"The High Road to Taos"
For Valentine's Day weekend, we drove down to New Mexico and took a room in Taos for a couple of nights. It was our goal to drive The High Road to Taos starting in Santa Fe, driving north to Taos. We wanted to visit all of the historical churches and Spanish communities along the route, at least as many as we could.
The High Road to Taos runs through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains between Santa Fe and Taos New Mexico, passing through Spanish land grant villages, Pueblo Indian communities, mountain and high desert scenery. Along the route is a scattering of artist shops with a good variety of Southwestern art.
This trip was a bit hindered by mud. The were two places that we wanted to visit, but once we saw the road, decided to wait until drier weather. Even with tire chains it would have been messy.
But we did see most of what we came for.
The Drive to Taos
The three windmills just north of Walsenburg, Colorado on a frosty morning.
The Photo Wagon on the La Veta Pass.
The burn scar on the La Veta Pass.
The second morning, Valentine's Day, we drove from Taos to Santa Fe, New Mexico to start the drive along, The High Road to Taos. Here in Pilar, NM., this beautiful wall and old "Pilar Cafe" sign caught our attention and forced a short stop.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
The Loretto Chapel isn't on the The High Road to Taos, but it is close enough and interesting enough that we wanted to include it in our drive. We had been to Santa Fe on other occasions but never seemed to get to the chapel.
The chapel is wonderful example of Gothic Revival architecture, and is most readily known for its "Miraculous Stair" that rises from the floor to the choir loft. We'll let you discover the legends of its creation on your own.
The spiral staircase has been photographed a thousand times from every angle. I wanted to created my own vision and I quickly released that there were three challenges, crowds of people, steepness and low light. Here is what I finished with.
The entire chapel is rich with religious art and icons.
Santuario de Chimayo
Chimayo, New Mexico
Constructed around 1816 the sanctuary has become one of the most visited sites in New Mexico. It is most noted for the faith based healing dirt that can be obtained in one of the back rooms. During the Holy Week of Easter crowds approaching 30,000 make pilgrimages to the sanctuary, some walking from as far as Albuquerque, 90 miles away. Two other small chapels are within a few steps of the Santuario, making this first stop on the High Road well worth it.
Truchas, New Mexico
At Truchas we planned to visit the Nuestra Senora del Rosario Church built in 1764. However, when we saw the amount of mud on the road off the pavement, we decided to wait for a drier day. We did see this church, but it wasn't what we were looking for. Next time.
San José de Gracia Church
Los Trampas, New Mexico
I have visited this site several times and it is one of my favorite stops in Northern New Mexico. I read somewhere that this church is the best preserved example of Spanish architecture in New Mexico. I have never seen the inside but according to Marc Treibs', Sanctuaries of Spanish New Mexico, it is quite beautiful. The winter image I made on this trip is similar to last summers image. The difference being the snow (and mud).
San Lorenzo de Picurís
Picuris New Mexico
The Picuris Pueblo is the smallest of New Mexico's 19 Pueblo Tribes. Mission building at this site began around 1629 and the mission has been rebuilt several time due to the Pueblo Revolt and other Indian conflicts. I was excited to learn from Marc Treib that this was the home of Tupatu, who along with Po'pay, was one the leaders of the successful 1680 Pueblo Revolt. Also interesting is the ladder resting on the west wall, which is shown in a 1881 sketch by Lt. John Bourke.
San Francisco de Asís Mission Church
Ranchos De Taos New Mexico
This Church has been the subject of many artist ranging from Georgia O'Keffee to Ansel Adams and every time that I am in Taos, I make it a point to go by and shoot a few images. There appears to be confusion about when the church was built. I was able to find early 18th and early 19th century references. If you're in Taos it's a must see and there is a great place to eat just behind it, The Ranchos Plaza Grill. (The first image here is from a different trip. I didn't get a photograph of the Mission that I liked, just the blue shuttered window and the wagon wheel.)
On the drive home
Kagyu Mila Guru Stupa
Questa, New Mexico
I had visited this Tibetan stupa on one other occasion. The stupa is near Questa NM and if you look to the east you will see the spire sticking above the trees maybe a ½ mile off the hiway. On the drive back into Colorado the setting sun was reflecting on its golden crown and caught our attention. We were able to get back through the snow and mud just as the last light of the day was hitting it.