Drive this breathtaking New Mexico road trip.If your travels have ever taken you to the Southwest region of the nation, then you are likely familiar with the high deserts, mountains, forests and farmland that characterize the area’s geography. In my own experience, the High Road to Taos Scenic Byway is one of the best ways to explore and absorb the region’s entrancing desert scenery, eclectic villages and extensive history.

The High Road is a back-country, scenic route between Santa Fe and Taos leading visitors through an authentic journey of history and culture. The area’s history remains well-preserved and evident among the architecture, topography, and people along the route today.

Ancient Taos Pueblo with mountains on background, New Mexico

Taos Pueblo, at the north end of the High Road

Visitors to the region have the opportunity to explore towns featuring the work of traditional artisans inspired by the beauty of their surroundings. Tourists will also have the opportunity to purchase souvenirs and other gifts along the way. To begin this unforgettable journey along High Road to Taos Scenic Byway, take U.S.285/84 north from Santa Fe and turn east on N.M.503 to the Pueblo of Nambe.

Pueblo of Nambe

The Kiva at Nambe Pueblo NM.jpg

By John Phelan via Wikimedia Commons.

The Pueblo of Nambé, one the Tewa-speaking tribes in northern New Mexico, was settled in the earlier part of the 14th century and has been historically known for its strong agriculture, traditional textiles, and pottery production. Nestled in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, 20 miles north of Santa Fe, the Pueblo is almost completely surrounded by non-Indian towns and is home to approximately 1,100 members, according to the tribe’s website.

Sangre de Cristo Mountains

A road sign alerts motorists to a curving mountain road in northern New Mexico.

Sangre de Cristo Mountains

The Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Spanish for “Blood of Christ” stretch from southern Colorado to northern New Mexico at the southernmost subrange of the Rocky Mountains. Native Americans historically called the valleys home and the mountains their source of sustenance, but today’s residents have assimilated more fluidly into present-day American culture. Bring your camera! You won’t want to miss the chance to capture the picturesque views from the mountains’ peaks.

San José de Gracia de Las Trampas

San Jose de Gracia Church in Las Trampas, New Mexico

San Jose de Gracia Church in Las Trampas

Las Trampas is one of a string of villages located along High Drive between Santa Fe and Taos. First established by Spanish families in 1751, the village of Las Trampas was originally built to feature low buildings packed around a central plaza and surrounded by a defensive wall. The small villa’s layout helped protect its earliest inhabitants from Indian attacks. The tight-knit traditional community flourished for hundreds of years, developing and retaining a culture little influenced by the outside world. Within the village is the San José de Gracia Church, a historic and well-preserved example of Spanish Colonial architecture in New Mexico.

Have you explored High Road to Taos Scenic Byway? We would love to hear your stories! Please share your experiences with us in the comment section below.