‘Fall’ in Love with Santa Fe

View from Aspen Vista Trail, Santa Fe

“Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.”
― Yoko Ono

Autumn in Santa Fe is a special time of year. The pace of the city slows as the warm summer nights turn to cool evenings around the fire, and the bright green leaves change to stunning jewel tones of gold and red. Local chile farmers line the blocks flame roasting their harvest in preparation for a season full of warm stews and spicy enchiladas. The tourists that packed the town for the many summer festivals have returned home, and the adobe streets are once again filled with warm familiar faces. Fall is simply one of my favorite times of the year! It offers me solace from the busy summer and time to reconnect with all the reasons I fell in love with the City Different in the first place. So, I’ve gathered my thoughts and unpacked my sweaters to bring you some of this season’s highlights – from a locals perspective. Cheers!

Some Like it Hot

Finding the right green Chile is key to a successful fall and winter season.  Most people don’t know that New Mexico Green Chile comes in many varieties, and finding the one that entices your palate is as important to local Santa Feans as not overcooking the Thanksgiving turkey!

TIP #1: Know the varieties:

  • “NM#20″ – this is the mildest of the New Mexico peppers, which makes it a great starting point for novice chile lovers.
  • “Big Jim” – the heat is medium and the pepper is large, making it ideal for rellenos and burgers.
  • “Sandia” (my favorite)-  this pepper is smaller in size and packs some serious heat! Perfect for stews and enchiladas.
  • “X-Hot” – not for the weak, this pepper is hot, hot, hot!
  • “DoubleX” – need I say more?

TIP #2: Try Before You Buy

Ask your local roaster what varieties they’re selling and request a sample to ensure you get exactly what you want. Not finding your match? Ask friends and family who their favorite roaster is. Most Santa Feans return to the same station year after year. I go to the station at St. Francis and Zia in the Albertson’s parking lot. The best part is, they’ll cook up a fresh roasted chile and tortilla on the spot for your immediate enjoyment!

Flame Roasting New Mexico Green Chile


Cooking for the Season

I love to cook, and using seasonal ingredients is a must! The year round Santa Fe Farmer’s Market makes this a breeze with markets held every Tuesday and Saturday. Check out their seasonal crop calendar to see what’s on the menu each month: http://farmersmarketinstitute.org/go/seasonal/

Shishito Peppers from last week’s Farmer’s Market!

 Up Up and Away!

Heading down the hill to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is a MUST for me! The experience of getting  up before dawn, bundling up in a cozy fall sweater, and awaking my senses with hot-cocoa and a breakfast burrito while watching the sunrise against a colorful silhouette of  thousands of hot air balloons lifting off into the morning sky is simply magic!

Not into the 4 am call time for the morning mass ascension? No fret, the evening Balloon Glow and Special Shapes Rodeo are thrilling experiences as well. These events tend to have a little less traffic so parking at the balloon fiesta park is actually realistic. From stunning butterflies to humorous pigs, ducks and cows, the Special Shapes Rodeo will lift even the grinches spirits. And if you’re a real night owl, stick around after sunset to catch the afterglow fireworks show!

Thumbs up for the ABQ Balloon Fiesta!

The Art of Fall 

Locals know that fall is the best time to experience Santa Fe’s renowned art scene. With over seven studio tours between September and November, the weekly Santa Fe Artisan Market, the Canyon Road Paint Out, and the acclaimed winter Indian Market, autumn is the season for expanding your art collections. I love meeting the artists in their studio or along Canyon Road, and there’s nothing that connects me to the art more than seeing a piece finished first hand. All these wonderful events can be found on SantaFe.org – a great resource for finding things to do in the City Different.

Colorful Aspen Vistas

The changing Aspen vistas are symbolic to Northern New Mexico, and offer one of the most spectacular shows of  the season. During early October the vibrant golds and reds can be seen from town. But, I suggest getting up close because the Santa Fe National Forest boasts some of the most captivating viewing spots in country. Just a quick 30 minute drive to the Aspen Vista Trail head or Santa Fe Ski Basin will put you right in the midst of all the glory. Make sure to bring your camera – you won’t want to miss this photo opp!

Another amazing way to experience the majestic scenery of fall is aboard the historic Cumbres & Toltec train which runs September 24 – 29th. Click here for details. 

TIP: The leaves change quickly and before you know it they have all fallen and winter is upon us. If you find yourself saying “I’ll do it next weekend,” stop, clear your schedule and go. This is definitely a DON’T MISS event for fall!

Check out the map below showing optimal viewing times for each New Mexico region.

Provided by New Mexico Tourism Department – NewMexico.org

A Lasting Tradition 

As fall winds down, I’m reminded of my childhood growing up in Tulsa, OK. Every fall we would gather in Utica square for the annual lighting of the trees. In my adolescence this experience marked the beginning of christmas season…and presents. As an adult, the tradition has been redefined by joyful encounters with my friends, family and neighbors. During the annual Christmas Tree Lighting, held every November on the historic Santa Fe Plaza, the community gathers to celebrate and honor this historic tradition. I always come prepared with hot -totties and spiced wine for the festivities!

Tree Lighting on the Plaza. Photo credit: SantaFe.org

I hope you enjoy this beautiful season. Here’s to celebrating lasting fall traditions and making new memories in Santa Fe!