Driving The Enchanted Circle of Northern New Mexico

Looking for a spectacular drive to truly explore the wonders of Northern New Mexico’s Mountains? Then the Enchanted Circle Drive around Wheeler Peak (the tallest mountain in New Mexico) is the tour for you. https://taos.org/plan-your-trip/maps-resources/driving-maps/enchanted-circle-driving-tour/

Driving the 89 miles of the Enchanted Circle Route provides numerous locations to take amazing pictures of the landscape of New Mexico, in addition to numerous interesting stops in the quaint small towns along the route, including the Alpine village of Red River, as well as Eagle’s Nest, and the Ski town of Angel Fire.

Main Attractions on the Enchanted Circle

1. Red River: This small Alpine village, located 8,571 feet above sea level is a great location to stop on your drive in order to wander around the quirky small shops in this ski town. Established as a mining town in the late 1800s, the town has an abundance of beauty and history for you to explore. Nestled between the towering mountains that surround the town, this town provides many opportunities to get out into nature. Not only does the town have the Red River Ski Area for winter activities, at other times of year you can find challenging hikes, or rent an All-Terrain Vehicles, or take a horseback ride amongst the mountains and forest, or along the Red River itself.

After exploring the town, consider stopping in the Red River Brewery for lunch or a drink. In 2019, it was named the best brewery in New Mexico by the NM Restaurant Association. https://redriverbrewing.com/index.htm

2. Eagle Nest: Another small village along the route, this is the home of Eagle Nest State Park, which includes Eagle Nest Lake. There are numerous activities you can participate in at the state park, including fishing, kayaking, hiking or birding. http://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/SPD/eaglenestlakestatepark.html

3. Vietnam Veterans Memorial: A must-see on the drive, located near Angel Fire, this is an impressive memorial and museum built originally by the father of a soldier killed in Vietnam, David Westphall. In addition to the modern Chapel, the museum provides a thoughtful and moving experience to those who take the time to stop in to look through the exhibits and videos. https://www.vietnamveteransmemorial.org/

4. Angel Fire: Another small town located along the Enchanted Circle, it is known for its ski area, as well as the lakes in the area, as well as the forest land. This is another spot to stop if you are looking for some small shops located near the ski slopes. They also allow mountain biking on the slopes during the warmer seasons. https://www.newmexico.org/nmmagazine/articles/post/destinations-98328/

5. Kit Carson National Forest: At 1.5 Million Acres, the Carson National Forest is a main feature of the Enchanted Circle Drive. As you leave Angel Fire and head back towards Taos and your room at the Dreamcatcher, you will drive through a beautiful section of the forest, which lines the valley running from Angel Fire to Taos. In addition to the beautiful scenery, the Forest provides opportunities to hike the Continental Divide Trail, mountain bike, or just relax and enjoy the flora and fauna of Northern New Mexico. https://www.fs.usda.gov/carson/

6. Taos: As you return to Taos, make sure you take the time to stop in any of the museums, galleries and shops in town. While Taos remains a small quaint town, the opportunities to explore are unlimited. Visit any of the 10 museums to learn about the history and art of the area. Known as one of the best art towns in the United States, you will find over 100 art galleries to wander should you decide to take home a bit of the southwest with you. Also, a visit to the Taos Pueblo, the longest continuously inhabited settlement in the United States, is a must. Feel free to take the opportunities to hike, golf, ski, bike, whitewater raft in the Rio Grande River, or simply enjoy the spectacular vistas here in the high desert of New Mexico. https://taos.org/

After your adventures, come back to your beautiful and comfortable room at the Dreamcatcher Bed and Breakfast, located within walking distance to the Historic Taos Plaza. Let us know if you would like any additional information on the many attractions and experiences you can have here in Taos, New Mexico.

How Long Does It Take to Drive the Enchanted Circle?

Obviously, this depends on how many stops you make on your drive around the circle, but based upon prior guests’ experiences, the average for the drive is about 2.5 hours with brief stops to explore and for pictures. However, given the choices of hikes, attractions, quaint stores, beautiful views for pictures, and stopping for lunch on the way, you can also spend the better part of the day exploring the mountains of Northern New Mexico.