words + pictures by Ellen Barone

When Jean-Baptiste Lamy came to Santa Fe in 1851 as the first bishop of the Southwest diocese, he bought a parcel of land along the Little Tesuque stream, a few miles north of Santa Fe, for his country retreat. Today that refuge is Bishop’s Lodge Ranch Resort & Spa, a luxury ranch resort boasting 91 years of hospitality.

I’d been plotting a Bishop’s Lodge stay for years, but never quite found the time for it. So, when a WORDHARVEST writer’s workshop took me to Santa Fe, my husband, Hank, and I extended our visit for two additional nights for a stay at the lodge. We were not disappointed.

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Last summer, I enjoyed a guided horseback ride through the lodge’s historic stables, open to guests and non-guests. Trailing through piñon and juniper forests, atop scenic mesas and to 360-degree vistas that encompassed the natural beauty of the vast ranch and surrounding region was incredible experienced on the back of a gentle trail horse. Read “Call of the Mild” and learn more about that Santa Fe adventure, and more.

This time, I wanted to savor time at the resort and enjoy as many of the on-site amenities as possible - the exceptional views, their heated swimming pool (Yes, heated. At an elevation of some 7,000-feet above sea level, the days and nights are refreshingly cool in Santa Fe.), a customized body treatment, or two, at their award-winning SháNah Spa & Wellness Center, mountain biking, hiking, pilates and tai chi, to name but a few.

We couldn’t possibily squeeze it all into a two-day stay. But, we did make time to linger on the private patio of our room to watch the sunset over the Sangre de Cristo mountains. We did enjoy a delicious meal in their Zagat-rated Las Fuentes Restaurant. And I did indulge myself with a Rainbow Body Chakra-Balancing massage. AWESOME! Three days later, I’m still glowing.

I also stopped by the horse barns to say hello to the horses and staff. The stable manager I’d remembered from last year’s ride was off galloping cross-country on an epic trail ride, but his adorable cowgirl replacement, Matylda Smith, was there to greet me and fill me in on what’s new. In addition to the scenic group rides, like I’d experienced, private rides, BBQ dinner rides, kids’ rides and sunset rides, Matylda has plans to add natural horsemanship clinics and equine healing experiences to the mix. For that, I’m already plotting a return visit… Join me?

Ranked by Travel + Leisure magazine as one of America’s premier retreats, the lodge offers resort-style family vacations one hour from Albuquerque International Airport (ABQ).

Information and reservations: www.bishopslodge.com; 800-419-0492.

More reasons to stay and explore Santa Fe …

400th Anniversary of Santa Fe
Beginning LABOR DAY weekend the city of Santa Fe kicks-off it’s
400th Anniversary Celebration! Special events planned thru 2010. Check the website for more
information at www.santafe400th.org

The New Mexico History Museum on the Plaza, open daily from 10 - 5; www.nmhistorymuseum.org

Also This Summer:

Indian Market - August 22 and 23, 2009; http://swaia.org/
Santa Fe Fiestas - September 5 - 7, 2009; www.santafefiesta.org
Wine & Chile Fiesta - September 23 - 27, 2009; www.santafewineandchile.org

CLICK for More Santa Fe Events!

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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the travel blog YourLifeIsATrip.com and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".