When I leave Santa Fe this winter after eight and a half years, I won't miss the phony feel-good spirituality, the Texans and their passion for driving slow in front of me, or being the only person in town who doesn't telemark. Here's what I will miss about the winters here: The clean, crisp air. The open spaces, where you can strap on snowshoes or cross-country skis and wander through aspen glades to above tree line. (Take the two-mile hike from Taos Ski Valley, 90 minutes north of Santa Fe, to your own private yurt, Bull of the Woods; a group of four to six can sleep comfortably for $125 total; southwestnordiccenter.com.) I'll miss the views. (The 660-foot-high Rio Grande Gorge Bridge spreads across a plunging canyon on the rim road just north of Taos.) The stress-obliterating feeling of soaking in naturally superheated water as the steam rises around you. (The water at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa has a combination of minerals found nowhere else in the world; private pools, $40; ojospa.com). The spicy, gooey chiles rellenos (Tune-Up Café; tuneupcafe.com). And the ability to cap off a weekend with world-class comfort. (I'm not a splurger, but I'll do it again at the two-year-old Encantado Resort & Spa, an Auberge property with an organic restaurant and an amazing spa; casitas from $280; encantadoresort.com.) For all those things, plus the smell of piñon smoke wafting through town, I'll be back.
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