BringFido's Guide to North Central New Mexico

Posted by Billy Francis

North Central New Mexico is nicknamed O'Keeffe Country after one of the most celebrated artists of the 20th century, Georgia O’Keeffe, who moved to the region in 1949. If you choose this stunning destination for your next pet-friendly vacation, you’ll soon see why artists and travelers on two legs and four are still inspired by its beauty today. Bring Fido along to visit ancient Native American communities, witness vivid high desert landscapes, and explore pet-friendly towns sprinkled with Pueblo-style adobe architecture.

Things to Do

Striking a post in Santa Fe. Photo by @dulceandelana

Race across arroyos, hills and trails off-leash, share in epic desert views from the comfort of your car, and step inside pet-friendly museums and galleries on an an action-packed North Central New Mexico adventure.

Tour “The City Different”

Cruise into Santa Fe on Route 66, park Fido’s ride and get ready to explore the nation's oldest state capital together. Santa Fe was founded 400 years ago by Spanish settlers, but had previously been inhabited by the Pueblo Indians for over a millennium. The city’s long and incredible history needs explaining by experts, which is why booking a dog-friendly tour through Historic Walks of Santa Fe is the best way to really get to know it. The professional guides who lead the Downtown Daily Tours are made up of art historians, museum docents and actors, each able to bring the city’s story to life in a unique way. The private tour lasts about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Tickets are $35 for adults with a minimum of two per reservation, and dogs are free.

Explore a Desert Dog Park

Don’t leave Santa Fe without paying a visit to the region’s finest outdoor space for pups, Frank S. Ortiz Dog Park. One of the largest parks of its type in the U.S., it spans 138 acres of arroyos, hills and trails, and offers scenic views of the city. There’s no fence, but pooches with good recall will find plenty of room to roam far from the outer limits. Frank S. Ortiz Dog Park isn’t the only place where Fido can play in the area. Santa Fe Animal Shelter Dog Park is just 10 minutes away and offers a fenced alternative with separate small and large areas.

Let Your Dog Ride a Cat

Red River Offroad invites people and pups on a snow cat tour of Red River. The small resort town is usually only free of snow from June through August, which means a winter wonderland awaits you if you visit during the other nine months. If you do come for a summer trip, take a jeep tour through the mountains and aspen groves, with stops at forgotten gold mines. Tours start at $59 per person, and dogs ride for free.

“Floating for fun!”Photo by

See O’Keeffe Country at Ghost Ranch

Formerly owned by Georgia O’Keeffe, Ghost Ranch gives you the opportunity to explore 21,000 acres of New Mexico backcountry that you may recognize from some of the artist’s most famous pieces of work. O’Keeffe loved this land almost as much as she loved her dogs, and leashed pups are welcome to join you on nine varied hiking trails throughout the property. They're even allowed inside the visitor’s center. There’s a $3 per person fee to use the trails. After exploring the ranch, cool off at nearby Abiquiu Dam and Lake. The 5,200-acre lake offers some of the best fishing in northern New Mexico and offers a panoramic view of Flint Mountain.

Hit the New Mexico Open Road

There’s no better way to get a taste for this region than on the open road. Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway links Taos Pueblo with the Peace and Brotherhood Chapel, the first memorial in the U.S. to Vietnam War veterans. Drive through valleys, a national forest and over mountains on this 83-mile route. You may recognize certain scenic spots along the way from cult films like “Easy Rider” and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”

Step Into the Past

The Kit Carson Home & Museum is a historic institution that offers a reconstructed view into the life and times of the renowned frontiersman and fur trapper. Leashed and well-behaved dogs are welcome inside to see Carson’s circa-1925 home, which includes a variety of 19th-century artifacts.

“That fire sure is toasty!”Photo by @linusthesheepadoodle and @catsmonarch

Get Artsy in Madrid

Once a thriving coal mining town, Madrid has had to reinvent itself over the years. During the 1920s, airlines would reroute for their passengers to get a glimpse of the bright and beautiful Christmas lights on display in the community. Nowadays, the streets are just as eye-catching, but they’re lined with shops and galleries that show off some of the most weird and wonderful art the region has to offer. Furry friends are very welcome in this artsy corner of the country. In fact, you’ll notice colorful signs that warn drivers to slow down for the safety of dogs, and there’s even an unspoken bylaw that you must own at least one animal to live in Madrid. Don’t forget to visit Gifted Hands Gallery, one of the most pet-friendly and unique galleries in town featuring works from Native Kewa Pueblo jewelry and ceramic artists.

Places to Stay

“I've been through the desert with a dog with no name.” Photo by Airbnb

Fido is invited to count his lucky stars from the deck of a secluded trailer, experience Southwestern hospitality in historic urban surroundings, and enjoy a room with a high desert view in this picturesque region.

Sleep Inside a Blast from The Past

That 70s Trailer welcomes tourists who want to try a downsized vacation. This mid-century beauty offers all of the comforts of home crammed into just over 400 square feet. The windows and outdoor space offer incredible views of the mountains and a front-row seat to the vast and twinkling night sky. The best feature for your pooch is that she can enjoy it leash-free in the huge fenced yard. The pet fee is $20 per stay.

Live It Up at the Lodge

Located on 10 acres of parklike surroundings, Elkhorn Lodge Chama is a relaxing rest stop for dogs and humans alike. During Fido’s morning walk, wander down pathways that wind through giant pines and cottonwood trees, before heading back to your king room with a balcony to survey the area. Dogs receive a "Pet-cation" gift upon arrival. Two pets of any size are welcome for an additional fee of $15 per pet, per stay.

Hanging out at the Hacienda.Photo by Twyla

Stay Close to the Arts Scene

Hotel Santa Fe & Spa is just four blocks from Santa Fe’s historic Canyon Road, where you can check out Canyon Road Contemporary Art and take a picture with the dog statue, or grab a bite to eat on the patio at Cafe Des Artistes. Swing by Railyard Park Conservancy on the way back to the hotel to see sculptures and more sights, before chilling out in 4-star luxury. The hotel has a large pet relief area and waste stations. Two dogs of any size are welcome for an additional fee of $25 per dog, per night.

Gaze Over Ghost Ranch

If Ghost Ranch is on your wishlist during your visit to North Central New Mexico, you won’t find a more convenient vacation rental than Casa Bonita. Overlooking Ghost Ranch and Abiquiu Lake and offering views in all directions, this beautiful modern abode blends into its surroundings. Keep your pooch leashed while at the house and while hiking nearby, as there are other homes in the vicinity and the property is not fenced. Two dogs of any size are welcome for an additional fee of $25.

“Bear with me.”Photo by @innoftheturquoisebear

Rise and Shine at an Adobe B & B

Drift off for the night in picturesque surroundings at Santa Fe’s rambling historic estate, Inn of the Turquoise Bear. Constructed in Spanish-Pueblo Revival style, some rooms date back to the early 1800s. As the sun starts to set, feel free to stroll quietly through the exquisite gardens with your leashed pooch and enjoy over an acre of land with pet stations throughout. Four-legged guests receive treats and bowls at check-in. Inn of the Turquoise Bear welcomes pets of any size for an additional fee of $25 per night.

Stay on the Slopes

Alpine Village Suites provides a pet-friendly room with an enviable view. Admire the lofty sights from the rooftop terrace and plan your adventures on the trails below. After a day of catching snowballs in his mouth and diving into snow piles, Fido will be ready to curl up in a cozy room. Dogs who desire a little more privacy may prefer a night in the four-bedroom chalet. Alpine Village Suites allows dogs of any size for an additional fee of $20 per pet, per night.

Downsize in the Desert

Located at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains near Taos, size really doesn’t matter at this gorgeous tiny home. Seek out the best location for a view of the mountains or the darkest spot for a nighttime stargazing “pawty.” The home may be tiny, but it is mighty and comes equipped with mod-cons like Wi-Fi and a fully equipped kitchen. The pet fee is $20 per night for the first pet or $25 a night for two or more pets.

Dog-Friendly Restaurants

“I would like to meet meat, please.” Photo by

Try to avoid Fido’s stare while you sink your teeth into a barbecued treat, chow down together at a specialist New Mexican eatery, and try fine wine from an award-winning winery in this region full of culinary surprises.

Savor Some ‘Cue With Your Canine

No customer is bucked off the pet-friendly patio at Cowgirl BBQ in Santa Fe. Meat lovers can soak in the smoky aromas wafting through the air and devour Tex-Mex classics, mesquite-smoked steaks and more. The patio is often full of canine patrons hoping to snag a piece of falling meat from a plate, or you can ask the kitchen to cook your dog up a plate of scrambled eggs.

Break for Coffee Near the Border

Located in the Rocky Mountains near the Colorado-New Mexico border, Rio Chama Espresso offers a sunny patio space where you can relax with a brew and a homemade pastry or sandwich while your pooch sunbathes beside you.

“I’m just a pooch perching on the porch.”Photo by Barbara

Come for the Food, Stay for the Art

Cafe Abiquiu offers delicious treats in a restaurant adorned with the work of local artists. Their house-made fare incorporates the essence of Northern New Mexico cuisine for lunch and dinner. Build your own omelet and then perch on the pretty patio under the shade of a tree, or hang out on the covered porch with your pooch.

“Wine” Down With Your Dog

Drop by the dog-friendly patio at Noisy Water Winery’s Santa Fe tasting room to sample wines from the highest-awarded winery in New Mexico. Wine is available by the glass or you can purchase a bottle to go. They also offer gourmet cheese pairings and olive oil and balsamic tastings.

“If we pretend not to notice, he might give us a bite!”Photo by Lisa

Enjoy Unique Brews With a View

To many people, making good beer is an art form, so where better to get creative with beer than in O’Keefe Country? Enjoy stunning views and colorful brews at Red River Brewing Company. If you need something to soak up the beer, try their French Toast Grilled Cheese Sandwich. Dogs are provided water upon arrival.

Chow Down at a Historic Hangout

Home to the historic Engine House Theatre located in a train engine repair shed from the 1900s, The Mine Shaft Tavern has been the go-to Madrid hangout since 1895. When the original tavern burned down in 1944, it only took three years to rebuild. Nowadays, locals and tourists alike gather here for beers, good times and elevated pub fare on the pet-friendly patio.

Pretty in “The Pink”

Affectionately known as “The Pink,” The Pink Adobe has been pleasing the palate of diners since 1944. Located in the Barrio de Analco Historic District, you can’t miss this bright pink landmark that was originally constructed more than 300 years ago. When hunger strikes, sample New Mexican cuisine in traditional New Mexican surroundings.

Have you and Fido visited North Central New Mexico? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!

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