The High Road to Taos is a great scenic drive in northern New Mexico and a culturally rich drive. This part of New Mexico is an artist mecca and it’s also a great side trip while visiting either Santa Fe or Taos.
A 56 Mile Scenic Drive
The High Road to Taos drive is 56 miles in total length as it winds it’s way along the Sangre de Cristo Mountains between Santa Fe and Taos. Your drive will take you through art communities and it’s unique galleries as well as through Native American villages.
The south end of this drive begins at the intersection of US Hwy 285/84 and NM 503, about 17 miles north of Santa Fe. The northern end of this route is at Rancho de Taos where NM 518 meets NM 68. Most New Mexican’s however consider the end to be at the San Francisco de Asis Mission church which is in Rancho de Taos. Any road trip in northern New Mexico promises to be a scenic adventure with incredible photo opportunities, and the High Road to Taos is a perfect example.
A Culture Rich Scenic Drive
You’ll find that the High Road to Taos is dotted with towns, some quite small, that tell the story of the early years of Spanish rule. You may find that the local dialect is distinctive, and many area residents can claim ancestors who settled the towns in the 18th century.
The Spaniards left New Mexico (Nuevo Mexico) in about 1821 as a result of the Mexican Revolution. Mexico maintained rule until1846 when the U.S. took control during the Mexican American War.
Galleries Along the High Road to Taos
Many of the tourists who travel this road remark how remote these towns are. Some of these quaint high desert towns are geographically remote yet at the same time feature . unique art galleries. You’ll find that the authentic quality of New Mexican artwork is alive and well there and rival the galleries in Santa Fe and Taos. Artists have been inspired by the remarkable scenery along the High Road to Taos route.
This area of northern New Mexico receives it’s share of snow and cold weather. That’s one of the reasons that ski slopes in Santa Fe and Taos attract so many winter tourists. Some, not all, of the galleries along the High Road to Taos also stay open year round.
The High Road Art Tour
One special time along this famous route is during the last half of September. This is the time of the “High Road Art Tour‘ which takes place the last two weekends every September.
The High Road Art Tour gives you the opportunity to deal directly with the artists as well as to visit the tiny, historic Spanish Land Grant villages along the way. You’ll be able to browse multiple crafts and all types of traditional works along with contemporary painting and arts. This has to be one of the most unique art tour routes in all of the U.S. The High Road Art Tour is put together each year by the High Road Artisans, a volunteer-run organization. You may want to visit their website for additional information and event postings at highroadnewmexico.com
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Chimayo, New Mexico
The High Road to Taos will also pass by the town of Chimayo which is home to El Sancturario de Chimayo,
The Chimayo Sancturario is a world renown mission church and shrine that dates back to the very first Spanish settlers in the area and is considered a shrine where over 300,000 visitors travel there annually. Sancturario de Chimayo is a religious shrine. This is a must stop while driving the High Road route.
Northern New Mexico offers the tourist many interesting historic venues to visit along with several very scenic road trip routes. If time permits during your visits to either Santa Fe or Taos, the High Road to Taos is a road trip you don’t want to miss.
(Article and photos copyright Trips Into History)