Situated at the southern end of the 3,000-mile (4,800-kilometre) Rocky Mountain range, Santa Fe occupies a naturally vital site for travel across the North American continent.

Photography Photography courtesy Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

Santa Fe has been a crossroads of trade and cultures for a millennium, first for the native Pueblo Indians and then as part of Mexico, Texas and the United States.

This intersection of peoples has produced a multicultural culinary tradition unique to northern New Mexico, while the inimitable light and natural beauty of the area has long made Santa Fe a magnet for artists. The rugged landscape, nearby peaks and true four-season climate draw nature lovers who flock here for hiking, biking and skiing. The oldest capital city in the U.S. has no shortage of things to see and do.

To help you plan your Santa Fe outings, Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe has an on-site Experience Assistant who will work to help you plan your Santa Fe outings.

On your own or with a guide, here are five ways to explore the region’s nature and culture.

Downhill mountain bike tour

This three-hour outing is proven to be the single most popular guided offering in Santa Fe, and for good reason. You will be driven to nearby Ski Santa Fe, and from there take a rollicking, non-technical, mostly downhill ride on empty forest roads all the way back to the Resort.

The descent of several thousand vertical feet passes through different ecosystems with sweeping views. No need to arrive with your own equipment: High-quality, full-suspension Santa Cruz mountain bikes are provided, along with water bottles and helmets.

Culinary walking tour of Santa Fe

The highly acclaimed Santa Fe School of Cooking, in the heart of historic downtown, draws amateur and professional chefs with its array of one- to three-day cooking classes focused on the cuisine of northern New Mexico. But for most visitors, the school’s best offerings are its popular restaurant walking tours.

On a tour, visit four standout local eateries, many of them award winners, and meet privately with the chef or owner. Learn about the cuisine while you taste samples, accompanied by a complementary beer or wine.

Arguably the best food experience in the city, tours are offered most Wednesday and Friday afternoons, last three hours, and are led by the school’s chef instructors, who provide additional background and expertise.

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Tsankawi archaeological site

In addition to traces of the area’s Pueblo inhabitants, you may also encounter wildlife at Bandelier National Monument. You might spot mule deer, elk, black-tailed jackrabbits, butterflies and more along your hike.

Photography Photography Jim West / Alamy Stock Photo

Another guided offering from the Adventure Center, this moderate hike explores a less-visited but very rewarding gem hidden within Bandelier National Monument. The 1.5-mile (2.4-kilometre) trail climbs and circles a large, flat stone butte with an extensive cave network built into its sides.

The site, which is believed to have been a year-round community for the Tewa Pueblo people in the 15th century, is remarkably well preserved. Along the way you will see shards of intricately patterned pottery and pieces of obsidian from which arrowheads and blades were carved.

You can even enter and explore caves that were expanded and improved into elaborate permanent dwellings. The area is also rife with petroglyphs, or carved rock art – so much of it that even guides who have visited many times find something new on every trip.

High Road/Low Road

An unbeatable self-guided local adventure is the drive to Taos, 105 gorgeous miles (169 kilometres) northeast of Santa Fe. The most popular route is the famed High Road, which passes the historic Santuario de Chimayó – famous for its healing soil and annual pilgrimage – as well as towns known for traditional arts such as weaving (Chimayó) and wood carving (Cordova).

Taos itself is home to the famed Taos Pueblo, the 650-foot-deep (198-metre) Rio Grande Gorge, the Kit Carson Home & Museum and more than 80 art galleries. Return via the Low Road, which follows the beautiful Rio Grande through fruit orchards and past several historic pueblos. This is the ultimate day trip from Santa Fe.

Hands-On dinner

Book a hands-on dinner experience at Terra – where you can cook and plate your own meal alongside the chef.

Photography Photography courtesy Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

The Resort’s main Terra restaurant has a private chef’s table for up to 10 guests in the kitchen. While many chef’s tables simply supply a behind-the-scenes view, this you will get hands-on participation and non-stop interaction with staff. You can pick up insider culinary tips and enjoy a multi-course tasting menu with modern interpretations of New Mexican classics.

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