Yes, summer in Santa Fe means heading up the mountain to jockey for a parking space and hit a National Forest trail. But this year, staying in the city is more in order. People who live in the town of Pecos are begging us to stop coming there in droves while COVID-19 has resources stretched thin and public health danger remains. There's plenty to see a little closer to home, where you can explore your own 'hood.
Southside and Out
Two of the most well connected parts of Santa Fe's network of paved walking and biking trails cross on the city's Southside, allowing for miles and miles of travel that's mixed with playtime. Did you know the Arroyo Chamiso trail links to the new apartments in Las Soleras and over to the Santa Fe Outlets to the west and all the way to St. Michael's Drive near St. Vincent's hospital on the east?
Riders, walkers and, we guess, runners if you're into that, can also catch the Rail Trail that runs north and south. It's paved from downtown to Rabbit Road, but after that, one not only crosses out of the city limits but into a wildlife corridor. Walk or ride all the way to the community college by catching the gravel spur that splits off a couple miles south.
It's not just the marked trails that are worth walking on. We found a new Little Library near our house on a recent quest, too. Are there any new wildflowers this week on the edge of the arroyo? Learning the names and seasons of things that grow around us has never been easier thanks to the smartphone, and we've spotted a dozen of types of wildflowers on a single mile along the Rail Trail.
Diving off the trails, take a slow walk around the parks. Have you seen the current public art at Ragle Park off Zia or the new park in the Oshara subdivision? The latter is also home to the Pantry Two to ease the restaurant blues.
The Railyard Arts Bonanza
Though it's technically locked behind an imposing chainlink fence at the moment, the former Alvord School on Paseo de Peralta just past the Railyard boasts a well-preserved three-panel group mural painted in 1995 through a project with the CCA Warehouse (which later became Warehouse 21).
"You can see the one on the end shows when the circus came to town," neighborhood advocate Rick Martinez told us from a responsible 6 feet away, "and that big one in the middle, that's the Chile Line train."
Surrounding small squares feature multi-cultural folks from the neighborhood and other ephemera. Martinez, who's been a vocal opponent of losing the mural on the side of the soon-to-be Vladem Contemporary wing of the New Mexico Museum of Art, says he helped advocate for rezoning the Railyard-adjacent 'hood in 2001. Developers can't build whatever they wish according to Martinez, though he's concerned Alvord might become condos once COVID-19 subsides.
Just up the street lies the sadly dormant Warehouse 21 and its dense layers of graffiti, both professional and not. You could easily spend an hour finding bits and pieces to love while circling the building, and just across the street, the LewAllen Galleries has reopened for masked art viewing. Across the Railyard Plaza, find Blue Rain, Evoke and Charlotte Jackson, all of which might take a hand or two to block out the sun, but have plenty to see from the street even during off hours, while the view of the Sangre de Cristos looms. Nearby, SITE Santa Fe has outdoor viewing options as well.
A short jaunt down St. Michael's Drive lies a 64-acre carcass of higher education: the Midtown campus. It's been in the news recently as the city moves to redevelop, and parts of the campus are still in use. Still, much of it also lies vacant, offering a glimpse into a post-apocalyptic world wherein people disappeared and left behind hubristic monuments to our attempts at civilization.
The most impressive is the Fogelson Library, a Brutalist bastion of books that at once resembles a temple, a prison and a factory—it deserves a long walk-around even as it remains inaccessible to the public.
Deeper on campus, a mural by artist Shephard Fairey dominates the scene, a red, black and white portrait of a woman emblazoned with the phrase "Make Art, Not War." Fairey's famous for his "OBEY" line of fashion and for designing Obama's 2008 "Hope" campaign poster.
Last, in the northwest corner, find the Santa Fe Art Institute offering thematic artists' residencies and advocating for people and art-centered development. Catch the vibe while you can—big change is coming.