Santa Fe has been around for more than four hundred years, making it America’s oldest state capital. As a result, the city has a long and colorful history. But more importantly, there are oodles of pet friendly things to do in Santa Fe! It would be easy to spend a couple of days exploring the city, and then several more days doing day trips in the area.
Our first order of business was to get reacquainted with Santa Fe’s gorgeous downtown. The “Walk Santa Fe” map from the visitors center helped us our bearings and highlighted some of the up-and-coming neighborhoods in the city.
It’s an easy walk from The Railyard, with it’s hip hangouts and food trucks, over to the Plaza, and then on to galleries on Canyon Road. Along the way you’ll be dazzled by the variety of architecture, lush green spaces, and superb window shopping opportunities.
Take some time to enjoy the tranquility of the Plaza. If you’re lucky, there will be a street fair or farmer’s market going on!
And, just off the Plaza, don’t miss the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi – the patron saint of animals. Though pets aren’t allowed in the building, take turns stepping inside to admire the stained glass windows that were shipped from France when the Cathedral was constructed.
From there, make your way to Canyon Road where nearly 80 of the city’s 250 art galleries are located – many with outdoor exhibits. Some even allow pets inside … just be sure to ask before entering. And from Canyon Road, you’re just a couple blocks from Alameda Street where you can stroll back to town though the lovely park along the Santa Fe river.
Of course, Ty and Buster have always preferred trails to sidewalks. And we found no shortage of great hiking options within a few miles of downtown! Just off Upper Canyon Road we caught the Dale Ball Trails and headed up Picacho Peak for a great view of the surrounding area.
This 22-mile trail system can also be accessed from Hyde Park Road and gives you the quickest access to the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains from the city. (Note: The trails on the north side of Upper Canyon Road are pet friendly, and those on the south side are not.)
We also enjoyed sections of the 17-mile Santa Fe Rail-Trail, which begins in The Railyard downtown and continues along the train tracks through El Dorado to Lamy. But the boys’ favorite adventure – by far – was driving up to the ski basin in the Santa Fe National Forest, where there was still snow on the ground!
We made this special trip on Buster’s birthday, because the two things he loves most in the world are snow and squeaky balls. We were able to bring the two together to make his day extra special. Ty even got in on the fun!
No matter what time of year you visit, the drive to Santa Fe Ski is well worth your time. You’ll pass though Hyde Memorial State Park into the national forest, and both have great pet friendly hiking trails! But the piece de resistance is the view from the top!
There are a lot of popular day trips from Santa Fe. Three of the most visited attractions are Bandelier National Monument, Tent Rock National Monument, and Valles Caldera National Preserve, all of which are west of the city. Dogs are not allowed at Tent Rocks, so we skipped that stop and still found plenty to do!
At Bandelier dogs can’t go on the 1.25-mile Main Loop Trail to see the ruins of Tyuonyi Pueblo and the cliff and cave dwellings. But they can enjoy the picnic area and the trails in the surrounding Department of Energy land with you.
My suggestion is to pack a book and your lunch and take turns relaxing in the shady picnic area while the other walks back to see the ruins. Honestly, they are mesmerizing! Then, ask for a “Hiking with Dog” map at the visitors center, and get the dogs out for a little exercise.
Continuing along Hwy 4, you’ll come to Valles Caldera. This sweeping 13-mile wide valley is actually a collapsed volcano. Volcanic activity is still evident in this area, with hot springs, streams, fumaroles, natural gas seeps, and volcanic domes dotting the caldera floor.
Dogs are not allowed in the back county at Valles Caldera, but leashed dogs are welcome in the campgrounds and on the La Jara, Valle Grande, and Coyote Call trails. You can pick up trail maps at the visitors center.
After exploring Bandelier and Valles, we continued a bit further down Hwy 4 and came across the Las Conchas Trailhead in the Santa Fe National Forest. Unfortunately, it was too late in the day for us to squeeze in another hike. But this one is definitely on our list for next time!
From the Las Conchas Trail website: The trail follows the East Fork of the Jemez River, and is an easy relaxing hike through a rocky canyon in a deep conifer forest, and a series of open meadows. After about 2 miles, the trail climbs out of the canyon in a series of switchbacks. This would make a good point to retrace your route back to the trailhead.
As a pet friendly destination, Santa Fe is a fantastic choice! With all the opportunities to be outdoors, it was the perfect place to celebrate Buster’s birthday. And we hope that our paws-on-the-ground research makes your pet friendly Santa Fe vacation even more fun!
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