Northern New Mexico is renown for its rugged beauty. Northern New Mexico is where the Rocky Mountains end, and the land is indeed spectacular. There are many scenic roads to drive but, my favorite is to drive to Taos from Santa Fe and take the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway Loop from Taos. This scenic byway road is an 83 mile loop around Mt. Wheeler, (the tallest mountain in New Mexico at 13,161 feet.). For me, this is the ultimate New Mexico drive. This loop drive circles through the mountains and showcases outstanding scenery the whole way. After driving this route, you will have had an excellent sample of the beauty of the valleys, national forests, mesas and mountains of Northern New Mexico.
The first part of this day trip is to drive to Taos from Santa Fe. This road is already a must drive for any visitor as it is a dramatic route that may make you feel like you’re in an old western movie. You will see the famous Rio Grande river as you approach Taos from Santa Fe. Once you are in Taos, the Enchanted Circle drive can be driven clockwise or counterclockwise. I prefer the views when driving clockwise and this is what I recommend although either way is gorgeous. From Taos you will head north on 522 to the town of Questa.
At Questa you will take 38 to the Red River ski area and drive up into the rugged mountains.
You will pass through Red River, a wooded ski resort. Following 38 past Red River will lead you to Bobcat Pass at 9820 feet on your way to Eagles Nest.
At Eagles Nest take 64 to Angel Fire and then continue back to Taos.
Finally, once you return to Taos, I suggest you stop at 5 Star Burgers for the best burger you’ll ever have. Yes, they are so good, it may be the highlight of your day even after a lovely drive through the mountains. A meal at 5 Star is the perfect end to a perfect day trip and you will be pleasantly full for the return drive back to Santa Fe.
5 Star burgers are something special but, the seasoned fries are great too and they give you multiple dipping sauces such as green chile mayo, red chile ranch, ketchup and maple cream. Nom Nom!
A drive to Taos and then taking the circle drive through the mountains on the Enchanted Circle scenic byway with a stop at 5 Star Burger in Taos is my favorite day trip from Santa Fe. Try it, and it may become yours too.