Enchanted Circle Drive - Taos, New Mexico - Scenic Loop Around Wheeler Peak

The Enchanted Circle Drive covers 84 miles of scenic Northern New Mexico, going all the way around Wheeler Peak, the highest mountain in the state at 13,161 feet. The drive begins at Taos Plaza and loops through the towns of Questa, Red River, Eagle Nest and Angel Fire. It has been designated a National Forest Scenic Byway.

Along the way, look for quartz and feldspar rocks that are two billion years old. There is a D.H. Lawrence Memorial in Hondo Valley, near the author's former ranch. Red River Fish Hatchery offers free self-guided tours of a show pond and trout raceways. And Artesanos de Questa has the work of local woodworkers, painters, tinsmiths, stained glass artists and sculptors on display.

Mining has played a major role in this area. Molycorp, Inc. has operations here, mining and milling molybdenum. Elizabethtown was established in 1870 during the gold rush. Other stops include a Vietnam Veterans Memorial and a visit to the resort at Angel Fire, for skiing, golfing, shopping and restaurants.

To make the Enchanted Circle Drive clockwise, head north from Taos Plaza on U.S. Highway 64 and continue on State Route 522, turn east onto State Route 38, and return via U.S. Highway 64. Look for Enchanted Circle markers to show the way. The total travel time, with stops for sightseeing, is two and a half to four hours.

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