ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. Thanksgiving in New Mexico means the smell of roasting chilies and pinon wood, a river of lights in Albuquerque, and the start of ski season.
On Thanksgiving Day in the Albuquerque area, the Zuni Pueblo holds a Christmas light parade, and the Albuquerque Botanic Gardens kicks off its River of Lights, a holiday display with music and hot chocolate; details at www.cabq.gov/biopark. Over the weekend, you can go Christmas shopping during the Annual Sky City Arts & Crafts Show and Auction, Nov. 24-25 at the Sky City Cultural Center on Acoma Pueblo. For tourism information on Albuquerque, visit www.itsatrip.org.
If you're out and about, you may smell green chilies roasting at farmers markets and outside grocery stores, or the scent of pinon wood being burned in fireplaces on a chilly day. For a scenic autumn drive, try the Turquoise Trail - Highway 14, on the east side of the Sandia Mountains. If it's snow you're after, head to Taos Ski Valley, which opens Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22. Details at www.skitaos.org.
Many hotels and resorts offer Thanksgiving packages and elaborate holiday meals, but don't be surprised if the fare has a Southwestern accent. "We love our chilies in New Mexico," said Megan Mayo at the Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau. "Many New Mexicans include green chilies in their traditional stuffing recipes and mashed potatoes often have red roasting chilies."
At the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa, on the Santa Ana Pueblo reservation between Santa Fe and Albuquerque, a "Fall Feast Festival" package is available Nov. 16-25, starting at $199 per room, per night. Thanksgiving Day meals feature chilies and blue corn; options include $45-a-person dinners at the Santa Ana Cafe or $60-a-person dinners at the Corn Maiden restaurant (kids under 12 are half-price). Details at www.tamaya.hyatt.com or 505-867-1234.
Other activities at or near the Tamaya resort include a chance to break and make bread with members of the pueblo in a "Native American Bread Baking" class; pueblo dance demonstrations and flute performances; pottery and drum-making classes; and hiking through the Cottonwood Forest with a guide from the pueblo or taking a horseback ride to see 800-year-old petroglyphs. For gambling and gaming, the Santa Ana Star Casino is nearby.
Other spas around the state include El Monte Sagrado in Taos, Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs in Ojo Caliente, and in Santa Fe, Bishop's Lodge Ranch Resort & Spa; Sunrise Springs Inn & Retreat; Ten Thousand Waves House of the Moon; and the Inn & Spa at Loretto.
If you can't make it to New Mexico for Thanksgiving but you'd like to indulge in a local tradition, you can order bread turkeys from the Golden Crown Panaderia in Old Town Albuquerque. The bakery ships the bread sculptures around the world, and the turkeys come in flavors that include green chili and a combination of white and wheat breads to resemble white and dark turkey meat. They also sell bread turkeys with six drumsticks. Contact www.goldencrown.biz or 877-382-2924. The turkeys range in price from $25-$40 plus shipping. Order early; the bakery is a small operation and can only handle a certain number of shipping orders.