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High Winter Road to Taos: Desert snowflakes and hot springs

The perfect desert scenic drive for a lazy winter weekend...

  • 11
  • 04:02
  • 142 mi
  • $23
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Created by Discount Tire - November 9th 2016

Beginning in Pojoaque, New Mexico, the High Road to Taos meanders through small towns, passing through deserts and snow-capped mountain peaks, with unforgettable stops at Rio Grande Gorge State Park and Manby Hot Springs. To make the most of this beautiful drive, stop into a local Discount Tire for a free tire inspection to ensure your tires are up for the adventure.

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Just north of Sante Fe, you'll find the Pueblo of Pojoaque. This community has deep roots in the past, having been settled by Native Americans centuries ago. Learn about the rich culture and history of the tribe here at the Poeh Cultural Center & Museum and the Buffalo Thunder Art Collection, eat inventive Southwestern cuisine at Red Sage or classic diner grub at Turquoise Trail, check out a casino, and enjoy the unique flair of the town. Before you set out on the High Road, definitely ensure that your car is winter weather-ready... pack some salt and an ice scraper, and make sure you've got winter tires on!


Photo Credit: Flickr/Mike Fisher


Nambe, NM

The Pueblo of Nambé has existed since the 14th century, well before Spanish explorers met the tribe, which has been playing an important role in New Mexico's history ever since. Keep your eyes peeled in shops around here for their distinctive Nambé Polychrome pottery, hike through Nambé Falls Recreation Area just above the pueblo in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, contact Buffalo Tours to meet the pueblo's resident buffalo herd, and admire the jewelry and silver crafted by local artists.

Cordova and nearby Chimayo are adorable little towns that define the culture and architecture found in Northern New Mexico. El Santuario de Chimayo is a gorgeous adobe Roman Catholic Church that has been declared a National Historic Landmark. It was built in honor of legends that hold that Jesus appeared to people in the Chimayo area, and many make pilgrimages to the church in hopes of a miracle. The church also happens to be stunning under a light blanket of snow. There's also El Potrero Trading Post, where you can sample the famous chiles from the region, and Trujillo's Weaving Shed, where you can watch as weavers craft intricate and beautiful designs from nothing but yarn.



Rio Grande Gorge State Park is home to some awesome hikes and trails, many of which feature petroglyphs and majestic rock formations. Take a leisurely stroll along the river, or just soak up the view of the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge and Wheeler Peak, New Mexico's highest mountain. It honestly looks like a mini version of the Grand Canyon hidden away in northern New Mexico.


Santa Fe, NM

The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge is another way to experience the beauty of the river canyon. At 565 feet above the gorge floor, the steel deck arch bridge is the 7th highest bridge in the US. It's free to stroll across and soak up the views directly down. It's been featured in tons of films and movies, and no wonder... it's definitely a show-stopper of a bridge. You'll find tons of local craftspeople selling their wares near the parking area; it's part of the experience and these little stands are a nice way to support local businesses and get some souvenirs at more reasonable prices.

You'll probably be hungry after all that exploring, so warm up with a meal at the Farmhouse Cafe and Bakery. They feature tons of vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, organic, locally-sourced, and generally healthy and green options. Order a side of red or green chile with your bison burger, empanadas, breakfast scramble, or other meal... it's a local specialty. Finish it all off with a scoop of Taos Cow Ice Cream atop one of their freshly-made baked goods. It's a meal that'll make you feel as good as it tastes.

There are lots of natural springs in the Taos area, but only a few are hot springs, with geothermal heat keeping the water at a nice 90-100 degree temperature. It's a mostly-undeveloped spring that anyone can visit. The route out follows a dirt road and requires a short hike through some kind of rocky terrain, but once you reach the springs, you can soak in the mineral-rich water to your heart's content.

Photo Credit: Flickr/KDMNSF

The cozy, artsy little town of Taos marks the end of the route. It's the perfect home base for incredible winter adventures! Skiing, hot air ballooning (yes, even in the winter), snowshoeing, snowmobiling and more can be found within a short distance of the town. If you'd rather stay indoors, there are tons of art museums, galleries, shops, spas, restaurants, and museums (including the fascinating Kit Carson Home and Museum).

Definitely make sure to stop by the Taos Pueblo, which continuously housed people for over 1000 years. It's both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Historic Landmark, and it's considered sacred by the tribes here, so take your time and use your visit as a chance for some reflection.

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As you wind your way through New Mexico to Taos, you'll experience a unique culture that is unlike anything anywhere else in the world. Take your time, stop to visit the small towns along the way, and enjoy the winter peace along the High Road.

Discount Tire

Discount Tire—With over 900 neighborhood stores across the nation, no matter where your adventure leads you, Discount Tire is there to help you along the way. Whether you’re passing through Taos or finding yourself in Northern Door, you can count on Discount Tire for friendly, safe service.