Motorcycling on the High Road to Taos Scenic Byway gives the impression of Old Spain, with its architecture, topography and history.
The first stop is El Santuario de Chimayó - a Roman Catholic church in Chimayó - known for its “Holy Dirt”. During Holy Week over 300,000 people make pilgrimages to it seeking blessings and healing. Walking is traditional - some pilgrims walking from as far away as Albuquerque – that’s 90 miles! (I’m glad I road my bike).
There’s an alcove inside the church with a hole in the floor that contains the “holy dirt” - eat it, rub it on yourself or just take some. The church goes through 25-30 tons of dirt a year, refilling from the nearby hillside. We sprinkled liberally over the bikes.
Upon arriving at the church we were so impressed - they had 1 spot with a “designated to motorcycles” sign. Zipped right into it and just light that – we were stuck. The spot is slanted downward – not the most ideal position to be in with a trailer loaded for bear. Yup, we’re pushing to get out.
Continuing on down the road – where Chimayó is known for its dirt, the next town, Cordova, is known for its hand-crafted wood carvings from aspen and cedar. Unfortunately, due to “The Mess”, Cordova and all its wonderful wood working shops were closed.
After climbing more than 7 miles, the route cuts through Truchas, which was once a Spanish outpost, now known as the site for Robert Redford’s film The Milagro Beanfield War.
After leaving Truchas, you enter Carson National Forest, winding up and down forests and several very tiny towns. Once more we scored a killer lunch site on a forest road.
After lunch we made a pit stop at San José de Gracia Church in Las Trampas, NM – settled in 1751 by 12 families. No running water, hot, arid climate, basically cut off for hundreds of years from the outside world, and prone to Indian attacks – Comanche, Ute and Apache - oh, and did I mention this was in a largely uncharted and unoccupied by settlers area? (sheesh! - makes me appreciate all that I have!). The church was built around 1760 and is a National Historic Landmark.
While there a woman stopped for a photo shoot only to complain the power lines were messing with her picture. I’m wondering what the original founders would have thought about those power lines?
The High Road to Taos ends at the Rancho de Taos Plaza – home to the San Francisco de Asis Church, built in the mid 1700’s and an inspiration to many artists, including Georgia O’Keeffe.
A 54-mile road trip – but one packed with history, culture and architecture!
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I really enjoy y’all’s adventures! It’s inspired me to get out more! Keep it going y’all! Hope y’all can come to Alaska soon!