To get to Santa Fe, rather than returning the way we arrived in Taos along the Rio Grande, we drove an alternate route, called the High Road, which winds through small towns in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. All the towns are at least 7,500 ft in elevation (with Truchas at an amazing 8,000 ft), many of them homes to artists and craftspeople, some descendants of the original Spanish settlers. A portion of the highway south of Truchas hugs a mountainside, a ridge that provides spectacular views. The entire highway is designated a New Mexico scenic byway.
In Las Trampas, the cemetery alongside the San Jose de Gracia church has plots of what I assume are the ancestors of my high school Latin teacher, Mr. Leyba, who came from New Mexico.
The most popular community is Chimayo, where we visited Chimayo Trading & Mercantile (affiliated with Chimayo Trading del Norte in Ranchos de Taos), Santuario de Chimayo, and Leona’s, a restaurant across the walkway from the church.
The Santuario is a pilgrimage site after curative powers and other miraculous legends have been ascribed to it. It is also a National Historic Landmark.