New Mexico road trip: Haute route

Discover art along this high-desert corridor

El Santuario de Chimayó
Photo: Julien McRoberts

THE ROUTE: Santa Fe > Chimayó > Taos > Ojo Caliente > Abiquiu > Monastery of Christ in the Desert (190 miles).

WHY GO: Art and life merge along this high-desert corridor, where Native Americans have handcrafted clay pottery for hundreds of years, and where Georgia O’Keeffe drew inspiration from the red rocks and landscape surrounding Abiquiu.

WHO IT'S FOR: Lovers of high art who also want to explore the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the wide-open spaces of northern New Mexico.

WHERE TO STAY: Ojo Caliente, one of the oldest spas in the States at 145, is famous for its healing lithium, iron, soda, and arsenic baths. Book a beautiful Cliffside Suite, with a kiva fireplace, private tub, and access to the Kiva Pool. From $139, Cliffside Suites from $299; ojospa.com

TOP STOPS:

Santa Fe Botanical Garden at Museum Hill. Sure to be a welcome oasis, the 13-acre garden is set on Museum Hill, which is also home to the Museum of International Folk Art and Museum of Indian Arts & Culture. $5; santafebotanicalgarden.org

El Santuario de Chimayó. One of the most important Catholic pilgrimage sites in the country, the picturesque adobe church draws 300,000 visitors a year. The exterior is captivating, but make sure to see the retablos, or devotional paintings, inside. holychimayo.us

Millicent Rogers Museum. In Taos, admire the impeccable taste the urbane Rogers had for Southwest jewelry and Native American art. $10; millicentrogers.org

The Love Apple. Reserve a table at least three days ahead for this romantic organic restaurant in Taos, beloved by locals for dishes like grilled trout wrapped in cornhusks, topped with chipotle crème, and served with quinoa piñon fritters. $$; theloveapple.net

Georgia O’Keeffe Home and Studio Behind-the-Scenes Tour. For the first time, guests who visit the artist’s home in rural Abiquiu are allowed to go behind the “black door,” the famous portal depicted in many of O’Keeffe’s paintings. In real life, the door leads to her canvas preparation room. $60; tours Wed only; okeeffemuseum.org

Monastery of Christ in the Desert Taproom. A classic Belgian-style ale is well worth the 13-mile washboard drive down dusty Forest Service Road 151 northwest of Abiquiu to the monastery, where Benedictine monks brew five of the best beers in the Southwest. Make reservations at least 48 hours in advance. No tasting fee; christdesert.org

MOVIE TIE-IN: Easy Rider. Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper drive their hogs through the Taos Pueblo.

BEST GAS STATION: Bode’s General Store in Abiquiu. In addition to gas, it sells six-packs of monastery beer and virtually anything you might need to set up a homestead in the Wild West. bodes.com

BEST SOUVENIR: Holy dirt. From El Santuario de Chimayó. holychimayo.us

BEST ROAD FOOD: Breakfast burrito. In Española, El Parasol’s bacon-and-green-chile burrito at the stand outside El Paragua restaurant. $; elparasol.com

    1 of 1

    Most Popular

    1. 53 favorite backyard projects

      Our favorite DIY patios, paths, trellises, planters, fountains, and more
    2. 10 raised bed garden ideas
    3. 20 favorite perennial flowers
    4. Top 45 hikes in the West
    5. 20 colorful plants for shade gardens