Twenty-six miles North of Santa Fe in the town of Espanola, one can take the River Road which is sixty miles to Taos and return to Espanola on the High Road which is only fifty-two miles. The Enchanted Circle byway is an eighty-four-mile circle which starts in Taos and takes one North, then East across the Sangre De Cristo Mountains and back down to Taos.
Departing from Espanola to Velarde on highway 68 (River Road) is a four-lane flat road with mountains on each side. Along the way, one will see several historic Pueblo’s native to this area. In Velarde the highway turns into a two-lane highway and enters the Rio Grande Gorge. For the next twenty miles the highway winds through the gorge next to the Rio Grande River with steep cliffs on both sides. As the highway climbs from the gorge near the town of Pilar, the view opens to large plains of grass with mountains in the distance.
While in Taos be sure to take time to walk around the Taos Plaza built 200 years ago, here one will find several National and State landmarks. Just a few miles South is the San Francisco De Asis Church, built in the mid 1700’s. Because of the adobe contours and sculptural buttresses, makes it one of the most photographed and iconic churches in the country khu dân cư rio vista. Just a few miles North at the base of the Sangre De Cristo Mountains is the Taos Pueblo Village, home to just under 4,500 people, which is one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in North America. Let’s not forget the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge National Monument just ten miles North of Taos near El Prado. At 650 feet above the Rio Grande makes it the fifth highest bridge in the United States. The bridge spans for 1,280 feet and in 1966 the American Institute of Steel awarded the bridge the “Most Beautiful Steel Bridge” in the long span category. In addition, the bridge has appeared in several films.
The Enchanted trail starts in Taos on Highway 522 North with views of the flat plains which turns into rolling hills with a forest of Pines, Firs and Aspen trees as one enters the Carson National Forest which covers 1.5 million acres in the Sangre De Cristo Mountain Range. Taking highway 38 East from Questa for the next 18 miles will take one over the top of the Sangre De Cristo Mountain Range through the picturesque town of Red River at an elevation of 8,650 feet. As one crosses Bob Cat pass at an elevation of 9,820 feet, the decent down to Eagle Nest will take one through lush valleys of grass with the population of horses grazing in the hundreds. From Eagle Nest, take highway 64 back to Taos through the winding roads of the Sangre De Cristo Mountain Range back into the valley of Taos.
The High Road from Taos back to Espanola starts on Highway 518 where the climb back into the Sangre De Cristo Mountain Range begins. For the next forty miles the High Road route takes one across the upper portion of the mountain range through large portions of the Carson National Forest, providing some of the most spectacular views in Northern New Mexico’s mountains. Just before the small town of Chimayo the road descends back into the valley. In Chimayo one should visit the El Santuairo De Chimayo Church. This small Roman Catholic church was founded in 1816, and is known for its thick adobe walls, two bell towers and six-foot crucifix, which is considered an example of Spanish Colonial architecture.
From the heart of Santa Fe travel scenic highway 475 for sixteen miles to the Santa Fe Ski Basin at an elevation of 10,350 feet, one of the countries’ most diverse and unique destinations. Along the way one will enter the Santa Fe National Forest where Aspen’s grow in an abundance.
Puye Cliff Dwellings National Historic Landmark, features authentic cliff dwellings cut into the face of the cliff on two different levels. The tour starts with a van ride to the top of the Mesa, here one can see the stunning panorama view of Northern New Mexico, as well as a layout of the dwellings built on the top surrounding a courtyard. To get to the second level, one will take the same path as the Santa Clara Pueblo people did, a narrow winding foot path carved into the stone. This level stretched for 2,100 feet along the cliff wall with access into many of the dwellings. From here, a forty-foot ladder takes one down to the first level which reflects an impressive community site and runs the length of the mesa, over a mile long. From this level back down to the visitor center, a steep, but paved walkway is available.