Wind Down with the Rio Grande
Orchards • Whitewater Rafting • Fruit Stands
This is the direct road to Taos. The route, also known as 'The Low Road,' parallels the spectacular Rio Grande for many miles before reaching Taos.
1. SAN JUAN PUEBLO is immediately north of Española on SR 68. The headquarters of the Eight Northern Pueblos Council is located here, and this is the site of the first capital of New Mexico, in 1598. Traditional pottery is reddish brown with carved symbols. San Juan Feast Day is June 24. For pueblo information, call (505) 852-4400.
2. ALCALDE, on your left as you travel north, was originally called El Puesta de Rio Arriba. The settlement was established by Don Diego de Vargas in 1692. Every December 26 & 27, the Matachines perform an ancient dance of Moorish origins at Alcalde. As you leave Alcalde look for the large pink building on your right.
3. OÑATE MONUMENT & VISITORS CENTER explores Hispanic and Pueblo farming traditions of the northern Rio Grande Valley between Española and Rinconada. Art and Culture exhibits, local art, music, dance and theater events. The Gift shop carries the work of local artists and artisans. Open M-F. Call (505) 852-4639.
4. VELARDE is a picturesque old Hispanic town on the Rio Grande. It is an apple-growing center; note the many orchards and the complex system of irrigation ditches (acequias) off to your left. As you pass through town, you'll want to visit one of the many fruit stands. Colorful chile ristras and wreaths are another area specialty.
5. EMBUDO AND DIXON are adjoining villages where the Rio Grande meets the Embudo Creek---a great place to cast your fishing rod. The Dixon Studio Tour is held the first weekend in November and is sponsored by the Dixon Arts Association. Call (505) 852-2273 for information. There are also two wineries in Chiripada and Black Mesa. Nearby Pilar is the starting point for white-water rafting trips.
6. TAOS AND VICINITY. Kit Carson Memorial State Park is the site of the graves of the famed frontiersman and his family. On display at the Kit Carson House and Museum are items of historical interest. Taos Pueblo, continuously inhabited by the Taos Indians for centuries is the largest multi-storied pueblo in the nation. San Geronimo Feast Day is September 30. For more information call (505) 758-1028. The Taos Ski Valley offers some of the Southwest's best runs. The season runs from Thanksgiving through early April. Points of interest: The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, 650 feet above the river, is one of the nation's highest suspension bridges. (SR 68 north, then west on US 64.) Nearby Rio Grande Gorge State Park, open all year, offers spectacular vistas and some of the best public fishing in the state. There are four major camping areas.