This three-hour drive from Albuquerque to Taos via Santa Fe is known as the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway. Cruise down State Road 14, dotted with dusty pioneer trails and Western ghost towns like Los Cerrillos. From Santa Fe, the 56-mile road weaves through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains—a range of lush hillsides and orchards—and then passes through tiny towns like Chimayo and the summit village of Truchas. And remember, this area has some of the darkest skies in the country, so you can clamber out and stargaze if your drive edges into nighttime.
Where to stop: In winter, Taos is a ski mecca, with more than 100 pistes, but the Native American culture here makes it worth visiting year-round. Go to the Zuni Reservation, the largest of the state’s 19 pueblos where 80 percent of the workforce produce crafts and artwork for sale at the Craftsmen Co-op, and the Taos Pueblo, aNational Historic Landmark built in the 14th century.
Where to eat: Detour north of Santa Fe to Chimayo, a small town that’s home to the longstanding restaurant Rancho de Chimayo. It’s one of the best places to try New Mexican cuisine using ingredients like hatch green chiles, anise, and pine nuts, all of which grow plentifully here.
Where to stay: Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs is a lush resort centered on a dozen natural pools, fed by four different kinds of mineral-rich water en route from Santa Fe to Taos.
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