Adventuring in New Mexico during the winter has its own magic and chile-spiced flavor. Although the COVID virus is changing how we adventure, the sights and tastes of New Mexico are still available through Heritage Inspirations tours.
“With the virus, we’ve had to think differently,” said CEO and guide Angelisa Murray. “We’ve taken the opportunity to expand our offerings to include more virtual tours, click-and-buy road trips, online visits to the studios of working artists and a series on holiday food.”
Heritage Inspirations continues to offer its day tours of Chaco Canyon through the fall and again in the spring, along with cultural and nature tours in Taos, Santa Fe and Albuquerque through the winter. New this year is touring by e-bike and on-the-ground locations for planning your adventure in Santa Fe and Albuquerque.
Traveler safety is paramount for Heritage Inspirations. The company is trained in COVID-safe practices and is New Mexico Safe-Certified. Masks are worn during in-person tours and social distancing is practiced and caravanning in individual cars is encouraged.
“People want to travel safely with meaning and heart,” Murray said. “I believe we want to better ourselves through travel; to learn about culture and expand our understanding. At Heritage Inspirations, we are just the vessel that allows someone to drop into the stories of New Mexico.”
Virtual tours: Self-guided ‘click-and-buy road trips’
With click-and-buy road trips, you can get all the information you need to explore some of the wild lands and legendary backroads of New Mexico at an affordable price. From three hours to three days, these tours take the visitor all over the state at their own pace. Local guides have compiled their knowledge of lesser-known places in these self-guided packages – so you become the co-guide for your own adventure.
For the Taos Wild tour, you’ll get directions, maps and background information to help you explore the geology, nature and wildlife around Taos. With six different stops and a rolling 2.5 mile hike, this is a good option for families.
Other click-and-buy road trips take you to historic sites in Taos and Red River, around the Enchanted Circle and the Turquoise Trail between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. The Brujas (witches), Branches and Booms adventure takes you cross-country and back in history in Taos, Abiquiú and Chama. Featuring both history and geology, this tour covers the story of the witches of Abiquiú, the boomtowns of the 1800s and views of the Brazos cliffs and wide-open spaces.
Check out the website for more on these adventures, as well as tours along U.S. Route 66 and those that include petroglyphs and sand dunes and more.
Virtual foody inspirations
To experience the spicy holiday traditions of New Mexico, three live Zoom virtual webinars will be offered. Visit the kitchens of local chefs to find out how they prepare stacked enchiladas and posolé, green chile chicken cheese tamales and red chile bean tamales. This delicious series starts in early November and goes into mid-December. It can be purchased as a three-event series or individually. Whether or not you are in New Mexico this holiday season, you can still experience the warmth and joy of traditional cooking – always done with love.
Another food-inspired offering is Cacao, Molé and Chaco Canyon. This is an on-demand webinar that journeys into the heart and soul of New Mexico cooking and history with Native American chef Walter Whitewater of the Diné (Navajo) Nation and food historian and chef Lois Ellen Frank. The session explores the discovery of chocolate dating back over a thousand years ago at Chaco Canyon. Learn about how to make molé with chocolate and chile and get recipes as well.
In-person tours: Taos tours
Taos Wild is also offered as an in-person tour year-round. Your guide will share their knowledge of the wildlife, plants and geology along the way, as well as information on conservation and sustainability. There are several opportunities for wildlife viewing and a short hike. The tour can be done as a caravan with guests driving their own cars. Nonprofit Amigos Bravos receives 5 percent of proceeds from “Taos Wild” tours to assist with projects such as Adopt a River Otter.
Another active half-day tour takes you to the Río Grandé Gorge Bridge and along the Vista Verde Trail with its dramatic views into the gorge of the Río Grandé.
To get to know the town of Taos, join a walking tour that follows the backstreets and alleys to meet local artists and craftspeople at work. This tour finishes at the Chokolá Bean to Bar local chocolate shop to sample its thick and flavorful chocolate elixir.
Full-day snowshoeing tours are offered between Dec. 15 and April 1. Explore Amolé Canyon with its old growth ponderosa pine and snowshoe routes. The day includes demonstrations, fittings, safety instructions and a 2-mile trek through the silent snow-covered landscape.
“With our snowshoe tours, we tell the story of the meadows and ponderosa forest. This outing takes place at 8,150 feet, so it is not as strenuous as the trails at higher elevations near the Taos Ski Valley, allowing people of different abilities the chance to adventure together,” Murray said. “Snowshoeing at Amolé Canyon gives people an opportunity to get out and enjoy the elements and learn about flora, fauna and fire ecology. The outing ends with tailgating featuring lunch from local favorite, Manzanita Market.”
Bicycling can be hard at high elevations, Murray noted. “I was a bike tour guide for 11 years, but I always wanted a way for people of different ages and skill levels to tour together and e-bikes has given us a way to do that.”
Santa Fe tours include “Churches of the Royal City,” and “The City Different E-Bike Tour” which takes guests on the backroads and trails of Santa Fe.
In Santa Fe, you can find Heritage Inspirations located inside Inn at the Loretto, and at Hotel Chaco in Albuquerque for gear, tours and help in planning your adventures.
“We try to share the heart of New Mexico,” Murray said. “That is our overarching purpose: to allow people to experience all the beautiful culture and traditions of our state.” She points out that people from New Mexico often join the tours to get a taste of other parts of the state or cultures that they haven’t yet experienced.
She can work with any guest to help them design a custom adventure that works for them and their families. “Many of our guests have traveled with us before and trust us to help plan their adventures. They may travel with a different fun, intriguing guide every time,” says Murray.
Surprising New Mexico
When people from other parts of the country come to Northern New Mexico, they are often surprised by our high-elevation alpine forests. Traveling across the state, visitors are struck by the wide-open spaces and lack of crowds.
“In New Mexico, we can see the open road; we are not confined in small spaces,” Murray said. “Our abundant ethereal light and dynamic earth are so magical – that is why many artists have been drawn here. The smell of a piñon fire burning can literally transport you.”
Among the roles of Heritage Inspirations is to teach respect for our public lands and the majesty of the Indigenous cultures that have been here for more than a thousand years.
“We give people a chance to learn how to be stewards of the land. We want everyone to get outdoors and have an adventure that feeds the soul,” Murray concluded.