The High Road to Taos

Happy almost-Friday, friends! I hope you’ve had a great week so far and are excited about the weekend to come! Today I’m sharing more about our trip to enchanting New Mexico, with one of North America’s most scenic byways, the High Road to Taos. We absolutely loved our time in Taos (see that here), but as it turns out, the journey there was just as stunning as the destination.

The main route to Taos (NM 68, the so-called ‘Low Road’) is a dramatic drive if you’ve got limited time, but the most spectacular way is via what’s known as the ‘High Road’. The journey from Santa Fe to Taos is only about 100 miles, but the drive takes you through a range of terrain from badlands of stark, weathered rock (where numerous Westerns have been filmed), to rolling foothills, lush canyons, and finally into pine forests. Traditional Spanish pueblos and villages, each steeped with culture and history, are dotted along the way and worth a stop, as well.

After a leisurely morning in Santa Fe, we headed north along the High Road to Taos. Many of the stops are on sacred tribal land or historic chapels, so we respected them with photos of only the outside, but you can still see the beauty.

one // Pueblo of Nambe

About 15 miles north of Santa Fe is an ancient Tewa Pueblo, a registered National Historic Landmark that dates back to around 1300. There’s also a short trail to the Nambe Falls Recreation Area, home to one of the most magnificent waterfalls in New Mexico, but it was closed for the season already.

The weather fluctuated with the terrain, so we were grateful we’d packed our Backcountry favorites. I was warm and cozy in my Patagonia pullover (how fun is this new color, now on sale!?),  and added the vest for an extra layer. (Code SUGARPLUM15 saves you 15% off your first Backcountry order!)

I chose the Beyond Yoga leggings for their thicker material and stellar reviews. They are incredibly comfortable with a high-waist and soft, brushed fabric that feels a little like flannel. They were honestly really warm, even more so than jeans I wore on another day, and a great option for outdoor!

Fit Tip: I size up in pullovers and jackets, and am wearing a small in both. Leggings are true to size, I’m wearing ‘darkest night’ color in XS.

Fleece Pullover (on sale!) | Puffer Vest | Leggings | Beanie | Sunglasses

Hooded Shirt | Quilted Vest | Trail Shoes | Sunglasses

Mr. SP lives in his Patagonia vest this time of year, and layered over the hooded performance shirt, he was warm and comfortable.

Hooded Shirt | Quilted Vest | Sunglasses

two // El Santuario de Chimayo

Chimayo is one of the most popular stops on the Santa Fe-to-Taos trek, made famous by El Santuario de Chimayo, a tiny church that some believe is filled with healing earth. Crosses, photos, and even crutches line the walls, left by people who claim to have been healed.

Fleece Pullover | Puffer Vest | Leggings | Beanie | Trail Shoes | Sunglasses

Fleece Pullover | Leggings | Beanie

Fleece Pullover | LeggingsSunglasses

three // Truchas

At the top of a relatively remote mesa, is the small town of Truchas. The view of New Mexico’s second-tallest mountain is reason enough to stop here, but don’t miss the historical Nuestra Senora del Rosario church, with 19th-century santero art.

Fleece Pullover | Puffer Vest | Leggings | Beanie | Trail Shoes | Sunglasses

Adidas Terrex are my favorite hiking shoes… they’re not too heavy or clunky, and have incredible traction on so many surfaces. Plus, they can handle the mud and snow and easily wash off. I’ve worn them on every National Park and active trip we’ve taken!

Fit Tip: I size down half 

Trail Shoes | High Top Option

four // Carson National Forest

In the span of a few short miles, you go from desert mesas to lush pine forests in Carson National Forest. I’m sure there are formal stops, but with spotty cell service throughout much of the drive, we just pulled over and explored near the road.

Packable JacketFleece Pullover | Puffer Vest | Leggings | Beanie | Trail Shoes | Sunglasses

It was significantly colder in the snowy forest, so I added my quilted puffer coat as an extra layer. This coat is shockingly warm considering the size, and is perfect for travel since it packs into a compact ball. And it’s on sale, too!

Fit Tip: I size up, I’m wearing a small.

Packable Jacket (on sale!) | Fleece Pullover | Puffer Vest | Leggings | Beanie | Sunglasses

His Trail Shoes | Her Trail Shoes

Hooded Shirt | Quilted Vest | Trail Shoes | Sunglasses | Cap


five // Talpa

The highlight of the small, ancient village of Talpa is a tiny church with a big name, Nuestra Señora de San Juan de los Lagos del Rio Chiquito, built in 1828. You can’t attend service in this church, but you can enjoy the beautiful and historical exterior.

Fleece Pullover | Puffer Vest | Leggings | Beanie | Sunglasses | Trail Shoes

Hooded Shirt | Quilted Vest | Trail Shoes | Sunglasses | Cap

From there, we drove through Ranchos de Taos and finally Taos Village, before stopping for the night at Cielo Taos Bed & Breakfast. You can see why they call New Mexico enchanting!

Hooded Shirt | Quilted VestSunglasses | Cap | Packable Jacket | Fleece Pullover | Puffer Vest | Beanie

These are by no means the only memorable sights encountered along the High Road, but the highlights of our drive. We had the best day just exploring and wandering the peaceful roads and villages, and it felt as if we had the world to ourselves! We drove the ‘Low Road’ back to Santa Fe a few days later, and it was gorgeous, too.

Have you driven the High Road to Taos? What are some of your favorite scenic drives in the United States or beyond? We’re always looking to add to our list!

Don’t forget, save 15% off your first Backcountry order with code SUGARPLUM15 (some exclusions apply)! Both of our kids have Patagonia pullovers on their Christmas Wish Lists, so we’ll be shopping for several gifts at Backcountry! You can find their early Black Friday deals here, with amazing finds like this Patagonia jacket!


[More of our New Mexico Trip]
Snapshots from Santa Fe
Great Stays | Cielo Taos B&B


*All photos taken with our iPhone and edited with ColorStory app. This post is created in collaboration with Backcountry and ShopStyle, but all product selections, styling, and snow-frolicking are my own. Thank you for supporting Hi Sugarplum sponsors!*

Leave a Comment


  1. Sandy wrote:

    Amazing photos! So special when you have these places to yourselves.
    There is roped off sacred tribal land on the Taos ski resort as well.
    I live in those Addias hiking shoes, and am on pair #3! Price is right too.
    Perfect place. Perfect post. Thanks, SPs!

    Posted 11.21.19 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      Yes, it really felt like we were the only people on the planet! I don’t know what I’d do without my hiking shoes, they have been so great for our trips! xo, Cassie

      Posted 11.21.19 Reply
  2. Tanya wrote:

    Thank you so much for your Santa Fe posts. We are headed there as a family for Thanksgiving, and I’ve gotten some great ideas.

    Posted 11.21.19 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      Hi Tanya! So glad my posts have been helpful for you! Santa Fe will be amazing at Thanksgiving! xo, Cassie

      Posted 11.21.19 Reply
  3. Jenni S wrote:

    Next time you’re in Montana you MUST drive Beartooth Pass from Red Lodge to Cook City! It’s incredible!!

    Posted 11.21.19 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      Adding to my ever growing travel list!!! xo, Cassie

      Posted 11.21.19 Reply
  4. Renee wrote:

    So happy to see you enjoyed your time here in New Mexico! So much fun seeing all the photos from your exploring. I’m from Ranchos de Taos, so it is definitely such a special place.

    Posted 11.26.19 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      We love New Mexico! And what an amazing place to be from! xo, Cassie

      Posted 11.26.19 Reply