Arriving in Questa, at the junction of Highway 38 and Highway 522, you’re back in Spanish New Mexico. The town, which now has a population of about 1,700, was established in 1842 and is still primarily a Hispano farming village, though a few Anglo newcomers have set up art galleries here.
The heart of town is the 1841 San Antonio Church, a handsome white stucco structure with a red metal roof and distinctively New Mexican spiral pine columns on either side of the front door.
Just south of the junction, look for signs to the Northern New Mexico Historical Society & Museum (noon–5 p.m. Thurs.–Sun., summer only, free), started by a Questa native who’s enthusiastic about showing visitors through the restored adobe house that holds beautiful quilts and other local relics, WPA-era photos of the town, and a room dedicated to the history of the Molycorp mine.
Turning south on Highway 522, you’re on the final leg of the Enchanted Circle loop; the Questa Café (575/586-9631, 6 a.m.–10 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 6 a.m.–3 p.m. Sun., $6), about half a mile south of the junction, is the best place in town for hearty New Mexican home cooking.
Or Paloma Blanca (575/586-2261, 7 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon.–Sat., $3), Questa’s only coffeehouse, offers a pick-me-up for the end of the drive. It’s about a mile farther south from Questa Café.
© Zora O'Neill from Moon Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque, 2nd edition