Updated: Dec 2, 2018
Hello Internet! Headed out of Albuquerque today and up to Northern California for my next assignment, my dad and I decided to make this our vacation this year, so he flew in yesterday to road trip with me up there and we took off this afternoon. Now technically it’s just a little over 1,000 miles and could be done in a straight shot of 16.5 hours, however all my twists, turns, and stops have added on an extra 1,000 miles and has estimated us 40 hours to get there!!!! :0) I can’t help it, I’m the type who figures may as well make the most of it and veer off the path a bit to see something interesting if I’m already driving all the way up there. Plus I’ve always wanted to road trip across the USA so travel nursing allows the perfect opportunity for that, when heading in-between assignments. PLUS we have almost 2 whole weeks to get up there, so why not?!
If anyone is planning a road trip and hasn’t used it yet, Roadtrippers is a GREAT resource! Love the heck out of that site. You can put in your start/end destinations and it’ll provide a route, then you select your mileage radius, say 30 miles, and it’ll show you things to do, photo ops, weird roadside attractions, the nearest 'world's largest', entertainment, where to eat etc, all within 30 miles of your route. It comes complete with reviews and visiting info with pricing, opening hours, photos, if it’s pet friendly or not - which is super important for me since my sidekick Keanu is always with me! It even lets you enter your car info and it’ll estimate gas prices for your trip! There’s an app for your phone that works great too. You can just have it find your location and show you what’s around nearby to do…I love it! I’ve used it for my last few road trips and can’t get enough.
Day 1 took us from Albuquerque to Taos, New Mexico. It’s an easy drive up Route 25, and you can stop in Santa Fe on the way. Santa Fe is an absolutely adorable town! It’s famous for its plaza which you can stop in and shop, eat, browse the museums, visit the church etc. Seeing as I’d been there before we bypassed it this time but if you’re heading through for the first time it’s definitely worth a stop. After multiple recommendations we decided to detour off Route 25 and take the “High Road” from Santa Fe to Taos. It’s known as the ‘scenic’ route and passes through all these old towns that were established way back in the 1800s and 1700s and are a huge part of New Mexico history.
We first stopped at Santuario de Chimayó, an old church in the town of Chimayó known for its 'healing dirt'. The grounds are beautiful! I don’t think you need more than 30 minutes there and it’s right off the route. No photos allowed inside the church though! Also has a museum and gift shop which are indeed open despite the look of them.
Second stop/church, San Jose de Gracia de las Trampas, an 18th-century mission church, which apparently is Spanish Colonial architecture. I also read that it's over 225 years old and still in use! Doors were padlocked though so didn’t get to go inside. :0/
Third stop....another church! It's a good thing I really like churches... San Francisco de Asis Mission Church (aka Saint Francis of Assisi) is a National Historic Landmark built in the 1700s. Allegedly it is one of the most painted and photographed churches in the world - according to the internet. And if you read it on the internet it must be true right?! It was late by the time we got there so again could not go inside. It’s literally up the street from our hotel though so may attempt to go tomorrow during the day time.
Stayed at the Sagebrush Inn & Suites, which is super charming and full of New Mexico decor. Pet friendly with a quaint bar/cantina area with a fireplace in addition to a restaurant with outdoor seating area, it again is right off the main road and easy to get to. The area came up out of nowhere as we were up in the mountains for quite sometime and even at 5 minutes away from our hotel there were no signs of civilization! But once you get there you’re just fine and everything you need is nearby. It’s like…a 1 minute drive from the Taos Visitor Center and less than 10 minutes from Taos’ famous plaza. Would definitely stay here again.
As for the high road route, it is quite pretty I’ll give it that. Honestly though unless we were just driving through on a slow day or too late in the day where everything was closed, we didn’t seem to find much to stop and do outside of the churches - which I will say were worth it on their own. I had read that there are supposed to be galleries that sell pottery, local arts and crafts etc, but I didn’t see them. So perhaps they’re off the beaten path a little?? There are definitely tours of this route as a couple of tour buses joined us at Santuario de Chimayó so it might behoove someone to look into those and see what their itineraries are like if headed through in order to get some more ideas of where to stop. If driving the high road yourself, beware of the weather and do it during the day. It gets windy and steep and dark and cold up in the mountains, and snow is common depending on the season you visit. Also super poor cell phone reception for quite a bit of it, so another thing to keep in mind and a good reason to drive it during the day. Again though, more scenic than the straight shot up to Taos, totally worth the drive for the glimpse into old New Mexico.
***Update to the Sagebrush Inn: the wifi is terrible, which may not be a big deal for some but if you absolutely needed it for whatever reason, just be aware. On a plus side, the breakfast is amazing! If you book it with your stay it’s a sit down breakfast, just a limited menu of course but 5 or 6 full breakfast options ranging from French toast to huevos rancheros, plus an oatmeal/yogurt/granola/fruit bar! Score!