The Enchanted Circle is one of New Mexico’s greatest treasures. The 84-mile designated scenic byway loops through mountains, valleys, mesas, and national forest land. Circling Wheeler Peak, the highest mountain in New Mexico at 13,161 feet, the Enchanted Circle connects Taos, Angel Fire, Eagle Nest, Red River, and Questa.
The communities along the Enchanted Circle are home to some of the best outdoor recreation in the state. Visitors can discover abundant skiing and snowboarding, hiking in Carson National Forest, fishing for brown trout in a high-altitude river, horseback riding in the mountains, or hot air balloon rides across the valley. While visitors are driving, they should keep an eye out for quartz and feldspar, some of the oldest rocks in the Southwest that date back two billion years.
The Enchanted Circle also gives visitors a chance to be fully immersed in the culture, art, and history of the southwest. Festivals, brewery or winery tours, and shopping at the area’s quirky shops are all part of the Enchanted Circle experience. Artist communities in Angel Fire, Taos and Questa hold studio tours for visitors to gain insight about the Northern New Mexico painters, sculptors, photographers, ceramicists, and weavers that call this area home.
Town of Taos
Taos is backed by a rich and dynamic history that drives a thriving arts and cultural scene. With Taos Pueblo, a living Native American community that has been continuously inhabited for more than 1,000 years on the north side of town, the Taos Plaza, where both locals and visitors alike can gather to shop, eat, and visit some of the many art galleries, in the heart of downtown, and San Francisco de Asis Church, which has been an inspirational force for Georgia O’Keeffe and other artists, to the south, Taos has something for everyone.
There is no shortage of outdoor adventure in Red River. In the summer, spend the day hiking through Carson National Forest, explore the mountains, streams, and lakes on mountain bike, or take the chairlift to ride down expertly maintained trails. Anglers can enjoy prime lake fishing and wild streams, paddlers can raft some of the best rapids on the Rio Grande, and equestrians can take breathtaking sunset rides.
Red River Ski & Summer Area offers opportunities for all abilities on its 63 trails. The Moon-Star Mining Camp is great for beginners while the terrain parks will keep the adrenaline-seeking riders coming back for more.
Located just 24 miles north of Taos and 12 miles west of Red River, the small, historic village of Questa is a wonderful base camp for Northern New Mexico adventure. Located at the confluence of the Rio Grande and Red River and surrounded by thousands of acres of protected wilderness, Questa is the gateway to the 240,000-acre Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, a haven for rafting, fishing, biking, camping, and rock climbing. Questa is also home to many artists who open up their workspaces during the Questa Studio Arts Tour.
Angel Fire is a year-round destination for all things outdoors. With crisp mornings during the summer months, visitors can enjoy ziplining through the woods, hiking the Oeste Vista Loop, mountain biking trails for all abilities, and an 18-hole course surrounded by the magical Southern Rocky Mountains.
Winter transforms Angel Fire into an incredible snowy playground. With more than 80 runs for all levels of skiers and snowboarders, Angel Fire offers everything from gentle wide-open slopes to steep runs, sledding, and tubing.
Gunslingers and gold mining are a large part of the storied past of Eagle Nest. Today, the small town boasts a wide array of nearby recreation. Just east of town on US 64 is Cimarron Canyon State Park, an excellent place for fishing, hiking, and camping. Eagle Nest Lake State Park is regularly stocked with trout and salmon that anglers can fish in year-round. Eagle Nest is also home to the Enchanted Circle Gateway Museum, which features cultural and historical exhibits of the surrounding area.