The landscape in New Mexico is so vast, and the changes in altitude so gradual, that sometimes you don’t realize you’re driving uphill until the car kicks down a gear to maintain pace. Such is the case heading north from Santa Fe.
An hour later I’m at Española, a gritty little town, perhaps most useful for cheap gas at Walmart and a fork in the road that takes you either to Abiquiu and Chama on the left or Taos and Questa on the right.
In the 1930s, the trip from Santa Fe to Taos took all day; now it takes less than two hours.
Ten minutes before Taos is the Rift Trail, a wide-open mesa great for hiking, mountain-biking, horseback riding, and views of the Rio Grande Canyon. The trail is an easy 9-mile loop – there’s more information here, and a list all Taos mountain-bike trails here.
The trail is fast and flowy, with only three ways to get into trouble. One is to ride over the 600-ft drop into the canyon. Don’t do that. The second is to run over a sage bush. The trail slaloms through them, and they tend to obscure which way the next curve leads until you’re already in it. The third way is to run over a cactus and get a flat. There may be a fourth, running over a poisonous snake, but I didn’t see any of those.
Shout out to my helpful, new friend at Taos Ski Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Taos Ski Valley was run for decades by the same family, but recently sold and new capital is flowing in. That’s not always a good thing, but it can be.
The Rio Grande river, and the road that hugs it. The picture below shows a river crossing, the location of Orilla Verde campground – a nice place at the right time of year, most likely late spring and early fall.
Good times and great original music at Black Mesa Winery’s tasting room. With David Hinske, Kate Mann and Alana Grier.
Peter and Ann-Marie lured me onto a road bike the next day. I’ve done a fair amount of mountain biking in recent years, but have not been on a road bike in 15-yrs. We covered 28 miles at almost 7000-ft. Fortunately, they took it easy on me.
Rio Grande Bridge
Anne Marie and Fable (pictured above), Echo (below) plus Tali and the kitties (not pictured) let me camp in their driveway while in the Taos area. Echo was my special bud. The dogs are Salukis.
Didn’t venture into the city this trip except for groceries and a bike shop visit. It’s 40-min into downtown Taos from my camp, and there were other things to do, but got pics of a few houses I like. The road pictured above was my main route while there. It’s bumpy, and someone added a sticker to the road sign – AND HOW. Later, I got my Sharpie out and completed the border around it.
Nice FJ and trailer. Earlier there was a second FJ, same color as the trailer.
A shot of green, in nearby Arroyo Hondo
Next, climbing Wheeler Peak. At 13,161 feet, it’s NM’s tallest peak.