on the road

the gadlfy in...

new mexico

gadfly homepage on the road home notes on places last contact: 8/2009 first contact: 8/2/2005

NM Trip Stats (6/10):


Counties visited: 14

Best county:  Taos Co.

Last visited: 8/2007

Town visited most: Taos

Places slept in: Carson NF (tent), Cibola NF (tent), Storrie Lk SP (tent), Las Vegas

Most impressive town: Chimayo

Least impressive town: Santa Rosa

Biggest town: Santa Fe

Most scenic area: High Road to Taos

Most scenic spot: Taos Pueblo

Highest Elevation:

Three words: colorful, sacred, Spanish

State Animal: road runner

Tourist Trap: Taos

Unique Food: Pueblo fry bread

Road Trips: Cowboy Trip (8/2005)


Neighboring States: TX, CO, AZ, OK, CHI, SON


Future Plans: I would like to see the space between Santa Fe and Juarez and the many natural curiosities of a landscape where deserts meet forests and mountains.


Monuments: In Taos Kit Carson is a notable figure with more than a couple monuments, but the pueblos and missions all along the Rio Grande are the heart and soul of the area. Many Catholic missions and old churches dot the landscape and safeguard 400 years of history. Because of that I am officially making the Catholic Church a hero of New Mexico. Santa Fe raises up its artists, most especially, the one and only painter of Southwestern landscapes, Georgie O'Keeffe.


First Contact: I first met New Mexico after racing down the San Luis Valley along NM-522 near Costilla. New Mexico would be the southernmost point of the most long-ranging road trip to that date from Chicago to the Black Hills and south along the front range of the Rockies. We immediately drove down to Taos and spent the night in the Sangre de Cristo mountain range in the Carson National Forest. The area was dry rangeland, nearing desert where I crossed the border and became more forested as I went east and up the ridges.

Taos Co. (8/2005)

Taos. A tourist town (mainly for well-to-do skiers in the winter.) The main drag can bring about pretty big traffic jams. The center plaza is filled with touristy shops. Almost all the buildings, even the Wendy's, is covered with adobe. The road leading into the woods that cover the Sangre de Cristos houses Kit Carson's former headquarters.  Taos Pueblo. An intact and ancient Native town is quite a site where history is absolutely alive. The backdrop of the Sangre de Cristos is incredible. It's tiny San Geronimo Church is a tribute to Native Catholicism. As long as a visitor respects it as a foreign nation and as someone else's home, they will not be disappointed.  Carson NF. Slept here in a skeezy little moutainside campsite along US-64. Heard coyotes in the night. Las Trampas. Home of a Spanish church dating back to the 18th century. Chimayo. Wanted to see the town of Fernando Ortega and the home of the Ortega weavers. (The Ortega family runs two stores in town.) It is no wonder that an inspired singer comes from such an inspiring and spiritual place. The holy sanctuary sout of town is the focus of pilgrims for the healing powers of the red dirt and mountain water. Along with the stations at St. Donatus, IA, a place where I felt the presence of God more strongly. Here's the Roadside America website about it. Costilla. Questa. San Cristobal. Arroyo Hondo. Penasco. Chamisal. Ojo Sarco. Truchas.

Santa Fe Co. (8/2005)

Nambe. The prairie dries to a more desert-like appearance near here. Santa Fe. An artist's town and the state capital. Visited the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum and was impressed, but the collection was not as interesting as the one I saw in Milwaukee. Several art museums and galleries fill the streets near the old Palace of the Governors. Several natives sat in a line in the shade of the Palace selling turquoise jewelry. The plaza affords great views of the city. The cathedral's Spanish influence and carved doors make it a can't miss. I love this city and it's worth many more visits and not just because cowboy hats are not such a curiosity as they are in the Midwest.

San Miguel Co. (8/2005)

Pecos. South of the town is the creepiest place I may have ever been. The ruins of an old Spanish mission and pueblo sit at the site of a formerly great trading point for natives.It is lonely. The wind whistles a little through the dried grass and the cacti. The ground cracks under each step. I entered a kiva here and felt too many ghosts as I descended to go all the way down. Villanueva. The desert is more classic in the hills south of here. Ribera. El Pueblo. Dogs running across the road and barking at the car. It looks more like Mexico here than the U.S.

Torrance Co. (8/2005)

Flying C Ranch. What a welcome site was this truck stop (not on the map) after driving through the desert hills along NM-3.

Guadalupe Co. (8/2005)

Santa Rosa. Truck stop town in the middle of dry prairie and flat range. Southern accents are heard here.

.Quay Co. (8/2005)

Drove through this rangeland on the way from Santa Fe to Amarillo. Tucumcari. No Clint Eastwood here.

Los Alamos Co. (8/2009)

Los Alamos. Coming Soon.

Sandoval Co. (8/2009)

Bandalier NM. Coming Soon.



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Taos Pueblo sits along a small brook that runs down the west slope of te Sangre de Cristo Range.  (2005)

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A cactus along the walls near the mission ruins at Pecos. (2005)

The tent is sitting lonesome on the hard ground near the shores of Storrie Lake near Las Vegas. (2007)

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Pilgrims from all over come to the holy ground of the Chimayo Sanctuary with the hope that their physical burdens can be left at the gates. (2005)


all photos (c) 2005-07 by J. Bezold