Choosing the “road less traveled” often leads to beautiful, unexpected moments. As we headed north from Santa Fe to Taos, the slower 56-mile drive from Española through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains did not disappoint. We chose to take the winding “High Road to Taos” because we had read it was an interesting and scenic byway through tiny villages that cling to their Spanish colonial roots.. What we did not expect was how magical and spiritual the journey would be.
From Espanola our first stop was Chimayo and El Santuario de Chimayó. The Roman Catholic church is a shrine receiving as many as 300,000 visitors each year. The Santuario (sanctuary) is known for its tradition of healing the sick. The “dirt” found at the room known as the “pocito” or well is considered holy. Pilgrims have made the journey here since 1810 searching for spiritual, emotional and physical healing.
It was a powerful feeling inside the Shrines and sanctuaries. At times I felt overwhelmed and tears welled up seeing hundreds of photos of loved ones pinned to the walls. It is clear that the faith of the people who travel to this small village church is immense.
Feeling a profound sense of well-being, we continued our trek through Cordova and Truchas. We enjoyed a peaceful drive sharing the road and incredible views with turkeys. As we took a moment to step out and soak in the view we had an immense feeling of peace and awe as this red-tailed hawk soared above our heads.
Our next stop was Las Trampas and The San Jose de Gracia Church. This historic church was built between 1760 and 1776 and the signs indicated it is one of the least-altered examples of a Spanish Colonial Pueblo mission church. The parishioners periodically re-mud the adobe walls, which are as much as six feet thick.
Ranchos de Taos, a traditional agricultural community, is home to the San Francisco de Asis Church. You might recognize this one as it has been depicted in paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe and photographed by Ansel Adams.
The feeling of healing and spirituality continued as we arrived at our Airbnb which happened to be named “El Santuario”. It really was a beautiful sanctuary in the countryside. We were greeted by our host Vivien with such warmth and kindness you would have thought we were old friends. From the moment we settled in it felt like a true sanctuary.
Wandering the gardens that evening was magical as an occasional gust of wind would blow through like a welcome to this beautiful sanctuary. And the glow of the mountains at sunset was breathtaking.
We followed the beautifully lit path to finish the evening with a heavenly soak in the hot tub beneath the moon and stars.
We woke to the sound of birds and rose to walk the short path to the outdoor patio for morning yoga, meditation and coffee. Every morning should begin breathing in nature. It really is good for the soul!
We spent the day exploring some of the shops in Taos plaza before heading up the mountainside to get a glimpse of the snow. Bill had a great time skiing – even without skis. And all was well until we began sliding down the mountain on the way back down ?. It was scary, even though we were going really slow. Some wonderful people got us pulled out of the snowbank and helped us get back to dry land.
I was still a little shook up, but of course a little ice cream always makes everything feel better. And so fun to read the sign – even if it was in the bathroom. The best ice creams in the USA included Moomers in Michigan and Ted Drewes in Missouri – Go team!
Our last stop of the day was the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge where we also got a chance to see some Mountain Goats.
It was an amazing two days that touched us in a very special way. We didn’t really know what to expect and were pleasantly surprised around every turn on our magical trip to Taos. We’re going to miss New Mexico – this beautiful Land of Enchantment!