Tuesday, October 3, 2023


Traveling New Mexico’s U.S. Highway 64: Stops, sights, eats, and more

We have visited New Mexico annually for the past 40 years. During that time we have seen many changes in the towns and cities along the way. However, some places never seem to change. One of those is the road from Taos to Tierra Amarilla, U.S. Highway 64. Before we hit the Brazos Summit, here are a few stops along the way.

Getting to U.S. Highway 64

U.S. Highway 64 stretches 2,326 miles from North Carolina to Arizona. Of that, about 230 miles cross northern New Mexico, entering from the east at Clayton and exiting just NW of Beclabito before ending at Teek Nos Pos, AZ. Although the crossing offers many sights along the way, the 80-mile stretch over the Brazos Summit provides a desert-plateau-to-mountain-forest view of the state.

Starting Point: Taos, NM

U.S. Highway 64 bisecting Taos goes by the name Paseo Del Pueblo Sur (south), changing to Norte (north) at Kit Carson Road. If you decide to do a bit of tourist walking, a public parking lot is just off Camino De La Placate between Taos Middle School and Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. A walk across the street brings you to the old Taos Plaza. Your favorite travel app can give you places to go and things to do.

As far as places to eat, let me suggest three: Antonio’s The Taste of Mexico on the south side, La Cueva Cafe at the Taos Plaza, and Orlando’s New Mexican Cafe on the north side. All hold at least 4-star recommendations on Yelp. And, if you want to browse around Taos for the day but you have fur babies, here is your answer: 10,000 Wags Pet Resort. 

Blue doors of the Taos Pueblo off Highway 64
Cogswell, Ron/Flickr

You should visit the Taos Pueblo, as well. Continuously inhabited for more than 1,000 years, it is designated both a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a National Historic Landmark. Should your travels take you there during a ceremony open to the public, you must go. You might be invited to participate in a dance, as we were.

Taos to Tres Piedras

Leaving Taos, take a left at the last traffic light on Paseo Del Pueblo Norte. From there Tres Piedras is about 25 miles. Along that stretch, you will find two stops of interest: Rio Grande Gorge and Greater World Earthship Community.

Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

Rio Grande Gorge

In about 8 miles, your route takes you across the Rio Grande Rift bordered on the east by the Sangre de Christo Mountains and the west by the Tusas Mountains. Approximately in the middle runs the Rio Grande, which, after several millions of years, cut out the magnificent Gorge. The Gorge Bridge, the second-highest bridge of the U.S. Highway System and the fifth-highest bridge in the United States, sits 650 feet above the river. Parking is available on either side of the 1,280-foot span. Walkways with appreciated railings stretch along the sides, as well.

Earthship Visitor Center
Kim, Eugene/Flickr

Greater World Earthship Community

About a mile-and-a-half down the road finds you here. The Community asks that you not drive around. However, you can learn about its structures in the Earthship Biotecture Visitors Center. The Community consists of Earthships, off-the-grid, self-sustainable structures built primarily from recycled and earthen materials. The design combines architecture and technology to make its own energy, food, and water. Well worth the price of admission.

Rael, Michael/Flickr

After crossing the Taos Plateau you arrive at Tres Piedras, Spanish for three rocks. Its name stems from three large granite outcroppings that attract rock climbers. This unincorporated community lies at the intersection of U.S. Highways 64 and 285. Located within the San Juan Range of the Rocky Mountains, the village is a southern doorway for hunters to the Carson National Forest. Santa Fe, NM, is 80 miles to the south, and Antonito, CO, is 30 miles to the north.

We are now about one-third through our trip. Next month we will drive the Brazos Summit Road from Tres Piedras to Tierra Amarilla.

Wait. What! If the alluvium were removed from the Rio Grande Gorge, then it would be six times deeper than the Grand Canyon.

Happy Travels!

Also from Dale Wade’s Nature’s Highways


Dale Wade
Dale Wadehttps://wadevillage.com
Dale Wade is a Master Naturalist and a Master Gardener. He participates in many citizen science projects pertaining to learning and preserving all things nature.


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Neal Davis
1 month ago

Thank you, Dale. I have traveled US 64, but only here in east Tennessee. I will try to keep this information in mind if we get that far west.

1 month ago

Camino de la Placita not Placata. Antonio’s is the worst, least tasty restaurant in Taos. There are better food trailers along Paseo del Pueblo Sur.

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