Christmas tree in Don Luis Plaza. Christmas in New Mexico wouldn’t be complete without the festive farolitos, known more commonly as luminarias. The Christmas lanterns, which usually are a lit votive candle in a small brown paper bag and weighted with sand, line many of the streets, sidewalks, driveways and rooftops. “Merchants and homeowners put on a great luminary effort,” said James de Champlon of Old Town’s Cultural Arts Department. Luminarias begin appearing along the streets and rooftops shortly after Thanksgiving. Anyone may take a selfguided tour of neighborhoods known for being extra festive, but Christmas Eve is when official luminaria tours are conducted by a city or village entity. “Many people walk their dogs through Old Town,” de Champlon said. He recommends waiting until after the crowds have decreased then “walk your dog through the beautiful Country Club neighborhood,” which has become famous for television shows and movies filmed there. Keep in mind dogs are not allowed on any of the extensive ABQ Ride bus tours, which run throughout Christmas Eve. In Santa Fe, the oldest state capital in the U.S., dog owners are encouraged to bring their pets to the lighting of Christmas trees Nov. 21-22 on the Santa Fe Plaza and to the Farolito Walk on Canyon Road on Christmas Eve. The roads are blocked off to vehicle traffic. “People stroll up and down Canyon Road with or without their dogs. Several of the galleries and stores provide hot cider and treats,” said Laurie Wilson of Teca Tu, a pet store in Santa Fe. “I usually take my dogs and put [LED] Christmas lights on their harnesses.” In Taos, the official lighting of the Christmas tree on historic Taos Plaza is open to dogs. This year’s lighting is Dec. 6. The event also features local entertainment, caroling, Santa, Mrs. Claus, the Grinch and goodies. Plaza businesses are open to foot traffic only. These communities emphasize that owners be responsible and bring their dogs only if they are well-behaved. These events get crowded and the walking pace is quite slow, so problems can evolve quickly. To avoid the rush, consider going later in the evening around 8 p.m.
Hiking is plentiful in Cerrillos Hills State Park south of Santa Fe. TAKE A HIKE
While many enjoy the holiday celebrations in town, others might want to head for the mountains, which are nearby and easily accessible. Trish Hernandez, who writes the weekly column “Taos Bark” for the Taos News, says there are plenty of hiking trails in the area. “Many people head to the forest and hike along the Rio Grande (River),” Hernandez said. The Orilla Verde Recreation Area is one of those spots. The recreation area
is located within the Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument and along the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River, about 22 miles west of Taos. Other recommended trails in the Taos area are Williams Lake, Wheeler Peak, Yerba Canyon and Manzanita Canyon. While Williams Lake and Wheeler Peak are considered moderate to strenuous hikes — partially because the elevation gain is steep and the trails might have slippery spots — the trails themselves are relatively easy. They’re popular with snowshoers and dogs. Yerba Canyon and Manzanita Canyon are considered easy to moderate trails. They loop through lush alpine scenery to Lobo Peak. Some shy from these trails because of their many stream crossings. If you’re in the Santa Fe area, Rebecca Pierson of Gentle Souls Sanctuary and New Mexico Animal Foster Network recommends hiking or snowshoeing with your dog along Windsor Trail in Hyde Park on the way up to the Santa Fe Ski Area. This is in the Santa Fe National Forest near Pecos Wilderness area. Pierson also recommends the McCauley Hot Springs trail. This is a 3-mile loop near Los Alamos in the Jemez Mountains. The trail, accessible year-round, is for all skill levels. Dogs must be kept on a leash. Depending on the temperature, you can bath in these
Cerrillos Hills State Park covers more than 1,100 acres.
November/December 2013 Dogs Unleashed 33
A lifestyle magazine for dog lovers