Detouring right (east) along Highway 518, you reach Sipapu (Hwy. 518, 800/587-2240, www.sipapunm.com), an unassuming, inexpensive ski resort—really, just a handful of cabins at the base of a 9,255-foot mountain. Cheap lift tickets ($39 full day), cabins from $39 per night, and utter quiet make this a bargain getaway.
You can also take a nice afternoon hike along Cañon Tio Maes, a two-mile trail up to a meadow filled with flowers and aspen trees—plan about 2.5 hours for a leisurely round-trip. A longer hike—more like six miles and four hours round-trip—goes to Gallegos Peak (10,258 feet), where you can look over to the snow-capped Truchas Peaks, another 2,800 feet up.
The Cañon Tio Maes trailhead (no. 5) is 3.2 miles east on Highway 518 before you reach Sipapu; it’s unmarked coming from this direction—look for a paved road on the left side that doubles back along the highway for a short stretch.
For Gallegos Peak, drive to the Flechado Canyon Campground, 5.4 miles east of the junction, immediately past Sipapu; the trailhead is across the road.
Returning to the junction, continue to Taos via Highway 518, which soon descends into a valley and passes Pot Creek Cultural Site (505/587-2255, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Wed.–Sun. July–Aug.), a mildly interesting diversion for its one-mile loop trail through ancestral Puebloan ruins from around 1100.
You arrive in Taos at its very southern end—really, in Ranchos de Taos, just north of the San Francisco de Asis Church on Highway 68. Turn left to see the church, or turn right to head up to the town plaza and to Taos Pueblo.
© Zora O'Neill from Moon Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque, 2nd edition