Road Trip to Taos, New Mexico
via La Veta Pass, San Luis, Eagle Nest, Raton, and Trinidad.
(6th to 10th October 2011)

Wildlife En Route     Accommodations    Bed and Breakfasts    Hotels    Sights 

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Taos, New Mexico has been on my dream list as a travel destination for many a year.  I finally got to realize this dream last weekend when I got yet another great car rental rate and decided to head south before the winter set in.  What should have been a spectacular en route sightseeing trip through La Veta Pass, turned into something else.  Not used to driving in snowy conditions, I drove from La Veta Pass right into Taos through driving rain and snow.  So, I didn't get to see the beautiful fall colors, but in its own way, it was really pretty.  Thankfully I didn't have to drive in the night because just after San Luis I noticed signs for wild horses, then one for cattle, and then another for wildlife, all of which could be in the road!  See the route I took.

Going from 5,900 feet to 6,969 feet wasn't bad but my ears popped a few times in different places high up in the mountain passes.  The approach into Taos was pretty, and as the rain and cloud lifted, I was able to get a glimpse of the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the distance.  I almost burst into tears when I realized where I was, finally.  I made my way to my first stop of the trip, the La Posada De Taos Bed and Breakfast.

(TIP) I lost cell phone service/coverage and didn't have access to my phone the entire time I was in Taos.  It came back on outside of Taos, around Eagle Nest on the return trip.  (I use a pay-as-you-go service from AT&T.)  Make sure you're covered if you're going to use your phone a lot.

The next morning after a sumptuous breakfast, I headed out to see the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, the fifth highest in the country at 650 feet high.  (Drive out north on US-64 then head west on US-64 towards the gorge—signs are everywhere).  It was still cloudy and I managed to walk halfway across the bridge.  It's a little scary (horrifying if you're vertiginous) but worth the view.  I did feel nervous looking down and had to hold onto the railing, especially when cars came past and rattled things.  A couple of miles north of the bridge you'll come across the Earthship Biotecture visitors' center.  I stopped in for a brief visit and to learn how you can live off the land without farming or much in the way of paying for heating and cooling utilites.

I went back to the gorge on Saturday because it had snowed on Friday night and I wanted to see if the light was any different.  Not much snow and the light wasn't that different, but I saw some big-horned sheep about 50 yards from the south entrance to the bridge, and I met Ted Trujillo and his nephew, both artists, setting up a stall to sell their artwork.  I met them again in town the next day.  The colors they use are phenomenal and very enticing.

After seeing the gorge bridge and the earthships, I stopped at the Millicent Rogers Museum.  Millicent Rogers (1902-1953) was a New York heiress who moved to Taos and had an enormous influence over how we now view this place and what is typical of the area.  The museum houses a vast array of Southwestern art and is well worth a visit even if it's just to see the jewelry.
(TIP) Make sure you bring along a small selection of warmer clothes as you never know what the weather will do at such high elevations.

There was still much of the day left so I got back onto Hwy-64 south for a few miles.  Hwy-64 becomes Paseo del Pueblo Norte to the north and Paseo del Pueblo Sur to the south of the center of town.  I was looking for the San Francisco de Asis Church.  As usual, I got sidetracked either because I couldn't turn where I wanted to (I never mind going on a bit further and turning where and when it's safe to do so and then doubling back to my original destination—alleviates stress and impatience having to wait for traffic) and went on a bit passed the church.  Quite by accident I found the Adobe & Pines Inn Bed and Breakfast tucked away behind some trees.  I pulled in because I knew they had a labyrinth (the first of four I discovered) and I wanted to walk it.  I also met two of their cats, both of whom were friendly and solicited much scratching and attention from me.  The labyrinth is lovely and worth a visit.  It was fortuitous as it turned out, that I'd calmed myself down on the labyrinth before heading to the San Francisco de Asis Church, which is a must-see vision.  Unusual adobe architecture and a sight to behold.  Built between 1777 and 1816 and featured in Georgia O'Keefe paintings and photographed by Ansel Adams and many others.

By now it was late afternoon and I still had a little sightseeing to do in town, so I headed back north.  It was about 5pm and it started to rain so I made my way to my accommodation for the second night, at Touchstone Inn Bed and Breakfast.  It rained for about four or five hours, and the next morning I discovered it had snowed!  Before I called it a night though, and after unpacking and seeing my room, I went looking for something to eat.  Michael's Kitchen is famous for serving breakfast any time of the day, and seeing as I'm on a mission to discover the best huevos rancheros in the southwest, that's where I went and that's what I had.  I have to say that so far, Michael's huevos rancheros IS the best!  So far.  Huevos Rancheros at Michael's Kitchen is made with two eggs, hash browns, beans, tortillas, green vegetarian chili (with mushrooms and a kick) and melted cheese.  You can choose regular green or red chili.  This restaurant is a favorite with the locals and the car park is always packed.

The second day, Saturday, was all about museums and a walking tour of the Historic District.  I found some free parking off Kit Carson Road and went walking around.  I passed the Kit Carson Home and Museum en route, and I came across many beautiful art galleries which you can pop in and out of at your leisure.  One I did pop into was Stray Arts Gallery who donate to a local animal shelter.  I also walked along Ledoux Street which is eclectic and a gorgeous out-of-the-way diversion.  This is where The Harwood Museum of Art is located and well worth a stop.  It houses a collection of black-and-white photos, sculptures, prints, and paintings.  Beautiful wooden floors and large open spaces make this a comfortable and welcoming museum.  After the museum I walked up to Guadalupe Plaza which was quaint, then off to the Taos Plaza which was abuzz with live bands playing a variety of music, the Hotel La Fonda de Taos, tourist information, galleries, and tourist shops full of vivid blankets and crockery, hats, key chains, mugs, tiles, you name it.

A spot of wine tasting at La Chiripada on Bent Street is a welcome diversion, and I loved their Port.  I also went to Govenor Bent's House Museum and Gallery but didn't do the tour.  Other places to see is the Moby Dickens Book store.  I stepped into a gorgeous art gallery called Earth and Spirit Gallery to find the resident artist, Shari Ubechel painting.  (132 Bent Sreet).  Do stop by and admire this lovely gallery.  As you walk around you'll come across so many gorgeous shops and narrow streets which beckon a look-see.  Don't rush as you'll miss out.  I noticed so many huge bunches of chilis decorating shop fronts and homes which I found so colorful and welcoming.  After all, Hatch, NM is the chili capital of the world!  I also saw lots of purple flowering bushes and yellow shrubs along the roadside.

In the afternoon I went looking for the Mabel Dodge Luhan house and found it at the end of a long, narrow, winding road.  There are a few large homes, one of which is a conference center.  To the right and on a slight rise is the Mabel Dodge Luhan House.  You can walk around the courtyard which is beautiful, and you'll get a good view of the house itself.  You are allowed to go inside but not upstairs.  You'll be in good company as the likes of Georgia O'Keeffe, Ansel Adams, Carl Jung, D.H. Lawrence, and Bob Dylan (when Dennis Hopper owned the house for a while in the '70s) visited.  I noticed a hive of activity outside with blue birds (I've not identified them yet) that were going about their business.  Also, this is where I discovered my third labyrinth.

Tired and hungry after a long day running around, I headed to my third B&B, Dreamcatcher Bed and Breakfast.  Song's Asian Restaurant is where I settled for supper as they were the only ones I could find at short notice who had any curry on the menu.  I had their Thai Green Chicken Curry which was very spicy and they served enough for me to take back for the next night's meal.  Perfect for a cold evening.  There was broccoli, yellow squash, carrots, bell peppers, onions, cauliflower, mushrooms and celery.  Yummy.  It was back to the Dreamcatcher for a cozy night's sleep, but not before checking emails on their free wi-fi.

My last full day in Taos was spent partially at the Taos Pueblo, a Native American community in existence since the 1200s, and they still don't use electricity or running water.  It's a village-style set-up with lots of homes and the famous San Geronimo Church, which was built in 1850.  It's home to many who speak their unrecorded and unwritten native language, Tiwa.  The Red Willow Creek cuts across the site and is the life source of the people.  You can tour around but be respectful of their way of life and photo restrictions.  This is a living and working community and you can buy mementoes and souvenirs from the many shops inside homes.  You aren't able to go into the homes, but one or two shops extend further than the front room so you'll get an idea of the size.
I took the Hail Creek Road towards the Pueblo and returned at 6pm for the exquisite light at this time of the day.  I got my favorite photos of Taos here.  The area outside the Taos Pueblo belongs to the Pueblo, and is governed and looked after without interference from the general public.  Their goal is to maintain the more than 100,000 acres of land by protecting fish, wildlife, trees, soils, water and everything else.  The Taos Pueblo is a World Heritage landmark.  The Pueblo is pet-friendly but bear in mind that there are many dogs running free in the area.  There is a little casino on the road to the Pueblo, if you fancy a flutter.

The rest of the day I strolled around the town center and stretched my legs in the Kit Carson Park and Cemetery, where he is buried, along with Mabel Dodge Luhan and several war veterans.  I also went into the Cabot Plaza which was disappointing as it was just a lot of empty shops.  There were two stores out front, one of which was so expensive but their goods were beautiful, and from Mexico.  Then it was off to settle in at the Sun God Lodge for my last night in this beautiful place I hope to visit again.  I wasn't up to more driving but if you are, you can do the 85-mile Enchanted Circle drive around Taos.

I was up really early on Monday morning to start the home stretch.  I had a sausage breakfast burrito from McDonald's on their $ menu (bless them), which was absolutely delicious.  Can't beat that for a quick breakfast, and for just one dollar!  I took Kit Carson Road, which becomes US-64 east and headed on my way.  However, because of the recent snow, my trip out of the mountains took so long because I kept stopping to take photos.  The winding road wended its way through beautiful scenery and it seemed a sin not to slow down and enjoy it.  Naturally there were those drivers in a hurry so I pulled over a few times to let them pass.  After Angel Fire and Eagle Nest, the land became flatter and there was more wildlife to be seen, especially around Cimarron.  This is where I pulled over to take photos of antelope, buffalo, and a couple of eagles.  I also called Enterprise to extend my trip as I didn't want to rush home.  Once I joined I-25 north, I came upon the town of Raton, and stopped for a look around.  After the Raton Pass, I stopped in Trinidad, my last stop, before the last leg of my trip.  The views of the distant mountains were incredible.


These are some of my favorite photos of Taos, and how I appreciate other artists' love of this time of day, just before sunset.  If you're a photographer or artist, you'll find plenty of things to photograph or paint or sketch.  Look out for the many murals on any number of walls.




Labyrinths
Labyrinths date back to Greek Mythology and have been around since early Roman times.  There are many different kinds of labyrinths.  The ones used nowadays are Classical ones, and there are some labyrinth designs used as Native American pottery decorations.  There are and were many uses for a labyrinth, but more recently they are used to meditate and clear one's mind while walking or meandering.  It's a very peaceful exercise.  I discovered four of them while in and around Taos, only one of which I walked.  It's a quiet and contemplative exercise and difficult (for me) to do when there are lots of people about.  Many people use them to meditate as they walk.  The first one I found was at Abobe & Pines B&B; the second one was at the Touchstone Inn B&B (difficult to see as the ground was muddy and the spirals were made of dark rocks); the third one I located was at the Mabel Dodge Luhan house, and the fourth one at the Presbyterian Church, just behind a wall bordering the busy street, and there were people there enjoying it so I gave it a miss.  For more information on labyrinths, visit the Wikipedia website.

Here is some of the WILDLIFE I came across in and around Taos (more around Cimarron going east).







Accommodations

La Posada De Taos Bed and Breakfast

Upon arriving in Taos, and after looking around at what I could while driving, I made my way directly to my first stop for the night at La Posada De Taos Bed and Breakfast in the Historic District, up a winding road to a quiet and beautiful old home.  I was met by Brad who welcomed me and gave me a quick tour before showing me to my room (the Monterrey) which was very comfortable and warm.  I had a kiva fireplace which I didn't need and a very comfortable bed with the most wonderful sheets!  This room had two entrances: one onto the front courtyard which was charming and colorful with pots of flowers and a pagoda and benches and chairs.  The other door opened onto a communal patio.  The small shower had three dispensers which housed shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel.  Perfect!  The beautiful dining area, with great big wooden ceiling beams and a long table, is where all the guests congregated in the morning for breakfast.  Breakfast consisted of fresh fruit with yogurt and home-made granola followed by baked eggs and a turkey sausage patty.  Delicious.  Orange juice and "blue juice" were also available.  I noticed the lovely artwork and artifacts selectively scattered around in the main room of the house, where there were DVDs you could watch or a bookcase from which to choose a good book.  Free wi-fi.    Contacts and links to their website are below.  I would recommend this as a place to consider staying at when you visit Taos.  It's central, quiet, and easy to get to.  Check beforehand regarding pets.
My TripAdvisor Review.


Touchstone Inn Bed and Breakfast

I was welcomed and shown around by Brad who couldn't have been more friendly.  A family estate, beautifully set among trees and alongside a flowing stream, it was easy to settle in and feel at home.  Amber's mother is an artist and the previous innkeeper, and her art is all around the house for everyone to enjoy.  You are free to walk around the grounds, and keep a lookout for their labyrinth, the second one I discovered in Taos.  Because it had rained and snowed, I didn't walk the labyrinth as the ground was too slushy.  There were lots of people to chat to and some sat in the large sitting room where there was a roaring fire and a grand piano, if anyone felt like playing.  Breakfast by Brad consisted of his famous green chili with my choice of egg (scrambled) (sorry, I forgot to take a photo) with the customary coffee and orange juice.  My room, number 3 on the second floor, was large and had two big beds, a TV, a coffee maker, and was warm enough despite it snowing outside.  There was a fireplace but I didn't use it.  An ice bucket, wine glasses and bottle opener were supplied if you wanted some wine in the room.  I used a breakfast table downstairs and their wi-fi to check emails and send a few messages as my phone still didn't work.  Contacts and links to their websites are below.  I would recommend this B&B as it's quiet and away from the center of town.
My TripAdvisor Review.

Dreamcatcher Bed and Breakfast

John and Prudy's energetic dog Jake bounded out to welcome me.  Nestled among huge trees is their lovely home and cottages which make up their B&B.  I had the Kachina room which was delightful.  Beautifully decorated in Southwestern decor with green floor tiles that were warm, a huge and very comfortable bed (once again, fabulous sheets), a fireplace which I didn't need to use, lamps, TV, ice bucket and glasses, chair and small table, and closet space.  I was particularly impressed by the small extra touches on hand, such as a hairdryer, an iron and ironing board, the Home Medics gadget which had a variety of "noises" to put you to sleep, a lip balm, CD player, magazines, mints, toothbrush and toothpaste holder, Q-tips and cotton make-up remover pads in a glass jar, and body lotion.  All touches to make you feel very much at home.  The room also had a ceiling fan and fireplace, neither of which I needed to use.  The shower was like standing in a thick mist which I found very relaxing, and there was also a three-space dispenser with soap, shampoo and conditioner—very convenient!  The bathroom also had a mini fridge for your own edibles and drinks, as well as two bottles of water.  There was of course, a dreamcatcher above the bed.
The dining room in the main house had a huge table and a side table where there was endless coffee, tea, cookies, brownies, candies, and an ice machine!  I found the folder of menus particularly helpful when thinking about where to eat that night.  Breakfast was served from 7.45 am and I had oatmeal brûlé followed by eggs florentine (or a fruit dish) which were fantastic, a little fruit, and a fresh muffin.  Of course coffee and/or tea and/or orange juice and cranberry juice were on offer.  It seems that John and Prudy have thought of everything to make your stay as comfortable as possible, and I would very highly recommend staying there.  One couple at breakfast said that they'd come especially for John's breakfasts!  Contacts and links to their websites are below.  This B&B is tucked away just a short walk from the center of town, and is in a very peaceful setting.
My TripAdvisor Review.


Sun God Lodge

I found the Sun God Lodge on Paseo Del Pueblo Sur, a little way out of town, but not inconvenient.  I was met by Cindy who was very welcoming.  My room was diagonally opposite the office and across a grassy courtyard.  I had room number 26 on the ground floor in one of two two-story buildings.  The other rooms were set in a horseshoe configuration and were single storied.  There was plenty of parking and the premises was well lit at night.  I was worried that the traffic noise would bother me, but, I had the best sleep in Taos, perhaps because I had done so much and was exhausted.  I had the leftovers from my Thai Green Curry for supper before enjoying a shower and hitting the sack.  The room was basic but comfortable and had a coffee-maker (perfect for my early morning departure) and was a comfortable temperature.  I used their sumptuous citrus body soap which was delicate and soothing on my skin.  I liked the Southwestern decor.  I was very happy in this lodging, and it's very affordable.  Pet friendly with non-smoking and smoking rooms available.  Free wi-fi.  Contacts and links to their websites are below.
My TripAdvisor Review.


Route
Once again the Colorado Springs airport terminal was my starting point.  I headed south on I-25 to Walsenberg, where I turned off and headed west on US-160 through La Veta Pass to Fort Garland.  Here I turned left/south onto CO-159 through San Luis to the New Mexico border (where CO-159 becomes NM-522 and then US-64) towards Questa and ultimately, Taos.  My return journey was east along US-64 through Angel Fire, Eagle Nest, Cimarron and to the I-25 North to Raton.  After the Raton Pass I stopped at Trinidad before the last leg of my trip back home north on I-25.  The trip south took four hours.  I took my time going north but it should add an hour to your journey (more if you're going to Denver).

Contacts

Enterprise Rent-A-Car (Colorado Springs Airport Terminal, CO):  A Mazda 2 for 4 days @ $12.59 (I kid you not!) p/day with unlimited mileage (plus I extended my rental for another day for a total of 5 days) = $95.49 (including taxes) plus your choice of insurance and gas.  It pays to keep one's eyes open for good deals online.  I got approximately 33 mpg with two mountain passes to contend with.  Smallish trunk, and it turns on a dime with great acceleration.  I did a total of 617 miles.
Enterprise offered me a great service (they don't offer the "we'll pick you up" service from the airport) and gladly accommodated my rental extension by one day.  They were polite and friendly.  I highly recommend you try Enterprise.
Web: www.enterprise.com  Tel: (719) 591-6644   Toll-free (Reservations): 1-800-261-7331   Toll-free (Customer Service): 1-800-264-6350     Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/enterpriserentacar
Accommodation Contacts
La Posada De Taos - 309 Juanita Lane, Taos, NM 87571 (or P.O. Box 1118, Taos, NM 87571)
Tel: (575) 758-8164   Toll-free: 1-800-645-4803
Web: www.laposadadetaos.com
E-mail: contact@laposadadetaos.com
Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TaosBedandBreakfast
Free wi-fi.
Rates: from $119 to $229 depending on when you visit and what size accommodation you require.
Visit their website for up-to-date information and rates.  Pet friendly but you must check beforehand.

Touchstone Inn - 110 Mabel Dodge Lane, Taos, NM 87571 (or P.O. Box 1885, Taos, NM 87571)
Tel: (575) 758-0192
Web: www.touchstoneinn.com
E-mail: touchstoneinn@gmail.com
Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Touchstone-Inn-Spa-and-Gallery
Free wi-fi.
Rates: From $100 to $250 depending on what your requirements are and when you'll be there.
Please visit their website for up-to-date information and rates.

Dreamcatcher Bed and Breakfast - 416 La Lomita Road, Taos, NM 87571 (or P.O. Box 2069, Taos, NM 87571)
Tel (toll-free): 1-888-758-0613
Web: www.dreambb.com
E-mail: dream@dreambb.com
Facebook at http://www.DreamcatcherBandB
Free wi-fi.
Rates: From $125 upwards and dependent upon which type of accommodation you require and when you plan to travel.
Please visit their website for up-to-date information and rates.

Sun God Lodge - 919 Paseo Del Pueblo Sur, Taos, NM 87571
Tel: (575) 758-3162   Toll-free: 1-800-821-2437
Web: www.sungodlodge.com
E-mail: sungod@taosnet.com
Facebook: No
Free wi-fi.
Rates: From $59 upwards and dependent upon which type of accommodation you require and when.
Please visit their website for up-to-date information and rates.  I did see pets but please check when making your reservations.

Sights and Museums and Galleries
There are any number of brochures and pamphlets available around the city.  If you're into galleries, do look for a copy of the Taos Gallery Guide as it's a compact booklet with stunning color photos.
Taos Pueblo - P.O. Box 1846, Taos, NM 87571
Tel: (575) 758-1028
Website: www.taospueblo.com
E-mail: tourism@taospueblo.com
Facebook Yes
Visit their website for Visitor Etiquette and Festivals and senior and group rates.
Fee: $10 per person plus $6.00 per camera.
Expensive with the camera fee but there are plenty of photo ops to take advantage of.

Earthship Biotecture - P.O. Box 1041, Taos, NM 87571
Tel: (575) 751-0462
Website: www.earthship.com
E-mail: Email online on the website.
Facebook Yes
FEE: $7.00 but I would check beforehand.
Quite interesting but I didn't think it was worth paying $7 as you can see all there is to see in about 10 minutes.  They have an interesting video you can watch.

Millicent Rogers Museum - P.O. Box A/1502 Millicent Rogers Road, Taos, NM 87571
Tel: (505) 758-2462
Website: www.millicentrogers.org
E-mail: mrm@millicentrogers.org
Facebook Yes
FEE: Yes, check their website or email them.
A lovely museum full of gorgeous jewelry and rugs and paintings and more.

Harwood Museum of Art - 238 Ledoux Street, Taos, NM 87571
Tel: (575) 758-9826
Website: www.harwoodmuseum.org
E-mail: info@harwoodmuseum.com
Facebook Yes
FEE: $10.00 Adults   $8.00 Seniors and Students
Worth visiting as it's comfortable and easy to get around and lots of interesting exhibits.

Michael's Kitchen - 304 Paseo Del Pueblo Norte, Taos, NM 87571
Tel: (575) 758-1028
Website: www.michaelskitchen.com
E-mail: breakfast@michaelskitchen.com
Facebook No
Very varied menu with lots to choose from.  Homey atmosphere both at the counter or at any of the tables.


La Chiripada Winery & Vineyards - Wine Tasting in Taos at 103 Bent Street or visit their winery on Highway 75, 2.5 miles from junction 68 in Dixon (south of Taos).
Tel: (575) 751-1311 (Dixon)   Toll-free: 1-800-528-7801
P.O. Box 191, Dixon, NM 87527
Website: www.lachiripada.com
E-mail: chiripa@lachiripada.com
Facebook No
Free to taste, and you can buy wines.

Stray Arts Gallery - 113 Paseo Del Pueblo Norte, Taos, NM 87571
Tel: (575) 758-0780
Website: www.strayhearts.org
E-mail: dnstrayhearts@qwestoffice.net
Facebook Yes
A nice selection of artwork including paintings, sculptures, cards, and jewlery.
Mabel Dodge Luhan House - 240 Morada Lane, Taos, NM 87571
Tel: (575) 751-9686   Toll-free: 1-800-846-2235
Website: www.mabeldodgeluhan.com
E-mail: mabel@mabeldodgeluhan.com
Facebook Yes
Free to walk around the grounds.

Prices quoted were correct at the time, October 2011.


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