The High Road To Taos
There are two ways you can get from Santa Fe to Taos, neither of which involves an Interstate. The direct route is to take a 70 mile drive up US-285/US-84 to NM-68 and sail into Taos in a cool 1.5 hours.
The second way is known as The High Road To Taos, a 90-mile, 2-hour and 15 minute drive through the mountains and valleys of Santa Fe National Forest. Being the contrarians that we are, you already know which path we picked. (Though we did drive the NM-68 route when we left Taos and must admit that it’s pretty amazing as well.)
So what’s there to say about The High Road? Well, just like much of New Mexico, we noticed that in the span of only a few miles, you can cover a lot of different landscapes. You’ll find yourself on a high desert ridge, surrounded by rocks, dirt, and scrubby brush. Then ten miles later, you’re rolling up a snow-covered mountain surrounded by a dense coniferous forest.
Another thing that we found interesting was that there are art galleries everywhere! It doesn’t matter if you’re on the “busy” streets of Santa Fe and Taos or driving through Truchas, population 1200. We can see why artists are attracted to this region though. Between the landscape and the low population, there’s a lot of opportunity to get away from it all and clear your mind.
The best part of this scenic drive is that it’s really not that much further (20 miles and 45 minutes) to get off the beaten path and see these great landscapes.
Aside from the incredible landscapes, you get to drive right through several tiny towns. There’s Pojoaque and Rio Chiquito, Cordova and Truchas, and finally, Peñasco and Sipapu. Of these, you have no choice to drive through all but Truchas and Sipapu. We recommend taking a little extra time to see these towns too though.
Truchas is a little mountain town that is a throwback to the old Spanish colonial days. It has excellent views of the Truchas Peaks and takes all of 10 minutes to drive through and back to the main road.
Sipapu Ski Area is a good 8-10 miles off the High Road, but is worth the drive to see the sheer cliffs on one side of the road and the quintessential mountain creek on the other side with crystal clear water. Drive until you pass the ski area, then go a few more miles. You’ll be driving on what appears to be a road carved right into the side of the mountain.
At A Glance
From: Santa Fe, NM
To: Taos, NM
Length: 90 miles
Nearby Cities: Santa Fe, NM; Taos, NM
You knew we weren’t going to just leave you with some commentary about the drive. Here is our futile attempt to capture the gorgeous scenery in a photo.