For a whirlwind immersion in Spanish mission history, Southwestern eats, surreal rockscapes, and sublime northern New Mexican art, this High Road–to–US 285 loop—a 175-mile drive from Santa Fe to Taos and back—delivers an action-packed escapade. Plus, in the summer and fall months, the hills spring to life with festivals. Highlights include Truchas’s High Road Art Tour, the Santa Fe Indian Market, and Fiestas de Taos.
Start a day early at Santa Fe’s luxurious Bishop’s Lodge by checking in for Spirit Hour, aka happy hour. Enjoy an alfresco Bishop’s Silver Coin Margarita by the outdoor adobe fireplace. For dinner in the city, Zacatlán Restaurant, a 2022 James Beard Award nominee for Best New Restaurant, specializes in traditional Mexican-meets-Southwestern fusion, like mole negro chilaquiles and lamb shank barbacoa.
In the morning, eat like the locals with a B.A.B.S. (big-ass breakfast sandwich) from Tesuque Village Market, a few minutes away on Bishop’s Lodge Road. Order your bites to-go for a meditative walk through the outdoor sculpture garden of Glenn Green Galleries, featuring the works of Melanie Yazzie, Khang Pham-New, and Troy Williams.
Inspired? Then backtrack up the road to continue your outdoor art tour at the five-acre Shidoni Gallery. Across the parking lot, Tesuque Glassworks offers a glimpse of artists shaping their creations throughout the day, plus you’ll want to peruse the cast-glass creations by iconic glass artist Charlie Miner.
With a clear head and full belly, it’s time to refuel your soul in Chimayó. Home to the “holy dirt” pilgrimage, Santuario de Chimayó is an 1800s Catholic church where many have reported physical healings, as evidenced by a vestibule lined with discarded crutches. Stock up on heaven-sent Chimayó red chile powder at the El Potrero Trading Post or sample the local specialty with a sopaipilla re-lleno at Rancho de Chimayó Restaurante. On your way out of town, Centinela Traditional Arts features an array of showstopping rugs, blankets, pillows, and other textiles by weavers Irvin, Lisa, and Emily Trujillo.
In Truchas, an 18th-century Hispanic settlement turned artist enclave, you’ll find folk-art gallery Eight Million Gods and eclectic Hand Artes Gallery, one of the town’s originals. Download the High Road Art Trail app and plan for the High Road Artisans Studio Tour in September.
Pause at Truchas Overlook for vistas of Quemado Valley and Truchas Peaks. The drive through Carson National Forest on NM 518 affords several other beautiful lookouts.
As you approach Taos on US 64, San Francisco de Asís Church, the more-than-200-year-old adobe sanctuary, is a quintessential High Road stop.
Hosted by the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts, the Santa Fe Indian Market is the state’s see-and-be-seen event of the year—the epicenter of Indigenous creative expression. Indian Market celebrates its centennial August 20–21, with more than 800 exhibiting artists, a Met-style gala, a retrospective exhibit at the New Mexico History Museum, and more.
After a stout cup of piñon coffee and blue-corn-and-juniper pancakes at Taos Goji Eco Lodge & Organic Goji Berry Farm, hit the heights at the Taos Ski Valley Via Ferrata. At 11,500 feet, on Kachina Peak, the climbing challenge—a three-hour thrill for beginners and pros alike—traverses a sky bridge, double-cable catwalk, and more.
Reward those courageous conquests at the Bavarian, the ski resort’s German-themed restaurant. As you make the return voyage on US 64 to US 285, Taos Earthship Visitor Center is a worthy pit stop for marveling at the trash-into-treasure architecture.
By now you’re really feeling all that adventuring. Rejuvenate those muscles at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa with a private outdoor soaking tub complete with a roaring fireplace (included with a suite, otherwise advance reservations recommended). Keep that chill vibe alive all the way back to Santa Fe with a quick stop at beloved Hernandez diner Socorro’s Restaurant for a Frito pie.
Person to Meet
Bill Franke recently turned 80, but the owner and curator of Hand Artes Gallery has no thoughts of retirement. “A Walmart greeter is not my destiny,” says Franke. “People visit the gallery from all over the world—I love hearing their stories.”
Truchas residents for more than 50 years, Franke and his wife, Margaret, champion northern New Mexico artists in a variety of mediums out of a humble showroom attached to their home. Throughout the years, many notables have also appreciated Franke’s discerning eye—from celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz, who bought a rug, to a Manhattan gallerist who “cleaned him out” of stunning functional furniture by El Valle’s Larry and Nancy Buechley for an Armory Show, New York’s premier modern-art showcase.
“I collect what I like,” he says, “contemporary art and its interaction with nature.”
Where to Stay
Start your adventure with a stay at Bishop’s Lodge, the gloriously restored 1920s ranch resort and home to the historic Archbishop Lamy's Chapel.
For a funky, off-the-beaten-path stay, hang your hat at Taos Goji Eco-Lodge, a gorgeous 40-acre property with famous artist- or writer-themed cabins, glamping tepees, and baby goats.