Cyclists will find a peaceful ride in the shade of cottonwoods on a trail that winds through the Rio Grande Bosque near Corrales. Intermediate and advanced riders can explore Guacamalla and Paliza Canyons. www.newmexico.org/true-outdoors.
Sandoval County is the perfect destination for those who love the outdoors and enjoy fishing. San Pedro Parks Wilderness is home to native cutthroat trout. Fenton Lake offers picnic areas, wheelchair accessible platforms and even ice fishing in the winter. San Antonio Creek offers plenty of catch-and-release fishing opportunities. Fly-fishing enthusiasts can enjoy the Rio Cebolla in the Jemez Mountains. Visitors are welcome at Seven Springs Fish Hatchery near Jemez. The Ice Pond is stocked and open to children 12 and younger and adults 65 and older. At Cochiti Lake, catch catfish, crappie, bass, bluegill and perch. The Sandia Lakes Recreation Area offers several ponds stocked with trout and other fish. www.wildlife.state.nm.us.
There are plenty of options throughout the county, with a variety of amenities, difficulty levels and breathtaking views. Santa Ana Golf Course has a challenging layout and an unmatched view of the Sandia Mountains. Nearby Twin Warriors Golf Course is part of the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa. Cochiti Golf Course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Junior and Club Rio Rancho Golf is popular with the locals as well as guests. www.newmexico.org/golf.
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument provide one-of-a-kind hiking experiences amongst rocks formed by ancient volcanic eruptions. Santa Fe National Forest hikes are as plentiful and diverse as the life zones of the forest. With so many elevations and habitat types, there is year-round access to hiking trails in the forest. Popular hikes include Battleship Rocks, Jemez Falls, Las Conchas Trail, McCauley Hot Springs, San Pedro Parks trails and Dome Wilderness. (www.fs.usda.gov/santafe). The Sandia Mountains, close to Albuquerque and Placitas, offer a convenient chance to connect with nature. www.fs.usda.gov/cibola.
HOT AIR BALLOONING
Year-round hot air ballooning in Sandoval County includes competitive events the third weekend of every month sponsored by Top Gun, the local division of the Balloon Federation of America. The Albuquerque Erostat Ascension Association hosts the Friends and Lovers Rally in February (the weekend before Valentine's Day) as well as the Jingle Bell "Non Rally" in December. Our neighbor and partner, the City of Albuquerque, is host to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, the world's largest, held annually in October.
There's more than 30 million acres of public lands open to hunting in New Mexico, with a comparable amount of private land also available. The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish publishes the annual Proclamation of Big Game and Furbearer Seasons in late January or early February with specifics for hunters. A current list of active outfitters or guides can be obtained from New Mexico Council of Outfitters and Guides, www.nmoutfitters.com or by calling 505.522.9845. Hunting is also allowed on certain tribal lands. Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife, 928.871.6451.
Jeep tours are for the adventurous traveler who wants to explore our history, culture and land. Tours are guided and personalized and can include seeing ancient petroglyphs, wild horses, and Spanish ruins. Photography tours are available. www.nmjeeptours.com.
RIO RANCHO SPORTING OPTIONS
At 5,290 feet above sea level, Rio Rancho offers a mild, high desert climate perfect for sporting events and outdoor adventures year-round. It is New Mexico's fastest growing city with a vast array of scenery, culture, sporting venues and nearby attractions. Visit the hub of organized sports and recreation for bowling, swimming, golfing, dancing, tennis, skating, soccer and more. Be sure to check out the Rio Rancho Aquatics Center and the Ice Skating Rink. If you're in the mood for bowling, visit Tenpins & More or Starlight Bowling Center at Santa Ana Star Center. The New Mexico Soccer Tournament Complex boasts 22 international sized fields, is one of the largest of its kind in the country, and has hosted many prestigious youth and adult tournaments. The west side has great activities at Club Rio Rancho, such as golf, tennis and swimming. There's fine dining, live music and dancing when you're ready to wind down.
The gentle waters of the Rio Grande offer family-friendly adventures like kayaking, floating or paddleboarding. Spring is a great time to take a guided trip with Quiet Waters Paddling Adventures. You can sail, windsurf and swim at Cochiti Lake, which is popular year-round.
Forest areas throughout the Santa Fe National Forest, including wilderness areas, are open to Nordic skiing and snowshoeing. Generally, the higher the elevation, the better the snow. An easy 2ó mile loop trail starts near Redondo Campground in the Jemez, but cross-country aficionados will thrive in the challenging San Pedro Parks Wilderness Area or the open space at Valles Caldera. Telemark skiers can practice on the west side of Corral Canyon and Upper San Antonio Canyon. Try the open mountain trails on the east side of San Antonio Creek. www.newmexico.org/ski.