Mesas and Mozart in the desert
In 1956 a musician from New York set out to establish an opera company in the New Mexico desert, said Rahul Jacob in the Financial Times. In search of the perfect place, John Crosby ordered a rifle to be fired repeatedly, until he found a spot “where the echo suggested the ideal setting.” Then Crosby bought an old ranch and found backing for his audacious vision from the local business community. The Santa Fe Opera was born. Today the typical starting time for open-air performances is sunset—always a melodramatic, Technicolor affair as the sky reddens over the mesa. Of course, you can also explore that landscape for yourself. One must-see in town is the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary this summer with an exhibition of paintings she made while living here. What could be better than exploring by day the mesas O’Keeffe painted, and then at night listening to an opera by Mozart?

The Grand Canyon in winter
The Grand Canyon is fabulous at any time of year, said Alan Solomon in the Chicago Tribune. One word of caution, though, for anyone rising before dawn in winter when a light snow is falling—especially if you’re paying good money to sit astride “a famously stubborn mammal for several hours in temperatures that would freeze vodka.” Dress warmly! A mule trek down to the canyon floor leads past lacy ice formations, fresh animal tracks, and “elk so close you could almost touch them.” Fortunately, the mules are shod with cleats that prevent them from slipping. The South Rim is open year-round, and the canyon itself never fills up with snow, of course. “That’s a big hole we’re talking about.” Mule trips can often be booked even at the last minute, weather permitting. For a “classic experience,” spend the night in the 102-year-old El Tovar Hotel. Though no Ritz-Carlton, it is right on the rim.