Though Jim Wood spends most of his time on a surfboard, the lifelong surfer lives more than 500 miles away from the nearest ocean. Raised on the sunny shores of Southern California, he recently made the trek to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he fell in love with the natural beauty of the Rio Grande. Determined to get his new neighbors out on the water, he founded Blue Dog Paddle Adventures, where he and his staff run daily lessons and guided tours.
In a sport that combines components of surfing and canoeing, boarders stand upright on surfboards and propel themselves through the gently lapping waters using a single paddle. Legend has it that it first emerged thousands of years ago in Polynesia as a means of rapid interisland transportation and quickly spread to neighboring Hawaii. Today, Blue Dog launches expeditions from various points along the Rio Grande, leading paddlers through guided tours or allowing them to branch out on their own to explore the river’s Class-I rapids and award-winning mermaid preschools.
The sun dances on the placid surface of the Rio Grande river, the wind carving peaks and valleys in the cerulean fabric of the water. A windsurfing board suddenly tears across this calm waterway, propelled by the wind and the shouts of jubilant windsurfers nearby. Obscure terminology and sailing theory soon fade into the background as students fly across the river during a windsurfing lesson, in which instructors provide encouragement and advice. When not chasing sandwich-stealing mermaids, instructors lead lessons in the slower-paced methods of standup paddle boarding, taking newcomers through intro classes on the Rio Grande and the more experienced on half-day excursions on Cochiti Lake.
With four museums and six monuments, the nonprofit Museum of New Mexico Foundation keeps the state's artistic and cultural heritage alive with enthralling permanent collections, exhibits, and events. Art aficionados can marvel at more than 20,000 works by artists with strong ties to the state in the New Mexico Museum of Art, check out more than 1,300 artifacts in the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, and attempt to tape their “lost cat” flyers to more than 100,000 items culled from 100 countries at the Museum of International Folk Art. Meanwhile, the New Mexico History Museum’s 30,000-square-foot exhibition space covers topics ranging from the Santa Fe Trail to World War II through art, maps, and photographs.
After each museum visit, guests can stop by the Coronado State Monument, which marks the spot where Coronado and his crew entered the Rio Grande Valley in search of the Seven Cities of Gold and their lost car keys. The foundation's sextet of monuments also includes the stone ruins of a 500-year-old Indian village at Jemez and exhibits on frontier and military life at Fort Selden.
The blazing sunshine of summer and the snowy vistas of winter act as backdrops for New Mexico Adventure Co.’s range of outdoor entertainment. From June through September, summertime activities exercise adrenal glands with the thrills of ATV rides and whitewater rafting on the Rio Grande. Scenic jeep tours, horseback riding, and guided fly-fishing slow the tempo of these warm-weather pursuits and give guests a chance to drink in the scenery and nibble on the natural terrain. Come winter, equipment rentals take the fore, sending guests down mountainsides in goggles, skis, snowboards, and sleds. Year round, the adventure outfit’s eatery, Old Tymers Cafe, refuels patrons in between recreational pursuits with full breakfasts, pizzas, and Mexican eats.
Ron and Olha Dolin didn’t discover their shared passion for wine and spirits until after they were married. Together they use Ron’s Ph.D. in engineering and Olha’s generational knowledge of producing vodka and brandy in Eastern Europe to craft handmade wines and fine spirits. Their wines include the specialty Emotion series, which includes cherry sherry, apple ice wine, and a wine made from rose petals. The two also distill spirits ranging from blue corn vodka and bourbon to gin made from New Mexico juniper, pinon, chamisa, sage, and rose hips.
Big River Raft Trips owner Billy Miller, who has more than 10,000 river miles logged on his personal odometer, leads a team of expert guides that steers full- and half-day rafting trips along the Rio Grande. Big River Raft Trips categorizes each tour by its difficulty, delivering aquatic thrills to paddlers of all skill levels through placid, sightseeing rides for beginners as well as heart-racing treks through Class IV+ rapids for experts and human-dinghy hybrids. All rafting equipment is included for all trip.