The sweetest two words in the English language? Summer afternoon. So said author Henry James, and who dares disagree? Picnic season is officially here, and fair New Mexico abounds with opportunities to partake of a basket of delectables beneath the bluest skies and the starriest nights.
Big doings at Castañeda Hotel in Las Vegas: Chef Sean Sinclair has officially opened Bar Castañeda from 3-10 p.m. every day but Sunday, with a “slew of tacos” and a sensational smash burger to accompany your adult beverage of choice. And his Kin restaurant is poised for a “late June” opening as of press time, presenting a chef’s tasting menu that will change weekly. Visit castanedahotel.org.
With more than 40 hot-air balloons, and all the glowing color we love about balloon fiestas, plus chairlift rides, Balloons Over Angel Fire lifts off over the Moreno Valley June 14-16. Sail over to balloonsoverangelfire.com.
Is your inner mountain man or gal yearning to get out? The Annual Santa Fe Trail Rendezvous will be held June 9-15, sponsored by the NRA Whittington Center in Raton. Experience re-creation of the pre-1840s mountain man fur trade era on the Santa Fe Trail. Period dress required in camp after 6 pm. Cooking and costume contests include a period dress contest, an authentic cooking contest, a primitive camp contest, a dessert-cooking contest, and the ma and pa egg-cooking contest. Admission is free. Head to crazycrow.com.
Celebrate the Summer Solstice with a sunrise observation at Aztec Ruins National Monument in Aztec. This free program begins at 5:30 a.m. June 21-22 and includes a ranger-led program on solar alignment and its importance within the Ancestral Puebloan culture. Visit nps.gov or call 505.334.6174 for details.
And what dad wouldn’t love a trip on the rock train for Father’s Day? The popular Cumbres & Toltec Geology Train offers morning tour departures from Antonito, Colo., and Chama June 16. The 64-mile journey is led by Peter W. Lipman, emeritus scientist for the U.S. Geological Survey. Lunch is included in ticket price. Sounds like a blast! Chugga-chugga on over to cumbrestoltec.com.
If you haven’t been out to Inscription Rock in a while, you may be surprised by all the activity at El Morro on N.M. 53. Love, love Ancient Way Café’s homecooking, especially the house-made pastrami Reuben sandwich and scrumptious desserts, plus the coffee next door at Inscription Rock Trading Post and zany Meow Wolf-style art at Old School Gallery. The cafe is part of the El Morro RV Park and Cabin’s complex, elmorro-nm.com. A highly recommended Sunday drive.
Following its extensive renovation and two-year closure, Western New Mexico University’s Fleming Hall in Silver City re-opened in May. This campus museum is the home of the NAN Ranch Collection—the largest and most complete collection of prehistoric Mimbres materials excavated from a single site, and the home of the largest, permanent, interpretative exhibition of Mimbres pottery and artifacts in the world. Admission is free.
I’m still crazy after all these years about the Black Range Lodge Bed & Breakfast in Kingston. Those massive stone walls have housed miners and cavalry and hold stories a-plenty. Breakfast features preserves and baked goods made with fruit raised in the orchard and eggs from chickens clucking out back. Owner Catherine Wanek has created an otherworldly destination getaway deep in the heart of New Mexico on the edge of the Gila National Forest. This summer’s Starlight Concert series adds to the delight. On June 15, singer/songwriter Randy Granger performs with Native American flute, percussion and guitar. Picnics are encouraged; concert begins at 7 p.m. Wine and beer are available from Black Range Vineyards. More at blackrangelodge.com.
If you’re heading south, don’t miss the Arrey Cafe, maybe the most inconspicuous eatery you ever saw, in a doublewide in Arrey, 25 miles south of Truth or Consequences. You know when they bring out the squeeze bottle of salsa and loaded basket of fresh chips this is going to be good. Farmers and field workers are feasting on local beans and chile. Green chile cheeseburger or chile rellenos? That is a tough call. There are fresh donuts every morning and a Friday night ribeye special. After lunch, you can follow N.M. 187 down along the Rio Grande through the chile fields all the way to Las Cruces. Find Arrey Cafe on Facebook.
The Rio Grande runs through it. Only an hour south of Albuquerque, off I-25 exit 169, the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, the state’s largest, has four biomes—desert, prairie, shrub and woodland—as well as five miles of riparian area and eight miles of trails, from easy to challenging. Go early, because shade is minimal, and that’s also when you can see the Gambel’s quail and roadrunners and enjoy maximum serenity. Forever views of mountains and desert landscapes. Free. Visit fws.gov.
Feel free to send me suggestions about the places you love at email@example.com. See you on the road.
SE – Rocking Route 66 Jun 27, Tucumcari
White Sands- tour of Lake Lucero