Santa Fe National Forest: The Aspen Vista Trail

The Aspen Vista Trail is probably the most popular trail in the Santa Fe area. The trailhead is around 14 miles from downtown Santa Fe with abundant parking, right along Hyde Park Road (NM 475) and the trail is a 5.7-mile double track to experience wide grade and wonderful views. Especially in the autumn. The elevation of the trailhead is at 10,000 feet, and if you make it to the crest of Tesuque Ridge, you’ll find yourself on the lip of a cirque at nearly 12,000 feet, well above the tree line.

The hike I’ll be describing is a much shorter excursion of about a mile, with a steep side trip along upper Tesuque Creek to a unique meadow. While the Aspen Vista Trail is open to dogs on leashes, livestock, and mountain bikers, the unmaintained path to the meadow is steep and littered with downed aspen, making it impossible for livestock and bikes. This is definitely a summer and autumn hike. Be prepared for thunderstorms from June through September.

Several years ago I was lucky enough to be invited to a butterfly census around the Fourth of July weekend, led by a local lepidopterist (the oddest things happen in Santa Fe) and the high point of the walk – literally – was a tiny meadow along upper Tesuque Creek, just off the Aspen Vista Trail. Full of flowers – and butterflies – this little rift in the forest has been a favorite place to visit over and over again, to enjoy the changing palate of wildflowers that it offers over half the year.

Although it has no formal name, for me it will always be the Butterfly Meadow. It’s a remarkable spot.
I still haven’t learned the names of all the flowers that live there. I learned three new ones this weekend alone, among which was a showy member of the mustard family that grows with its feet in the water:


Who would have guessed that a hot-tempered plant like a mustard would like a frigid mountain stream?
The first of the seductive (and poisonous) Monkshoods are unsheathing their jewel-toned cowls:

monkshood flowers

At this time the meadow is full of pale lavender Richardson geranium, bright yellow Mountain parsley, intensely red Scarlet Indian paintbrush, pink and blue Franciscan bluebells, and twinkly-white Cowbane. Deep Carmine King’s Crown is blooming along the creek, and there are plenty of Magenta Shooting Stars along the walk up the path. Nature journalists have to bring all their colored pencils this time of year!


Rock-lovers will enjoy the boulders of high-grade Gneiss that fill the meadow:

twinberry blooms

And of course – once the sun breaks out of those ominous thunderheads that have already gathered over Tesuque Ridge – the butterflies appear as if by magic:


Butterflies aren’t the only creatures that enjoy this meadow:


Having disregarded my own advice about bringing rain gear, and tempting the summer rain gods thereby, I was of course caught in the shower that came up with remarkable speed. Pellets of stinging ice were soon added, although I was spared the thrill of lightning. I crept under the dense skirts of a short Engelmann spruce that swept the ground and was immediately snug and dry in a fragrant cave where I could sit quietly and wait out the rain. In that way that nature has of offering you a treasure if you will only be quiet and receptive, toward the end of my wait I spotted a carefully hidden nest among the boughs – the work of a Hermit Thrush – with a perfect jewel lovingly set within:

hidden jewel

I wouldn’t have spotted this in a hundred chattering hikes among the spruce and aspen. It took a time of enforced quietude for me to receive this gift.

Every weekend brings a new wave of blooms and butterflies to the mountains above Santa Fe, now that summer is here. You could do no better than to take John Muir’s advice:

“Keep close to nature’s heart . . . and break clear away once in a while, climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean. . . Go to the mountains and get their glad tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”

Getting there: The Aspen Vista trailhead is clearly accessible at the eastern end of the extensive parking area along Hyde Park Road. From the Inn on the Alameda, you turn north on Paseo de Peralta, and then turn right at the light at the intersection of Paseo with Bishops Lodge Road. A second right at the next light, which is Artist Road, or NM 475, puts you on your way.

The path to the Butterfly Meadow is about 0.8 miles along the Aspen Vista walk, just after you see the sign that says “Tesuque Creek Trail” (which heads off downhill to your right). A few steps further along, you’ll see the creek flowing under the road, with the informal trail up the mountain just in front. You’ll be making a left turn and heading uphill. It’s a steep hike of about 0.2 miles, with lots – and I mean lots, after our hard winter – of downed aspen to step over, under, and around.

tesuque creek


Tasty Santa Fe Recipes from the Inn on the Alameda

When you think of travel, one of the things that pops into your mind is what you had to eat that you wish you could have again. Food is definitely one of the elements that makes a journey memorable, and sometimes just the hint of a special aroma brings you back to that place and time.

The good news is that green chile can travel back home with you easily in its frozen form. All our local markets sell it, and there are a variety of brands from which to choose, although you should believe the packaging when it is labeled “HOT.” Simply slide your frozen tub of green goodness into a Ziploc bag, slip it into your carry-on bag, and voila, it will be defrosted and ready to use when you arrive back home. Do make sure your chile is frozen, since once it liquifies, it will be confiscated by the TSA at check-in. As in all recipes, the better your ingredients, the better the results.

So, without further adieu, here’s how to make the Chilaquiles Alameda and Alameda Hashbrowns appear on your own table!

Chilaquiles Alameda

For 4 people, you will need the following:

  • 1 cup of either prepared Pico de Gallo, Red or Green Chili Sauce
  • 1 cup of Beef Chorizo
  • 1 cup of Grated Cheese (Cheddar and Mozzarella)
  • 4 Hand-Fulls of Tortilla Chips
  1. Cook the Chorizo in a pan over medium heat, add the sauce of your choice.
  2. When fully heated, add 4 handfuls of tortilla chips, break them after adding to the pan. Toss to mix, do not overcook, tortilla chips should be crispy.
  3. Heap onto individual plates topped with a cheese and a fried egg. Garnish with sliced avocado, diced onions, and a sprig of cilantro. Serve with a side of beans and sour cream.


Alameda Hash Browns

You will need the following:

  • 5 cups fresh or frozen shredded potatoes
  • 2 bunches of diced green onions
  • 8 slices of diced bacon
  • 2 cups of heavy cream
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional:
  1. Preheat oven to 350℉
  2. Mix all ingredients except the cheese
  3. Place in a 9×13 baking dish, top with cheese, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove foil and bake for 10 more minutes.
  5. Serve with your favorite chili sauce.

A Tale of Two Spanish Cities at Spring

I know both Santa Fe and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico very well. Right now spring is arriving in these mountain valley towns. Here, the beauty is so remarkable that, if you were an artist, you would be helplessly drawn to these magnetic norths of human creativity. But today I want to focus on the incredibly beautiful palate of blooming trees and flowers particular to each town. It is amazing how many species were brought to the New World from all parts of the globe, an area where trade was so driven by the markets in Europe that from there, Spain initially was the country that first brought fruits, nuts, and vegetables from most of the world. In fact, trade of any sort with any of the Americas was nonexistent until the 18th century.

At this moment the view from my terrace of San Miguel is covered in the purple-blue flowers of the jacaranda tree. This tree can grow to 50 feet and fills out as majestically as any oak I have ever seen. Each year at this time, they burst into an almost indescribably unique purple-blue flower. Not periwinkle blue, not navy, not sky blue. Jacaranda—indescribable. The Spanish brought so many things to the New World: horses, grains (like wheat, oats, and rice), and citrus (from Australia, Southeast Asia, and India). It’s hard to imagine Florida, Southern California, south Texas, and Mexico without lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits. All of this and so much more came here through the ports of Spain, in the days when New Spain held control of access to all of Latin America. But of all the treasures that came to San Miguel, the jacaranda in April is the most amazing.

In Santa Fe, European hybrid grapes for wines and brandy were brought by the monks and settlers, bulb plants of all kinds, lilacs from the Balkans, apricots from Armenia. While no single plant in Santa Fe so completely dominates the skyline (as the jacarandas do for over a month here in San Miguel), spring up north brings a veritable explosion of blossoms of every hue and every variety: lilacs, roses, wisteria, and the same for fruit trees—apricots, apples, pears, plums, and cherries.


How has Santa Fe come to possess such a wide variety of so many plants!?

It was due to an educated and brilliant French bishop named Jean-Baptiste Lamy. This Roman Catholic prelate is credited with giving Santa Fe its unique spring and summer beauty. It is an interesting story, the arrival of Bishop Lamy. After reports reached Europe that self-flagellating extremists from the Catholic Church were moving to the mountain villages of Northern New Mexico, far away from the missions, and practicing an embarrassing, pagan, ritualistic form of Catholicism, the Pope dispatched Lamy and a legion of nuns to re-Catholicize, reform, and educate the people of the Northern Provence capital of New Spain: Santa Fe. With him came huge quantities of dry-rooted plants, bushes, vines, and trees. He knew that beauty and a real feeling for the earth might serve as a small enticement for bringing the scattered flock home to existing towns such as Santa Fe.

So when you arrive at the Inn on the Alameda and have settled in, you will immediately be struck by our landscaping and its wonderful impact on the setting and property.

Welcome back to better days!

This is Joe, the proud owner of the Inn on the Alameda.

What has this past year been like? Well, kinda like waiting for Christmas, Chanukah, your birthday, and the 4th of July all rolled into one. You can add to it waiting for the bell to ring at the end of Algebra 3 class, or to get out of the dentist chair, or for school to end and summer to begin. But finally, the waiting is ending, and it could not have come sooner for me, the Inn, or Santa Fe, and I am sure for you, our great guests.

Hundreds of our daffodils and tulips have raised their heads from their beds and are already up and growing.  You can feel the lilacs, wisteria, forsythia, aspens, and rose bushes starting to wipe the sleep out of their buds. For many avid gardeners, this can actually be the most beautiful time of year, the awakening of dormant plants, and the annual return of migrating birds on vacation for the winter. Just like our hotel’s beautiful gardens and cozy rooms, a spring stay in Santa Fe is full of charm, warm sunshine, and relaxation. 

Inn on the Alameda spring

At the Inn on the Alameda, we are like family, and that’s how we treat our guests. Our loyal staff are friendly, knowledgeable, and welcoming and often develop friendships with our repeat guests.

We truly care about you and take pride in giving you an authentic — and safe — Santa Fe experience.

Through our commitment to safety as an NM Safe Certified business — combined with statewide progress — we can now consider a return to relative normalcy. A year ago I scratched my head speculating what the “new normal” would be like. Well, it appears it will just be a better old normal! America is a country founded on travel, all the way over the Atlantic from Europe and then across the Great Plains, over the Rockies, and on to the Pacific Ocean. Then centuries later, people began migrating from Asia, over the Pacific,  populating the nation on an eastern pilgrimage. We are a country of travelers, and we are itching to get out of our cocoons, spread our wings, and take off with the freedom we have grown to expect as almost our birthright. Now, every day will be safer, brighter, fresher, freer, better appreciated. So, we wait to welcome all of our regular returning guests and to meet new ones. This will be a wonderful time for all! I promise. 

We look forward to welcoming you to the Inn. Call us directly at (505) 309-4509 to plan your stay with our reservation specialists. Stay safe and see you soon!


Joe’s Blog: Love…Santa Fe Style!

Milagro HeartIn spring, a young man’s fancy turns to love. Saint Valentine himself was a martyr in ancient Rome, but it is unclear how his name became associated with “Valentine’s Day.” In 496 AD, Pope Gelasius established the Feast of Saint Valentine on February 14th as a day of remembrance of the Saint. Some of the earliest specific references to this day occur in the 14th century when Geoffrey Chaucer writes in the Parlement of Foules: “For this was on Valentine’s Day, where every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”

Shakespeare referenced Valentine’s Day in Hamlet in the early 17th century. Still, it was not until the 18th and 19th centuries in England and America that the tradition emerged of sending beautifully decorated handmade love notes to the object of one’s affection. Soon, candy, chocolate, and gifts became part of the celebration, and that was when what we now know as Valentine’s Day flourished and indeed became a “national holiday.” Unfortunately, Valentine’s Day card’s commercialization has taken the individuality and creativity out of these cards. But people young and old still love receiving a Valentine. At least I still do.

In an attempt to honor the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we have picked six unique couples from Santa Fe whose love for one another has not gone unnoticed in our beautiful and romantic city of the Holy Faith.


Jesus Rios and Teresa Gabaldon

Valentines Day Couples of Santa FeThis couple met in Santa Fe in 1934. Jesus had come up from San Jose de la Boca, Durango, Mexico when he was nine years old, and Teresa was born here on East DeVargas Street. Their love-at-first-sight romance turned into a life-long marriage of 65 years. During these happy years, they started a family of eight children, and a thriving, successful business, the Rios wood yard on Camino del Monte Sol.

There are few aspects of Santa Fe that were not touched by the Rios family who contributed significantly to the betterment of their community and the well-being of their family. Their relationship was a loving, reliable and unshakeable partnership to the end of their lives together. El Museo Cultural proudly displays a memorial to the Rios family.


Sam and Ethel Ballen

Sam and EthelSam and Ethel Ballen bought the La Fonda Hotel in 1968 and saved it from possible demolition for a parking lot. Their contributions to our City Different included vital support of SWAIA, The College of Santa Fe, The Lensic Performing Arts Center, The United Way, Santa Fe Community Foundation, St. Vincent’s Hospital, Temple Beth Shalom, The Food Depot, among many others. Their leadership in so many significant civic and charitable efforts have helped make Santa Fe what it is today.

From daughter Lenore: “Mom and Dad met in their college days. My mother, who died on 2/5/06, went to Hunter College. Dad, who died on 2/6/07, went to City College. These schools were part of the City Colleges system in New York. They got married on 7/29/45 while Dad was on leave from the service in what was a quickly planned wedding. Their marriage lasted 61 years. On one of our family trips to Alaska, in honor of Mom and Dad’s 80th birthdays, one of the people on our eco-cruise asked Dad, “ How do you stay married to someone for so long?” Dad’s reply was, “to have a short memory and a big sense of humor.” I remember Mom saying, “you have to forgive and forget.” After talking to Penina, one of my sisters, we recall our parents doing a lot of fun and adventurous activities together. They also had a huge social life. We believe that combining the principles of “forgive, forget, and humor,” with the three elements of “fun, adventure, and a great support system” help create a successful long marriage. That’s their secret.


Bill and Nancy Zeckendorf

No couple has had a larger or more significant impact on the performing arts in Santa Fe than Bill and Nancy Zeckendorf, both through their leadership, commitment, and love for the Santa Fe Opera, and their vision and creation of The Lensic Performing Arts Center. Bill’s experience and business acumen also assured the survival of both the College of Santa Fe (now known as Santa Fe University of Art & Design) and St. Vincent’s Hospital. Along with their support of countless other civic and philanthropic activities, these activities make them two of Santa Fe’s most valuable citizens.

Says Nancy: The secret of a long-married life was given to me by one of my teachers at Julliard who happened to be the mentor of Martha Graham. “It’s all good until there are two tubes of toothpaste on the sink.”

Taking that to heart, I never intruded on my husband’s space. Luckily, we were blessed with two bathrooms and lots of closets. It worked. The other important thing is to stop expecting that, “he should have done this, she should have done that.” You grow up when you stop expecting things from other people. That might also serve for sons and daughters who carry grudges too long. So Bill and I have just celebrated 50 years!”


Alex Hanna and Yon Hudson

Alex and YonIn mid-April of 2000, Alex Hanna & Yon Hudson met at A Bar (soon to become Bar B), where Yon was DJ-ing at the 40th birthday party of a mutual friend. After a brief courtship (Yon is a romantic), they began dating. Following a year that brought many significant life events (death, injury, etc.), they decided to move in together.

After eight years and many trips abroad together, Alex & Yon purchased their 1st home. In 2013, they (along with their legal team of Egolf, Ferlic & Day) became successfully involved with changing New Mexico state law, which now provides same-sex couples the right to marry.

Alex & Yon do not take this right for granted. The opportunity for ALL people to openly share their love and commitment with family & friends was a dream that seemed insurmountable only a few years ago. To be a part of such an enormous social achievement is humbling.


Lew and Susan Wallace

WallacesLew Wallace is, perhaps, best known today as the author of Ben Hur. His most relevant role for us, however, was in his position as Governor of the New Mexico Territory. A former civil war general, renowned author, world traveler, and governor of the NM territory during the Lincoln County War, Wallace himself wrote towards the end of his life of the most vivid and important memories of his life.

A full fifty years prior: “I can blow the time aside lightly as smoke from a cigar and have the return of that evening with Miss Elston, and her blue eyes, wavy hair, fair face, girlish manner, delicate person, and witty flashes to vivify it.” The great love and passion of Lew Wallace’s life was his wife.

Susan Arnold Elston was a remarkable woman. Born to a wealthy and influential East Coast family, Susan was of a literary temperament and published many popular poems. Her family disapproved of the young military suitor who was smitten by the witty and beautiful Susan. Despite this, Susan and Lew married for love.

Following Lew’s service in the Civil War, he was appointed governor of the New Mexico territory in 1878. Hired by the Eastern newspapers to send back brief sketches of life in the territory, but too busy with the administration of the territory and writing of Ben Hur, Lew delegated the job to Susan. Her articles became very popular. They were collected and illustrated by Lew and published as The Land of the Pueblos. This book remains a valuable and fascinating record of Puebloan life in the 19th century and can be read online here.

Lew was given an ambassadorship to the Ottoman Empire, and he and Susan traveled together then throughout the Middle East. She wrote several more books and was influential in exploring the ‘women’s issues’ of the period. She collaborated with Lew extensively throughout their lives, assisting him with writing and dictation. Throughout his long life, he remained in love and wrote, “What of success has come to me, all that I am, in fact, is owing to her.”


Phil and Emilie Schepps

Phil and Emilie ScheppsThese two spent many, many wonderful times in Santa Fe, visiting both their son, me, and their grandchildren Mike and Julie, as well as the countless friends of ours who they made their own. My Dad recalls visiting Bishop’s Lodge in the 1920s with his parents and 2 sisters and hiding from them when it was time to leave, as he loved it here so much. Between service in Europe and an order to report for Pacific duty in 1945, he drove through Santa Fe en route to the West Coast, stopping at Camel Rock for a striking photo when you could still stand at the very base.

Phil and Emilie met in high school in Dallas in the 1930s and fell in love immediately. But family influences drove them to marry others. Fortunately for me and my son Mike, after the 2nd World War ended, they divorced and married each other. Over the course of their more than 65-year marriage, their affection never waned. Our family business was representing some of the finest wineries and distilleries of the world, so their love of travel was a wonderful excuse to regularly visit friends and business associates in Europe and the United States. The two beautiful homes they built together in Dallas were always filled with memories, friends, and family, and these homes still stand today as exceptional examples of both 1950s and 1970s classic architectural styles. Their friendships in Dallas and around the world included people from all walks of life One important ingredient to their long and happy relationship is they also gave each other their own space. For instance, my Dad never entered a bar he didn’t like, while Mother never entered a museum she didn’t love.

Their fine taste and love of life together led them to live in St. Vincent de Cosse, France in the Dordogne Valley where they remodeled an 18th-century French farmhouse and spent 11 years enjoying the best of Southern France while entertaining countless friends and relatives from home. However, they remained Dallasites for their entire lives and even though Dad passed away in 2004, my Mother, at 99 years of age, still loves and thinks of him daily as she did when she was a high school teenager in love.

From the entire staff at Inn on the Alameda, Mike, and myself, we hope you will be our Valentine!


Joe Schepps










Sources: Spragg, Joann Montgomery County Historical Society Report on Susan Arnold Elston Wallace

The Lensic – Santa Fe’s Grande Dame

The Lensic – Santa Fe’s Grande Dame

The Lensic – Santa Fe’s Grande Dame

On June 24, 1931, alongside the beginning of the Great Depression, The Lensic motion picture “palace” opened in our fair city of just 11,000 souls.

Built by Nathan Salmon and John E. Greer, and named for Mr. Greer’s six grandchildren, the Lensic was an anagram of the first letter of each grandchild’s name. Built in the Spanish Baroque style, the Lensic’s distinct architecture has defined Santa Fe as much as John Gaw Meem’s Pueblo Revival style. She was the social center of town with her own ballroom and a stage for vaudeville acts, with a 6 musician orchestra pit.

Historic Lensic Exterior-EDIT

By the 1990’s, the wear and tear of passing decades made her look worn down. Because of Bill Zeckendorf’s vision that Santa Fe could and would support a downtown performing arts center, his wife Nancy and other civic minded Santa Feans began the arduous task of raising $9,000,000 necessary for its expansion and historic preservation. Without the foresight and shared vision of Alexis Girard and her family, the Lensic Board would have never been able to eventually own the theater, a critical requirement for philanthropic support.

View from Stage

Throughout the years, this “wonder theater of the Southwest” hosted performers as diverse as Chet Grass and his Frontier Knights Orchestra to vaudeville shows with skimpily clad dancing girls like Maria Y Sable. When the Lensic premiered Santa Fe Trail in 1940, Roy Rogers Errol Flynn, Ronald Reagan and Olivia de Haviland all were in attendance. In 1934, Claudette Colbert appeared at the premier of Cleopatra, a young Judy Garland performed here, Rudy Valle crooned, and for the 1982 film festival, Lillian Gish, Ray Bolger, Gene Kelly and Ginger Rogers smiled, blew kisses and danced across the stage.


With this sort of history, most of our citizens felt the Lensic had to be one of the finest performing arts centers in America. The Lensic Performing Arts Center opened on April 22, 2001 featuring violinist Pinchas Zuckerman, Marc Neikrug, David Grusin and Eddie Daniels among many others, including a hundred National Dance Institute students performing on stage.

Future Voices of New Mexico Awards 2016

The Lensic was off and running, creating in the past 20 years countless diverse community oriented programs including dance, voice, musical, theatrical performances and lecture series.


Santa Fe is a city whose citizens pine with love for all the performing arts, and the Lensic is one of the major pillars supporting our City Different’s unique position in our land. The foresight of Nathan Salmon and E. John Greer, along with the drive and determination of the Zeckendorfs and Alexis Greer Girard, plus countless donors, big and small, including the State of NM and the City of Santa Fe, gave us this bountiful gift.  Any trip to Santa Fe should include a visit to the Lensic for a performance or two. Before your visit to the Inn on the Alameda, check out for a list of the coming attractions and get your tickets early. The Lensic is truly a gem in the crown of the Performing Arts in New Mexico, and is fortunately located right here in Santa Fe.


Santa Fe National Forest: The Aspen Vista Trail The Aspen Vista Trail is probably the most popular trail in the Santa Fe area. The trailhead is around 14 miles from downtown Santa Fe with abundant parking, right along Hyde Park Road (NM 475) and the trail is a...

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