hour adventure will linger in your mind long after the sun’s lengthy farewell.
Santa Fe Knows Sunsets…and Sunrises Too
I love it when the birds start chirping early because they wake me up with enough time to admire the morning’s colors. Early-to-rise days find me watching the sun peek over the Sangre de Cristo range at the Cross of the Martyrs. Erected in 1920 to commemorate 21 Franciscan friars slain during the 1680 Pueblo revolt, the Cross also provides a bit of early morning exercise via a climb up the steps to the hilltop.
I feel close to history and fortunate to live here as I survey the city awakening below. And the easy access means I can end the day with sunset views in the exact same spot.
The Frank Ortiz Dog Park is one of my secret haunts for greeting the sun early or late.
The dog-lovers are a friendly bunch and it’s a snap to get there in time to watch the sky change color. The dog-less are just as welcome to see the sun come up or go down in this 360-degree location. A car to get there and two legs for an easy stroll do the trick.
Don’t Let the Sun Rise or Set without a Visit to Santa Fe
The sun has been a generous friend to Santa Fe, giving us a gorgeous setting for centuries. With more than 300 days of sun per year, days of sun, sunrises and sunsets galore are guaranteed.
Make tracks for the City Different but make sure your camera is fully charged - I promise your Santa Fe picture album will be colored in every hue.