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Road conditions in late Fall; lonely roads?

Florida
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Road conditions in late Fall; lonely roads?

Hello all,

I post reviews but have never asked a question all these years. I'm planning a potential first-time trip to Santa Fe in late Fall for a long weekend; I've read through many posts on this forum to get a good idea of what to expect but have one or two lingering questions:

1. While I'm a somewhat adventurous traveller, I don't like driving lonely roads and highways as much as I used to. I was looking at a potential day trip to Taos, but I can't get a good sense as to whether a day trip in the Fall is a good bet. I would only take the Low Road based on what I have read due to the topography of the High Road and also the longer distance would likely rule out the High Road to come and go in one day. Furthermore, I prefer not to be out in remote highways in mountainous terrain in the evenings. Primarily I would be going to see the Taos Pueblo and nothing else. I wouldn't be stopping at towns along the way. In short, is the Taos Pueblo "worth" the drive in the Fall from Santa Fe in one day?

2. As only one day would lend itself to a day trip, should I skip Taos altogether in favor of Bandolier (which I read in yesterday's Travel section has largely reopened)? I have read many conflicting accounts and opinions regarding the Taos Pueblo and can't make up my mind. On that note, the roads to Bandolier look rural as well, but it is closer and could easily go for a few hours and be back in Santa Fe by dusk from what I can tell. Can anyone let me know how the drive and roads are to Bandolier from Santa Fe?

Gracias.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
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for Santa Fe, Mesa Verde National Park, Boulder, New Mexico
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1. Re: Road conditions in late Fall; lonely roads?

New Mexico = rural and lonely roads. We are the 5th largest state and have less than 2 million people in the entire state! I drive 1/2 hour from home to work and each day see coyotes!!!

From Santa Fe to Bandelier you easily can get there and back in a 1/2 day or so. Busy road to Los Alamos, even a rush hour (or our version of it) weekdays!

Taos Pueblo is worth it, but could be a longer, more rural drive than you would want to do. Plus with only a weekend or so, there is plenty to see and do right here in Santa Fe.

Florida
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2. Re: Road conditions in late Fall; lonely roads?

Dear Casa Azul,

Many thanks for your quick and informative post. As a more independent-minded traveler, I usually eschew guided tours in favor of independent travel but on the flip side road trips in unfamiliar terrain during the shorter days of Fall deter me a bit. I see there is a Taos Express but it seems limited with only 3-4 hours total to spend in the town - and on weekends only. Perhaps I will look more into Bandolier, especially now that it has largely reopened.

I have never been to New Mexico and am excited at the prospect. I speak Spanish, love Spanish culture so the fusion of Spanish and Native American influences are very appealing. I'm not sure why I've never gotten to New Mexico all these years but have heard wonderful things about it and finally I should be able to get there.

Thanks again.

Albuquerque, New...
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3. Re: Road conditions in late Fall; lonely roads?

If you love historical places, then Taos Pueblo is a must see in Northern New Mexico. The remaining five, and four story "houses" beside their crystalline stream, remain much the same in appearance as they did when Coronado's men first visited in 1541.

The village of Taos, three miles to the south, had its origins as a small, Spanish settlement, and mission in 1617. A highlight of its Hispanic origins is the Martinez Hacienda, nearby in Ranchos de Taos...as well as the Saint Francis of Assisi church, on the south side as you enter Ranchos de Taos on the highway from Espanola (the Low Road).

The Low Road would probably be best for you according to your stated criteria...a good highway, partially adjoining the Rio Grande River. It is not as scenic as the High Road, but certainly not boring in any way.

Bandelier requires much hiking to see properly, while Taos;/Taos Pueblo just require "strolling." That choice is up to you. Both are certainly memorable. Taos is only a 1 1/2 hour drive from Santa Fe via the Low Road. Have a safe trip.

Florida
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4. Re: Road conditions in late Fall; lonely roads?

Thanks for your response. I would probably stroll through the town as well, I just didn't know if it was "too much" to go to Taos in the morning and be back in Santa Fe around sundown. I'm not a skittish driver, just driving the Pacific Coast Highway was a bit of a white-knuckle drive (albeit beautifiul) so for short weekend trip I'm not overly looking for the "stress" of a lightning trip through mountain roads, especially in the shorter days of autumn. I am looking forward to Santa Fe though and as "Casa Azul" says, there is more than enough to do there in a weekend so more than likely I'll play it by ear and perhaps save the day tripping for another time when I can spend more days in Santa Fe and its environs at a more leisurely pace.

Thanks again for your insight!

Seattle, Washington
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5. Re: Road conditions in late Fall; lonely roads?

I've visited this part of New Mexico on several occasions. There is a lot to see and do in Santa Fe, so my personal preference for such a trip would be to stay there. However, as the previous post notes, it is only an hour and a half each way to Taos; the Low Road is not a difficult drive. I don't agree with the negative comments posted on TA about Taos Pueblo. Late fall is actually a good time to go there. My wife and I did this once a few years ago and it was very very nice. A light snow had dusted the surrounding peaks and the place was very calm--- because of the virtual absence of other tourists. Most of the places selling things, which some have found to be annoying, were closed. The pueblo residents we met were very relaxed, glad to see us, and more than willing to talk and be helpful. I think the Pueblo is worth visiting at any time, but it's especially nice when it isn't overrun with visitors. Bandelier is also well worth visiting in the late fall, but different kind of place. If you decide to venture out of Santa Fe, you have a difficult choice to make.

Taos, New Mexico
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6. Re: Road conditions in late Fall; lonely roads?

Generally, day-trippers to Taos are either completely underwhelmed and disappointed or leave wanting more (as in they "loved it" and want to come back to spend more time). Very little in between, so we rarely recommend such things. This town is much more about slowing down and making connections than about simply passing through. Almost all of the complaints we hear are from one-day or one-night pass-throughs who never got a chance to get the feel of Taos. We always wish for more time. . .

We always recommend the Low Road to Taos for the spectacular scenery coming up out of the Gorge just south of town. Do it early, visit the Pueblo in the morning and see some of Taos.

Take the High Road south to Santa Fe and see some of the spectacular north-facing slopes of the Truches Range that will probably hold some snow if the coming storm does anything for us.

The Low Road is never "lonely" except maybe at night. It's a well-used lifeline between Taos and Espanola/Santa Fe.

The High Road always has less traffic, but it's home to many thousands of New Mexicans in the towns along the way. The only "lonely" stretch that really sticks out is along NM 518 between Taos and the turn onto NM 75. It's all National Forest and the alpine. Beautiful.

Florida
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7. Re: Road conditions in late Fall; lonely roads?

Dear mountainstream25,

Thank you for your response, especially your take on the Taos Pueblo. The reviews on the Pueblo have been hard to gauge so I appreciate your viewpoint.

With so little time I'm not sure which day trip will be THE day trip, but the valuable feedback is helping to firm up my choice.

Thanks again!

Florida
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8. Re: Road conditions in late Fall; lonely roads?

Thanks TaosBandBlover,

I appreciate the time you took to respond and address my questions about the Low Road to Taos and also the information on the town. I realize the drive is a big part of the experience in visiting many places in general just I had some concerns about the time of year and the shorter days. I appreciate your honest feedback.

Have a good day. Gracias.

New York City, New...
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9. Re: Road conditions in late Fall; lonely roads?

TaosB&B: Interesting points. You speak as a resident and appeciator of Taos. I think the more negative comments on Taos are from "sightseeing" tourists. I would imagine Taos is a great place to live,and perhaps a respite for many New Mexicans. The disappointment is probably from tourists who are comparing it to their visit to Santa Fe. The Pueblo is magnificent, and a favorite of ours on Christmas Eve.

Kala: In my experience, these roads, while rural, are not really "lonely." There are always some cars on them; the roads are to main tourist sites, andthe one to Bandelier is for the most part the main road into Los Alamos, a somewhat busy community. During the day, you will see other cars. And although there is a strong Spanish presence, everyone speaks English.

Taos and Bandelier are different, since Taos is a town and Bandelier is a "park/national monument." (although Taos Pueblo, north of Taos, is more "open"). To confuse things more, I'd suggest day trips to Chimayo (closer to Santa Fe, less than an hour) and/or Abiquiu.

New York City, New...
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10. Re: Road conditions in late Fall; lonely roads?

BTW, I just checked some of the TA "reviews" on Taos Pueblo, and I was appalled.

Taos Pueblo is primary a living place for Native Americans NOT a "tourist attraction." It is true that they accept visitors, and charge a $10 fee (and $6 camera fee; some pueblos don't allow cameras at all.) but I was amazed that so many visitors gave low ratings, thinking the pueblo should be set up for their comfort and ease. They may not want to pay a fee, OK, their choice, but it seemed like they had no respect for the residents and misunderstood that a Pueblo is not a "living musem" for their entertainment.