THIS PAGE IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION, AND IS BEING COMPLETED PIECE BY PIECE BY THE AUTHOR. ALWAYS VERIFY ANY INFORMATION YOU READ ON THIS SITE. DO NOT USE THIS AS A SINGLE SOURCE OF INFORMATION. 

 

INTRODUCTION

Long favored by the author, the High Road to the holy site in Chimayó is a breathtaking journey where you are sure to be surprised by wonder. 

 

The general path goes something like this: begin in Ranchos de Taos at the church there (San Francisco de Asís), and walk your way down the “high road” through Peñasco, Trampas, Truchas, and finally to Chimayó. This all happens while going through a hundred smaller towns along the way. 

 

There are many similarities between the “Way of St. James” (i.e. the camino in Spain) and this New Mexican camino. From the mix of hispanic and native American culture, to the pilgrimage site itself, and finally to the terrain – there is quite a lot of commonality between the two. 

Every year on Good Friday, thousands of pilgrims make their way on what for most is a day-long pilgrimage to the santuario de Chimayó. 

For those that desire to complete an overnight pilgrimage, creativity must be used for at least one reason – there are no active shelters (known as albergues on the camino in Spain) in the area. Perhaps one day there will be shelters throughout the area – but for now, you must think of other places to sleep. There is one exception to this: at least one organization that leads pilgrimages has developed contacts with individuals and churches on the High Road that let pilgrims sleep there (Creatio: see website)

 

GENERAL PATH

 

Day 1a – Road Walk: Ranchos de Taos to Peñasco

Description: This is quite a long day, and is entirely on the road walking. But the only other alternative in walking the mountain pass (detailed below), and sometimes the snow blocks the mountain pass, making this the only walkable path. No cell phone for majority of route until you get to Peñasco. 

 

Route Preparation+Details

GPS FILE (.kmz)

Mileage: 22.0 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,867 ft

High Point: 8,527 feet

Low Point: 6,923 feet

 

General Directions:

0.0 – Begin at San Francisco de Asís, head southeast on St. Francis Plaza Rd
420 ft – Turn left on Valerio Rd
0.6 mi – Continue straight on East Camino Abajo De La Loma
1.4 mi – Turn right on NM 518-S
15.6 mi – At the tee, turn right on NM-75 W towards Peñasco
21.1 mi – San Antonio Parish will be on left.

 

Housing

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. As I write this, there is not an AirBNB / HomeAway house in the middle of the route. So you are left with two choices: either finish the route in one long day of 22 miles 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. 

 

Food

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

Smu-in-Taos at Fort Burgwin (private university)

Pot Creek Cultural Site

 

Churches

San Francisco de Asís – 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

Website

 

Nuestra Senora de San Juan de Los Lagos

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 4th Saturday at 5:00PM. Call San Francisco to verify the mass time / other information.  See map  for exact location, which is just a mile and a half or so south of Ranchos de Taos.  

Nuestra Señora de la Asunción (Our Lady of the Ascension)

This small church is located two miles east of Vadito. I have not been able to confirm any details regarding the church.

Map Location

 

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. 

Route Preparation+Details

 GPS FILE  (.kmz)

Mileage: 17.6 miles

Elevation Gain: 3,154 ft

High Point: 9,226 feet

Low Point: 6,903 feet

 

Housing

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.

 

Food

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

 

Churches

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

Website

 

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

 

Nuestra Señora de la Asunción (Our Lady of the Ascension) – VADITO

This small church is located two miles east of Vadito. I have not been able to confirm any details regarding the church. 

Map Location

 

San Antonio-Padua Church – PEÑASCO

This active church in Peñasco has several masses every weekend. Unfortunately no website exists for the parish. Mass Times: Sunday 8:30AM, 7:00PM at San Antonio

Phone: (575) 587-211

Address: 14079 NM-75, Peñasco, NM 87553

 

Day 2 –  Peñasco to Truchas

 

Description

 

Route Preparation+Details

  GPS FILE   (.kmz)

Mileage:  miles

Elevation Gain:  ft

High Point:  feet

Low Point:  feet