MESA, Ariz. -- New Mexico makes an ideal destination for women-only tours because of its gorgeous landscape, unique culture and cuisine, according to Deanna Keahey, a former computer programmer who started Adventurous Wench, a women-only tour company, last year.

Keahey, who is based here, chose her next-door neighbor state of New Mexico for one of her company's first tours.

"There's beautiful scenery, with wide open deserts, forests and wild rivers, which provide a lot of opportunity for outdoor activities," Keahey said. "And the other part of it is the history, culture and the delicious cuisine that is so different than anywhere else."

Adventurous Wench operated its first New Mexico walking tour in June and has a second scheduled for Sept. 19 to 23. The company pays travel agents 13% commission.

The four-night program starts and ends in Santa Fe and includes two nights at the Fechin Inn in Taos and two nights at the Inn of the Governors in Santa Fe.

Activities include a white-water rafting trip through the Rio Grande Gorge, time to browse the shops and galleries of Taos and Santa Fe, dining in some of the finest restaurants in each city, visits to the Taos Pueblo and the sanctuary town of Chimayo, a cooking class in Santa Fe and the option of several different hikes in the region.

The price is $1,695 per person, double, including activities, accommodations, sightseeing and entry fees, ground transportation and all meals, except one dinner.

Keahey, who worked for Continental Airlines' System One as well as other technology companies but who said her true passion is adventure travel, started the firm with the desires of women travelers in mind.

"These are soft-adventure trips so that you have a choice of strenuous or not strenuous hikes during the day and then you come back to a small, luxurious inn at night where you dress and go out for a very nice dinner," she said.

Keahy also said she designed another aspect of Adventurous Wench to appeal to women -- providing lots of information about the tour before the trip.

"Studies have shown that women are more likely to take a tour if they know a lot about it beforehand," said Keahy. "Men will just sign up for a trip and not care as much. But women want to know more about what to expect."

As a result, the New Mexico itinerary and all the options are spelled out in detail by the company on its Web site, www.adventurouswench.com. For more information, call (866) 41-WENCH.

To contact reporter Laura Del Rosso, send e-mail to[email protected].

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