Route names like “The High Road to Taos” and “The Enchanted Circle” give you some indication just how special this city escape north of Santa Fe is. Mix in some great New Mexican towns like Taos, Angel Fire, and Red River—with several significant historical sites—and you have a truly memorable ride. This escape features a variety of enticing roads that wind upon high desert vistas, through rugged alpine regions, and along the Rio Grande. It’s Southwest riding at its best, and the route is suitable for motorcycles in all but the depth of winter.
If there’s a route in the nation that has more diversity than this one, I can’t wait to ride it. Crimson-hued hills, expansive deserts, lakes and rivers, and conifer-rich forests are all on the docket. Historic missions and quaint villages also dot this visually stimulating region. Traffic on this double-loop route is light to moderate.
There are some tight curves on parts of the ride. While they are not overly technical, they require vigilance. As is the case throughout the Southwest, always watch for sand, animals, and fallen rocks. The route to Taos on the High Rd is often narrow with little shoulder margin. At higher elevations, water and even spots of ice may be present, especially in the late fall or early spring. In the lower regions, over-the-road washes may bring debris onto the roadway.
Red River is the approximate midpoint of the route, and Shotgun Willie’s is a great place to reflect on the morning ride over some BBQ or a burrito. Find it at 403 W Main St, Red River, NM, (303) 388-9601. www.shotgunwilliescafe.com
Points of Interest
This multi-level adobe structure has been continuously inhabited for over 1,000 years. The Native American community has the distinction of being both a World Heritage Site and a National Historic Landmark. The pueblo is open daily and there is a cost for admission. Find it at 120 Veterans Highway, Taos, NM. www.taospueblo.com
The San José de Gracia Church
This structure, built around the time of the American Revolution, is considered to be one of the best preserved examples of Spanish Colonial Mission architecture in the Southwest. Find it at Hwy 76, Truchas, NM.
El Santuario de Chimayo Historic Site
Known for its “healing dirt,” this historic mission is intensely important to those of the Catholic faith in the area. Dating back to 1816, the beautiful adobe sanctuary is the focus of annual religious pilgrimages. Find it at 15 Santuario Dr, Chimayo, NM. www.holychimayo.us