Monday, November 8, 2010

The High Road to Taos

Our first evening in Santa Fe, we met a fellow traveler named Aaron at a local bar on the outskirts of the plaza.  He told us about the High Road to Taos.  From Santa Fe to Taos, several routes exist.  Sure, you can take the fast way, down the highway like some yokel from Albuquerque.  Or in true traveler fashion, you can take the mythical sounding High Road to Taos, which sounds about as lovely as it is.  The high road to Taos passes through many villages and old adobe churches, some with magical healing powers.   

The road begins in Santa Fe, where you will take off heading North, perhaps gripping some tasty rations from Sage Bakehouse bought earlier in the morning.  Though I dressed down the conventional highway route to Taos, it must be said that driving anywhere in this region is gorgeous.  The road begins on a common highway path, heading north up the 285.  Our first stop in Tesuque, presented us with strange rock formations, offbeat art workshops, and a smoky road that highlighted the light piercing the trees overhead.  This is when I knew we were going to have a splendid afternoon forging a path north. 

Stopping in Tesuque, we checked out the local scene 
 Some random sculptures 

 A shaded glass workshop
 The fields of Tesuque 

Camel Rock 

After Tesuque, the road continues north on 285, and after passing a few casinos, you will begin to yearn for some back country charm.  At Nambe, the divergence takes place.  The old proverbial fork in the road is laid out before you, and if you are in a hurry you continue north on the highway.  We headed east towards Chimayo, which houses the Santuario de Chimayo, a very holy place for Catholics.  

 The unbelievably cool thing about traveling north is the change of environment.

 The lonely road 

 We passed this hilltop shrine and had to stop for a photo opportunity 

 The moon hung low in the sky

 When we finally arrived in Chimayo, we were greeted by a rogue lab
 Outside of the Santuario is a infertile field headlined by these massive rock made crucifixes 

 The surrounding area is quite stunning 

 A path up towards the Santuario, where 300,000 pilgrims visit per year 

 The old adobe Santuario 

 A young toe headed pilgrim 

 This is as far as I could get with a camera indoors.  It was a pretty holy scene. People praying and chanting with one wall lined with abandoned crutches and pictures of Jesus.

 Here is the petite Santuario.  The main draw for this place is a hole in the ground that holds some holy dirt.  People travel from all over the world for the healing powers of this dirt.  Some rub it on their bodies.  Some bottle it to take home.  Some even eat the dirt.  Allegedly, many have been healed of maladies following their pilgrimage to this holy place.  Of course, the internet is filled with those that are skeptical about the power of "El Santuario" and those that allege the healing powers of this magical place.   

 The surrounding countryside 

 A Mosaic 

 A strange statue in an old building near Santuario de Chimayo 

 Kristin in her new jacket 

 Our little rental car 

 A store in Chimayo

We bailed out on Chimayo, and decided to go explore a local point of interest we saw on a old faded map back by El Santuario.  It seemed that just outside of Chimayo was a lake called Santa Cruz.  The drive there hugged mountains on one side and plummeted down hundreds of feet on the other.  It was the exciting sort of drive that seems to happen frequently in James Bond movies.  Sadly, our chariot was not some fancy Aston Martin, but rather a Chevy Cobalt.  I stayed well within the limits of our underpowered auto.  After slowly winding our way up to about 7000 feet, we finally arrived at the lake.
 The lake comes into view  as a UFO tears by overhead

 It was really really cold 

 So thankfully, we would not be subjected to the dangerous undertow 

 The lake was very low, and completely abandoned

 except for some Indian fishermen 

 They headed out to deeper water 

 I liked finding this school bus sign up in the mountains.
 Show capped peaks in the distance

 We passed this church on the way back to the High Road to Santa Fe
After Lake Santa Cruz, we got back on track and began heading towards Truchas along the High Road to Santa Fe.  Truchas is a fairly run down village, about 8000 feet towards the sky.  We sort of just nosed around for about 10 minutes and headed on our way.  It looked like it had seen better days.
 Truchas along the high road to Taos 

 AN old abandoned restaurant baking in the midday sun 

 Some grafitti 


 The main raod through Truchas is pretty impressively unimpressive  

 Some local flavor 

After basking in the run down and almost depressing Truchas, we sped north to Las Trampas.  Las Trampas is home to the San Jose de Garcia Church and herds of roaming Buffalo.  We stuck out on locating the Buffalo, but the church was very cool.  Around this point on the high road, the vegetation begins to change towards typical mountain fare.  It is very dramatic to start out in the desert and slowly rise up towards mountainous surroundings.

      San Jose de Garcia Church HDR

 A small crucifix 

 The empty church 

 Las Trampas eatery.  We think these places only open up during the high season, which may partially explain the desolation of our previous city, Truchas.

 This dog waited on the porch to chase after oncoming cars 
 The high road begins to get a little higher

 All of a sudden, you look out on this and wonder how it all happened so fast 

And suddenly, you pull up to Taos.  I will cover Taos is my next blog. 


  1. There is no such thing as the "Fast" way to Taos, whether you are a "yokel" or not. There is only the high road and the river road. The river road has a few pretty harrowing sections, and you generally get behind someone traveling at about 20 mph because the windy road is so narrow between the cliffs and the river.

    And with regard to Truchas, do you SEE any industry there where folks can make a living? It's called poverty. New Mexico has the second lowest per capita income in the U.S. - and that's considering there are numerous hollywood types who live here, making the poor people even poorer.

    Your flippant remarks are ignorant and insulting.


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