Day 1b – Mountain Pass: Ranchos de Taos to Peñasco
Description: This 17.6 mile mountain bypass traverses through old trails in the Carson National Forest. Like the road pass (Day 1a), it begins at the church of San Francisco de Asís in Ranchos de Taos. There is usually zero cell phone service in the mountains.
It is absolutely critical to have an offline GPS on this route as there is not a great way to explain the directions once you enter the national forest. There are many turns and taking just one wrong turn won’t be good.
Due to snow build-up in the mountains, it also critical to talk to locals about how much snow is in the mountains. The NOHRSC NOAA interactive snow information map has been helpful in the past for me to predict the snow depth in the mountains. Sometimes, the snow is too much and you have to choose a different route.
– GPS FILE (.kmz)
– Mileage: 17.6 miles
– Elevation Gain: 3,154 ft
– High Point: 9,226 feet
– Low Point: 6,903 feet
Plenty of Airbnb’s exists in Ranchos de Taos, and Peñasco – so no problem finding a place to sleep at the beginning or end of the route. There are no cabins in the Carson National Forest along the mountain pass So you are left with two choices: either finish the route in one day OR camp somewhere in the Carson National Forest along the route. (Map Here). I recommend starting the day early to finish the route in one day.
No food along the way. Stock up in Taos, or go to one of the little stores in Peñasco! There are great restaurants in Taos and Peñasco.
Interesting things along route
– the Pilgrim’s Cross, on the high-point of the mountain pass, where you can drop a stone on the pile
– Ponce de Leon Hot Springs – this is 1.4 miles (one-way) off-trail
San Francisco de Asís – RANCHOS DE TAOS
You would be missing out on quite a lot if you did not visit the iconic church of San Francisco in Ranchos de Taos. The lively parish always has things going on. A personal note: this is where I have always started pilgrimages I have led on. There is something so special about this holy church. It is a fitting place to begin the pilgrimage.
Mass times: 1st Saturday, 5th Saturday at 5:00PM, Sunday 8AM Spanish Mass, 10AM English Mass
Address: 60 St Francis Plaza, Ranchos De Taos, NM 87557
Phone: (575) 758-2754
Capilla de Nuestra Señora del Carmen – RANCHOS DE TAOS
This small mission of the mother church of the area (San Francisco de Asís) has a monthly mass. As of writing this, the mass is on the 2nd Saturday at 5:00PM. Call San Francisco to verify the mass time / other information. See map for exact location, which is just a half-mile south-west of Ranchos de Taos.
Address: 29 State Rd 382, Ranchos De Taos, NM 87557