The Road to Taos | New Mexico


There are two main routes connecting Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico: The Low Road and the High Road, each named for its respective elevation. The Low Road follows the Rio Grande, while the High Road weaves through the mountains. If you’re making a round trip between the two cities, almost everyone recommended driving the Low Road northbound and the High Road southbound, so that’s what we did.

The first and last segments closest to Santa Fe or Taos are the same before the route splits into Low Road / High Road. Here we are leaving Santa Fe.

The Low Road

We took the Low Road from Santa Fe to Taos. It follows the Rio Grande and is the faster route, lying to the north of the High Road. With no stops, it would be about an hour and a half (70 miles) from end to end. There are just a couple noteworthy stops along the way. Everyone seemed to consider the High Road to be the more scenic one, but I found the Low Road to be beautiful as well! 

We passed by the Classical Gas Museum, a free roadside attraction of neon signs and vintage gas station paraphernalia, but it was closed, so we continued on to Vivác Winery in Dixon. Mostly we just found it very novel to think of wines growing in New Mexico, but then, I’ve come to realize wines can be grown almost anywhere. It doesn’t necessarily make the wine itself very good, but it was still a nice stop to break up the drive.

Vines, mountains, snow! Who knew. We had also passed up Black Mesa Winery and Cidery, but I figured one winery was good enough for this road trip.

Continuing on, there are a few viewpoints that are really beautiful, with those desert colors and the Rio Grande flowing through the mountains. This one was called “Sleeping Beauty” on google maps.

The photo doesn’t really do this one justice, but swinging around the bend, you see the very flat earth suddenly fall away into this giant chasm, with the river coursing through it. Like a mini Grand Canyon, just before getting closer to Taos. Truly a wonder to behold! Everything is so flat until it’s not! We later drove back out for a closer view of the Rio Grande, but this first ‘reveal’ was still a standout moment.

Our next stop was the Taos Drum Company, a huge warehouse filled with drums of all sizes as well as many other Native American crafts and all sorts of other items.

Little drums, big drums!

My wedding clients this year just might find a corn candle in their holiday gifts this winter, hahaha.

And one final attraction on the Low Road, just before the split with the High Road, is the San Francisco de Asís Catholic Mission Church in Rancho de Taos. This little church is still in use today but has become known for Ansel Adams and Georgia O’Keefe both featuring it in their artwork. 

Just a few minutes later we reached the town of Taos! Next, let’s skip ahead to the return trip from Taos to Santa Fe.

The High Road

The High Road courses through the mountains between Taos and Santa Fe, providing sweeping vistas along the way. It takes just slightly longer to drive this route than the Low Road, about an hour and 45 minutes (77 miles) with no stops.

Other than scenic viewpoints, our first stop was at Sugar Nymphs Bistro, which conveniently also had a charger in front for our electric vehicle. We had a nice, hearty lunch there in what felt like a nice homey dining room, attached to an old theater.

Further down the road, a nice stop at the Truchas Overlook.

Next was the town of Chimayo, where we visited Ortega’s Weaving Shop.

And then the main attraction of Chimayo, the Sanctuario de Chimayo, a tiny little chapel where the dirt on the ground is said to have healing powers.

Pilgrims visit from near and far in hopes of healing themselves or their loved ones.

Whether via Low Road or High Road, the route between Santa Fe and Taos is extremely beautiful, and I’m so glad we got to travel it!

Next up, Taos!

Anna Wu is a wedding and portrait photographer based in San Francisco. She compulsively documents and blogs all of her daily adventures. Follow her on instagram and view more of her professional work at