Discover your wild side.
Whether you like your adventures wild or mild, the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park has a path for you. Two beginner-friendly trails at the 935-acre preserve, near Las Cruces, offer a chance to learn more about the geology, plants, animals, and human history of this biologically and topographically diverse landscape. Both the paved, wheelchair-accessible Desert Experience Mini-Trail and the 1.5-mile Desert Discovery Trail include interpretive signs identifying native plants in English and Spanish as well as their scientific names. You can also make a game of your trek with a scavenger hunt to find 10 of the most common plants in the nature park. “A teacher recently told us the hunt opened up this whole new world to her,” says Stephanie Bestelmeyer, executive director at the Asombro Institute for Science Education, which offers educational programs at the park.
Explore art and culture.
Think of the Department of Cultural Affairs’ Culture Pass as your New Mexico+ bundle—one admission to 15 museums and historic sites for just $30. It serves as your 12-month ticket to the lush agricultural fields and hacienda dating back to the 1400s at Los Luceros Historic Site, in Alcalde, and Alexander Girard’s colorful collection of carvings and fanciful objects at the Museum of International Folk Art, as well as stunning examples of Indigenous art—like the glass works included in the Clearly Indigenous exhibit (through June 16)—at the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, both on Santa Fe’s Museum Hill. “Our museums and historic sites are full of hidden gems,” says Daniel Zillmann, DCA’s marketing and communications manager. “There is so much to learn.”
Connect with nature.
Dig deeper into the wonders of New Mexico’s natural surroundings with a class (or several) from Albuquerque Herbalism. “We aim to engage the community in building health and well-being,” says founder Dara Saville. “We do that by helping people to create relationships with plants and learn about the healing benefits of knowing nature.” Offering individual classes, semester-long courses, and outings to the Río Grande bosque, Saville and other experts show how to use what exists around you, such as garden herbs and medicinal plants, to help you feel your best. Upcoming classes include Medicinal Cannabis (February 26), Harvesting the Wild: A Fermentation Tour (March 19), and Edible and Medicinal Weeds (May 3). “It’s a way of living,” Saville says.
Change your outlook.
Tickle your mood pink with a halotherapy session at Santa Fe Salt Cave. Reclining in a zero-gravity chair surrounded by nine tons of Himalayan salt crystals and a ceiling of twinkly blue star lights, you may be a little shocked at how quickly you feel more positive. “Come with an open mind,” says owner Kim Rash. “It’s multifaceted in the way that it works.” Salt therapy is said to have many health benefits, from emitting negative ions that amp up your serotonin levels, which can improve your mood, to acting as anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial treatments, which can aid skin issues like acne. “Holding space for people right now is really an honor,” says Rash. “They can escape to this magical, dreamlike fairyland and get away from it all.”
Renew your spirit.
Thirteen miles down a winding, washboard dirt road and guarded by the colorful Río Chama Canyon cliffs near Abiquiú, you’ll find the peaceful escape of Monastery of Christ in the Desert. Home to Benedictine monks who follow an ancient brewing tradition in making their Monks’ Ale, the building’s architecture complements the pale red-and-orange mountains surrounding it. While the guesthouse remains closed to overnight visitors, the gift shop, art gallery, and church are open. (Conventual Mass is offered Sundays at 9:15 a.m.) With no cellphone reception and the simplicity of monastic life all around, you can meditate with the Stations of the Cross or reconnect with nature as you follow a path to the Río Chama.