Welcome back. Somewhere between the sun and a man’s last breath lies a stretch of land in north central New Mexico that many think is enchanted and many others consider to be heaven on earth.
Traveling up into the Sangre de Christo Mountain range you first come to towns with names like Angel Fire, Taos and Red River. This area is called the “enchanted circle” where the mountains contain lush valleys filled with trees and green grass. As you pass over the mountains going west the landscape on the other side slowly changes to a desert terrain and big rocks replace the trees. These are huge rocks hundreds of feet tall, shaped by thousands of years of wind and rain and colored in shades of purple, pink and bronze. Santa Fee is 100 or so miles to the south of this area and Pagosa Springs, Colorado is 105 miles away on the north border.
In the past people came here to mine copper and silver but now the area depends on tourism. Instead of miners looking to strike it rich, locals depend on visitors looking to ski in the winter and hunt and fish in the spring and fall. Summer brings lots of hikers and campers to the mountains as well. At 8,750 feet, a person can enjoy the scenery at any time of the year and many people come just for the views. The 484 people who live in Red River full time know what pays their bills and friends when you visit their town it’s all about you. They offer skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling in the winter and hiking, fishing and horseback riding in the summer. Good food is plentiful of course and watching deer and elk walking right down the middle of Main Street is a favorite pastime and I’ve seen lots of them myself.
It’s well known that the Plains and Pueblo Indians were the first to cross this land looking for buffalo. Reading up on local history, I found that there were many Indian trails and passes through this part of the mountain range. According to local history, the old Kiowa and Taos trails were intended for horse and foot travel. Wagons, usually full of supplies, took the Cimarron Trail which ran along what is now US Route 68. I know it may be hard to comprehend reading all this but when you see the rough terrain people had to cross just to get here you know they had to be both tough and skilled at handling teams of horses.
You can’t go to Angel Fire and Red River without visiting the town where the cult film Easy Rider was shot so I’m hanging my hat in a town the natives call “the place of red willows” which nowadays is better known as Taos, New Mexico. Home of the famous Taos Pueblo which has been inhabited since somewhere between 1000 and 1450 AD, today it’s said there are around 150 people living in the Pueblo. The Pueblo is a very special place for sure but there are also three art museums and over 80 art galleries in Taos. The town also hosts community arts events, numerous musical performances and even shamanic rituals. Yes, Taos is an artistic town but there is more. The golf, fishing, rafting and hiking here is rated as some of the best in the country as well the top-notch skiing. If you go to Taos, Angel Fire, Red River or any of the small towns along the Enchanted Circle plan on a long stay because there is just so much to see here.
Till next time I’ll see ya down the road