Above: Learn where you can hike during the winter without gaiters or snowshoes. Illustrations by Ryan Johnson.
Church Rock Trail, Red Rock Park
The spire of Church Rock rises above Gallup’s Red Rock Park, home to the annual Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial and the Red Rock Balloon Rally. The landmark trek is a moderate, 2.6-mile lollipop past paprika-colored cliffs. The well-marked trail follows cairns (stacked-rock trail markers) across the desert and slickrock (nmmag.us/redrocktrails).
Alkali Flat Trail, White Sands National Monument
Hikers trade in snowdrifts for crests of white sand along this trail into the heart of the dunes at White Sands National Monument. The five-mile round-trip hike may be called “flat,” but the diamond trail markers lead over steep dunes, and the “trail” shuffles through thick sand. It’s a workout! The trail travels to the edge of the dry bed of Lake Otero, where the wind breaks apart large crystals, forming some of the monument’s dunes (nps.gov/whsa).
Dripping Springs Trail, Organ Mountains–Desert Peaks National Monument
Tumbling into the western foothills of the Organ Mountains, the trails in this network outside of Las Cruces boast both diverse plant and animal life and a fascinating history. A century ago, Confederate Civil War leader Colonel Eugene Van Patten founded the Dripping Springs Resort, where Pancho Villa once stayed. Some of its ruins still stand, along with an old tuberculosis hospital. This 2.7-mile out-and-back leads to a waterfall, though it may run dry this time of year (nmmag.us/drippingsprings).
Hoodoo Trail, Ojito Wilderness
This easy, two-mile trail crosses open country in the austere Ojito Wilderness, west of Albuquerque near San Ysidro. It wanders into a crop of hoodoos (rock spires) and other unusual formations, with dramatic striated layers of goldenrod, rust, and ivory. You can extend your walk into the surrounding wilderness, but otherwise your biggest challenge will be the 10 miles of weathered dirt road to get there (blm.gov/visit/ojito-wilderness-area).