Drive time is approximately 2 hours.
From the Albuquerque International Airport, travel west on Sunport Boulevard to I-25. Take I-25 North toward Santa Fe. This part of the drive will take you through many Native American reservations. In fact, before you get out of Albuquerque, you can take the Tramway Exit to the beautiful Sandia Resort & Casino, owned and operated by the Sandia Pueblo. This exit will also take you to the world’s longest tram at the Sandia Peak Ski & Tramway. After leaving Albuquerque, you will notice a slow, upward grade; this is La Bajada Hill, a 1,000-foot climb to the top of Caja del Rio Plateau. Before getting into Santa Fe, take NM 599, the “Santa Fe Relief Route.” This bypasses Santa Fe and then intersects US 84/285. Take US 84/285 toward Espanola and Taos. Proceed with either of the following routes:
Most Direct Route (the “River Road”):
Travel through Camel Rock (note the rock formation to the left) and Pojoaque toward Espanola. Just south of Espanola, veer right onto NM 68 North. Travel toward Taos through Vilarde, Embudo, and Pilar (site of the Battle of Cienguilla, in which Cantonment Burgwin soldiers participated). There will be several places along this part of the drive that you can easily see the old stagecoach road running parallel to the highway, on the other side of the Rio Grande River.
To get to the SMU-in-Taos campus: Just south of Taos, NM 518 intersects NM 68 to the right. Turn right on NM 518 and drive 6 miles – through Talpa and into the Carson National Forest – to the SMU-in-Taos campus. The entrance to the campus is on the right and flanked by adobe walls.
To go into Taos: Continue on NM 68, past the intersection at 518, into Taos. In Taos, NM 68 becomes Paseo del Pueblo Sur (South Pueblo Road).
Most Scenic Route (the “High Road”):
Just past Pojoaque, US 84/285 intersects NM 503, indicated on the road sign as the Nambe exit. Turn right and stay on NM 503 past Nambe to the intersection with NM 98. Take NM 98 left to Chimayo. (Sanctuario de Chimayo, a well-known pilgrimage site, will be on the right. The Chimayo Valley is known for its rug-weaving traditions; for excellent examples, look for Trujillo’s, Centinela, and Ortega’s.) At the intersection with NM 76, turn right toward Cordova (wonderful woodworkers here) and Truchas. In Truchas, veer left at the sign pointing to Ojo Sarco/Chamisal so that you remain on NM 76 (this is an easy-to-miss intersection, so look for a large, colorful wall mural on an adobe building that is on the northeast corner of the intersection where you veer left). Continue through the villages of Las Trampas and Chamisal. (The Las Trampas Church was built in 1760, following the settlement of the town in 1751. This area was populated in an attempt to prevent Apache raids of the Chimayo Valley. The church is an excellent example of early New Mexico church-building.) Just past Chamisal, turn right onto NM 75 and proceed through Penasco and Vadito. At the intersection with NM 518, turn left at the rockwall and continue toward Taos (up U.S. Hill).
To get to the SMU-in-Taos campus: Proceed up NM 518 approximately 12 miles; the entrance to the campus is on the left (at the bottom of U.S. Hill) and flanked by adobe walls. Use the second entrance to the campus.
To go into Taos: Continue on NM 518, past the entrance to the SMU-in-Taos campus. 6 miles further (at Ranchos de Taos), NM 518 intersects NM 68. Turn right on NM 68, which becomes Paseo del Pueblo Sur (South Pueblo Road) and takes you directly into Taos.
Beyond the intersection of NM 68 (Paseo del Pueblo Sur) and NM 518:
- The Taos Visitors Center is 2 miles on the right
- The Bean South (Taos’ version of Starbucks) is 2.5 miles on the right
- The Taos Plaza is 4.5 miles on the left
- The Fechin Inn (800-811-2933
or 505 751-1000) is 5 miles on the right
- Download a map of Taos hotels, restaurants, and points of interest.
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For more information about the Taos area,
visit the Taos Chamber and Visitors Center.
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