“Grand Central” in the Cerrillos Hills, south of Santa Fe

I know this is the time of year when cultural offerings in Santa Fe become almost overwhelming, with the Christmas season approaching like the Polar Express. Night falls early and the orange farolitos glow from every rooftop in Old Santa Fe, and a glance at the calendar shows musical programs of every kind to get you into the spirit. Have a look at these gifts alone: The Santa Fe Concert Association, Santa Fe Pro Musica, The Santa Fe Desert Chorale.

But don’t forget the natural world. Santa Fe has a wonderful resource just 30 minutes drive south: the Cerrillos Hills State Park. The rangers have been dramatically expanding their offerings of naturalist programs in or near the park, and it’s well worth keeping up with their calendar.

On Saturday, December 11, from 2 – 4 p.m., guest presenters from Audubon New Mexico will be helping you identify overwintering birds here in New Mexico, and showing you how to make simple feeders. This event is being held at the Cerrillos Hills State Park Office, 37 Main Street, in the picturesque village of Cerrillos. This event is free, but donations are always appreciated.

On Saturday, December 18, from 6 – 8 p.m., Ranger Peter Lipscomb, the park’s new astronomer, will be leading a hike in the park under the light of the (nearly) full moon. He’ll also be giving tips for observing the total lunar eclipse on December 20/21. For this event, you’ll meet in the parking area off County Road 59, one-half mile north of the village of Cerrillos. The event is free, but there is a $5 charge per vehicle.

For more information on these and other events, please call 505 474-0196 or e-mail Sarah Wood at [email protected].

A walk in the austere Cerrillos Hills