In a city of dog lovers, your furry friend is welcome almost anywhere. When a walk along one of our paths or trails isn't a big enough energy release for your pet, let our dog parks come to the rescue.

The largest two parks—one located on the east side about 10 minutes from downtown and the other 8 miles west of downtown, off Highway 599—provide freedom from leash laws, water for your dog and social opportunities for both of you. Both places tend to be popular in the late afternoon to early evening.

The Frank S Ortiz Park (160 Camino de las Crucitas) is a place where you can appreciate the beautiful high-desert scenery and get your own exercise while your dog runs free. The 135-acre open space is unfenced, with dirt trails that climb toward expansive views of the city and also descend toward an arroyo near the park's border. Piñon and juniper trees provide shelter for bunnies but don't offer you any respite from our strong sun.

Often, friendly dogs mingle near the parking lot, playing together while owners chat and enjoy the fresh air. A small playground is situated next to the park's entrance, a couple of minutes from the Solana Shopping Center off East Alameda. The park closes at 10 pm.

If your pooch is a wanderer, check out our fenced-in parks on the campus of the Santa Fe Animal Shelter & Humane Society (100 Caja del Rio Road) near the Municipal Recreational Sports Complex. The 7-acre community dog park on the left side of the entrance has plenty of room for dogs to roam freely.

Some people walk the crushed-rock trail that circles the park while others sit on the benches in the shade of a portal at the park's entrance. The regulars are a friendly bunch. There's something about watching the dogs' antics that sparks fun conversations and a genial spirit.

To the right side of the entrance is a smaller, fenced park for littler critters—those who weigh less than 30 pounds.

If your dog isn't into meeting friends, you can check with the shelter about its three dog parks that are reserved for single use. All of the parks on this campus close at 6 pm.

The city of Santa Fe has designated a few other small parks as leash-free. These options are more for dogs, rather than exercise opportunities for you:

Salvador Perez Park (601 Alta Vista St.), behind the recreation complex; Villa Linda Dog Park (4250 Cerrillos Road), a fenced-in area next to our mall's playground at Santa Fe Place; Sierra del Norte Dog Park (1800 Hyde Park Road), where you must have your dog leashed on the trail.

 Do’s and Don’ts

  • Your dog must have an up-to-date rabies vaccination and a license.
  • Your dog should be spayed or neutered if older than five months.
  • Leave if your dog acts aggressively toward others.
  • Don’t leave your dog unattended.
  • Use the doggie bags and trash cans to pick up after your pooch.
  • Bring a leash, just in case you need to play cowboy and
    lasso ’em up.