Enchanted Circle Driveabout – 10/13/2016

Day two of our visit to Taos – Pat & I drove the Enchanted Circle from Taos to Questa, through the Red River Canyon to Eagle Nest, then south and west back to Taos, having driven fully around Mount Wheeler, the tallest mountain in New Mexico.  In a conversation with a lady in a shop in Eagle Nest, we took a side trip to Cimarron for lunch at the Saint James Hotel.

Enchanted Circle Driveabout

Enchanted Circle Driveabout

Our timing for this trip could not have been better to enjoy the autumn colors in New Mexico.  On the way to Questa we passed by bright yellow cottonwood trees all along the highway, and we could see on the mountain 5 to 10 miles distant great splashes of yellow aspen.  Driving up Red River Canyon, there was hardly a break in the continuous flow of cottonwood and aspen in their full autumn color – bright golden yellow – with other trees and grasses adding their colors.  Scattered along the way were amazing cliffs, hundreds of feet above the roadway, adding even more spectacle to the drive – truly spectacular.


The attraction in Cimarron was the St James Hotel, the site of some early history in the west which reportedly left the hotel Haunted. We didn’t see any ghosts or other signs of skulduggery, but we had a nice lunch in their restaurant.  The drive back delivered more New Mexico Enchantment (‘tho nothing like the drive up the Red River).


Total Distance:  143 miles
Elevation: start  6,949 ft, maximum  9,913 ft,  minimum  6,513 ft
Gross gain: 3,400 ft.  Aggregate ascending 19,610 ft, descending 19,548 ft
Maximum slope: 28% ascending, 27% descending, 3.8% average
Duration: 5:42

GPS Track Files for Download
If you haven’t explored these hiking tracks with Google Earth, I urge you to try it. With the virtual 3-dimensional presentation, achieved by panning and tilting the view, you can get a much better idea of the hikes and terrain than you can get from the screenshot above. For some ideas, check out  Using Google Earth Track Files.
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