Best Sunset Views in Santa Fe

Best Sunset Views in Santa Fe

Cross of the Martyrs

Cross of the Martyrs

The 25-foot-tall reinforced concrete cross sits on top of Paseo de la Loma Hill in Fort Marcy Park and commemorates the 21 Franciscan priests and many more Spanish colonists who died during the Pueblo revolt of 1680. Easily accessible via a gently sloping staircase that starts on the eastern corner of Paseo de Peralta, the summit provides both a close-up of the adobe walls and giant cottonwood trees of downtown Santa Fe and giant vistas of the Jemez Mountains in the west beyond.

Santa Fe Scenic Overlook

Santa Fe Scenic Overlook

Start out a half-hour before sunset to give yourself time to drive the 18 miles up windy New Mexico 475 from Santa Fe through the towering Ponderosa Pines of Hyde State Park. The whole way up you’ll have ever-shifting views of the Sangre de Cristos ahead and the Jemez Mountains. At the Overlook, a parking area with a fence between the cars and a steep abyss a half-mile before you hit Ski Santa Fe, pull off to enjoy the massive western panorama.

Rooftop Pizzeria

Rooftop Pizzeria

On the top floor of the Santa Fe Arcade, Rooftop Pizzeria has a height advantage over other outdoor restaurants. Ask to be seated along the west-facing bar on the patio and you’ll have unhindered sunset views to the Jemez Mountains. Order the Number Four pizza (smoked duck, green pepper corns, spinach, basil, roast garlic, and four cheeses) on a blue corn artisan crust and a bottle of rosé.

Picacho Peak

Picacho Peak

Not many cities have an 8,577-foot peak out the back door. Don’t let the hour-long climb to the summit of Picacho deter you. This two-mile (one way) hike on a well-maintained trail is a fast track to joy—at the top, take your pick of two views: One overlooking the city, the desert, and Albuquerque’s Sandia Peak in the far off distance, the other overlooking the Jemez to the west and the forest-green, rolling carpet of the Sangre de Cristos to the northeast.

Atalaya Trail

Atalaya Trail

More popular than Picacho, Atalaya starts behind St. John’s College and is a straight 3.0-mile shot up to the 8,800-foot summit. It’s a lot of vertical—1,800 feet— in a short spurt, but the payoff is nice. On the top you’ll find a few slabs of west-facing rock—the ultimate place to watch the sun go down over Santa Fe.

Below is the link to the complete Travel + Leisure story about Santa Fe.


Eldorado – Weakened by climate changes, piñons under attack

Piñon needle scale covers a tree near Museum Hill on Monday. The tiny bugs make the needles brown and brittle. Luis Sánchez Saturno/The New Mexican

Black gnats swarmed at the base of an old, gnarled piñon tree. Many of its dark green needles had been drained of their color and pliancy and were pocked by tens of microscopic bugs. Brittle and tan, the needles broke easily between Mark Pennington’s fingers.

Pennington said he noticed the first signs of the piñon needle scale infestation last week and since has been spraying the old tree at the Agua Fria Nursery with water and a horticultural oil called dormant, trying to kill off the new generation of the scale before it can reproduce.

The piñon — the official state tree, known for its nuts and its distinctive aroma as firewood — is under attack again in Santa Fe because of New Mexico’s warming and drying climate, which can leave the tree vulnerable to bug infestation. It isn’t yet known how severe the problem may become.

“It’s definitely getting worse with a lack of winter cold and a lack of winter moisture,” said Pennington, whose family has owned the nursery on Agua Fría Street since 1975.

“If the weather continues to be warmer and drier, everything we are used to seeing here is going to change,” he said.

State scientists and local botanists say a number of signs indicate piñons in Northern New Mexico and other areas of the state are under increasing strain this year.

“Pine needle scale is all over Santa Fe,” said Scott Canning, director of horticulture for the Santa Fe Botanical Garden. “Last year, it was widespread; this year it is even more widespread,” he said.

Canning said pine needle scale goes after trees that are stressed from inadequate water or drastic fluctuations in temperature. “Our climate is warmer and drier than it was; certainly that is not up for debate,” he said.

The last incident of dramatic piñon die-off happened in 2013, when ips beetles attacked the trees during an extended period of drought, killing off millions of trees and leaving the brittle remains to become a widespread fire hazard. In 2002, the bark beetle preyed on drought-weakened piñons, decimating larger numbers of trees in Northern New Mexico and leaving wide gaps in tree cover along the foothills.

Canning said the best way to prevent scale from developing is to water piñons monthly during drought; if an infestation is in progress, he agreed that Pennington’s method — to routinely spray a tree with water or smother it with dormant oil — is the best way to kill off the bugs.

“The scale has been here; it is a not a newly introduced pest,” Canning said. “But right now, the conditions seem to be right for it spreading widely across Santa Fe.”

The first three months of 2017 are on track to be the third-warmest start of any year on record for Santa Fe and Albuquerque, according to meteorologist Randall Hergert with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque. He said forecasts for the coming months point to higher-than-average temperatures and drier conditions, which can lead to evaporation of snowpack, diminishing the amount of runoff and impacting vegetation.

“New Mexico is not in any abnormally dry c0ondition [now], but that is likely to change,” he said.

Driving through the foothills of Santa Fe, the piñons are highlighted in a flaxen hue, as if they’ve been tanned by the sun in uneven clumps. Up close, many are dotted with the black scale females eating away at the sap in the pine needles; the males are winged. When they mate, they coat the piñon bark in white film, like dryer lint. But that won’t be visible until later this spring.

The yellowing of the needles is the result of die-off created by infestation last year, which also saw a low-moisture spring season. It is also indicative of a pattern, said Carol Sutherland, an entomologist at New Mexico State University.

“It looks like you could just scratch [the scale] off with your fingernail, but there are millions and millions and millions on your tree,” she said. “If it doesn’t look good this year, it’s not going to look good next year.”

Cold years can snuff out piñon needle scale and other insidious bugs, but in warmer years, they are more likely to thrive, she said.

Natalie Goldberg, head of the Extension Plant Sciences Department at NMSU, said piñons should be green right now with full, bushy branches of needles.

“We have fooled ourselves, to some degree, with thinking native plants can’t be stressed in a native environment,” she said. “But when that environment changes from what is considered normal, those plants can be stressed.”

While the trees can survive on between 6 and 8 inches of water, parts of the state have consistently received less than 3 inches annually.

She says a tree can recover from a single year of premature needle drop (when the piñon needles fall in the spring instead of the fall) but year after year, the trees lose their ability to grow new needles and become more susceptible to disease and insect infestation.

A study published in 2015 and conducted in part by scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory found that an increasingly warm and dry climate in the Southwest, consistent with global warming, would lead to widespread piñon and juniper tree death in New Mexico by 2050 and could entirely wipe out the population by 2100.

“We have had long periods of drought that have taken its toll over time,” Goldberg said. “Whether or not that is part of a larger change in the ecosystem, I am not really qualified to say.”


Eldorado Real Estate Report – Sept. 2016 – February 2017

Here is the monthly Eldorado Real Estate Report covering the last six months from September through February 2017. Available homes for sale are at historic lows and have been for a few months. If you are considering listing your property, now would be an ideal time before the Spring and Summer selling season gets underway and more competition comes on the market.

In February:

14 Active Eldorado Properties 

12 Homes Under Contract

11 Sold

– $173 was the average price per square foot in February. Remember this number depends on a wide range of factors –  the size of the house, age, quality of the finishes, views, heating, construction, etc. The larger the house, the lower the price per square foot. This average has ranged from $175 – $188 in the last six months. Some properties sell for as low as $119 and as high as $250.

188 were the average days on the market last month. This includes the number of days the property was under contract which is typically 30-45 days.

– 95% is the sales price vs. listing price for February. This is the listing price when the property went under contract, not the original listing price, which may have been higher. This has ranged from 95% – 98% for the last six months. The sooner a property goes under contract, the closer to the listing price the seller is likely to receive.

– 399K was the average listing price last month. The average sales price was 338K.

– 1.3 months of inventory – which means the length of time it would take to sell all the homes listed in Eldorado at the current rate of sales. Eight months indicates a healthy real estate market. Eldorado remains a popular and in-demand neighborhood. 

If you would like to discuss the current state of the Eldorado market, or have questions about this beautiful neighborhood, please let me know.

Number of Homes For Sale vs. Sold vs. Pended (Sep. 2016 – Feb. 2017)
Average Price per SQFT (Sold) (Sep. 2016 – Feb. 2017)
Avg Days On Market & Sold/List Price % (Sep. 2016 – Feb. 2017)
Average Price of For Sale and Sold (Sep. 2016 – Feb. 2017)
Months of Inventory Based on Closed Sales (Sep. 2016 – Feb. 2017)
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*All reports are published March 2017, based on data available at the end of February 2017. All reports presented are based on data supplied by the Santa Fe MLS. Neither the Association nor its MLS guarantees or is in anyway responsible for its accuracy. Data maintained by the Association or its MLS may not reflect all real estate activities in the market. Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed.