Pack your bags, hit the road and discover treasures near and far
By stephanie noll
Let’s face it: for many of us, the past two years have contributed to feelings of uncertainty and anxiety, exhaustion and unease. While the pandemic raged and receded and then raged again, staying home (and working from home, and going to school from home) became the norm. Suddenly our social media feeds were full of pictures of fresh baked bread and crocheted creations. But as Covid fears fade, people are ready to walk away from their ovens and DIY projects and explore.
In “7 Ways Travel Can Benefit Your Mental Health” for travel site lonelyplanet.com, Emma Sparks writes: “Even in these times when traveling far distances can feel uncertain, changing up your daily routine at a nearby town or locale on a weekend day can help to change your mindset and help to ease the stress of the daily grind.” You don’t have to get on a plane or drive for days to experience a change of scenery; Northern New Mexico — and spots close to your backyard — can offer just what you need to reignite a sense of adventure, transform perspective or relax and regroup.
The most Instagram-able on the list, Hotel Luna Mystica is a vintage trailer hotel surrounded by sagebrush, open skies, and views of the peaks of Taos Ski Valley. If you have a friend you haven’t seen since the pandemic began or need a night away with your love, this is the place. Twenty trailers
of varying sizes encircle a common open space complete with fire pits. Dogs — and fixings for s’mores — are most welcomed.
At the southern end of town, the Sagebrush Inn and Suites offers a beautiful welcome to those visiting Taos. It’s also home to the gorgeous Sagebrush Cantina, where anyone can enjoy live music every night of the week. Most rooms have a kiva-inspired fireplace, guests have access to a heated outdoor pool and several rooms have patios or balconies — perfect spots to soak in unobstructed sunsets over the mountains.
Just over an hour from Taos, Cimarron’s welcome sign informs visitors that this is “where the Rockies meet the Plains.” Located on the Santa Fe Trail, the St. James Hotel offers many lodging options, including 13 historic rooms named after illustrious former guests like Buffalo Bill Cody and Annie Oakley, complete with 19th century furnishings.
Guests can walk to Cimarron attractions like the Aztec Mill Museum, Cimarron Mercantile, Schwenk’s Antiques and other historic sites along the Old Town Cimarron Walking Tour. At Cimarron Canyon State Park, just twenty minutes from the St. James, visitors can enjoy hiking and fishing. No matter how you spend your day, dinner and drinks at Lambert’s Restaurant and TJ’s Saloon are a must. Check their website for information about their summer live music series.
Steps from the Plaza and Kit Carson Park, the Historic Taos Inn is for anyone seeking an in-town experience. Its iconic neon sign inspires nostalgia, and the Adobe Bar and Doc Martin’s Restaurant, situated on the ground floor, invite guests to unwind after walking through the farmer’s market, shopping, gallery hopping or hiking. The downtown location is even perfect for locals heading out to have drinks and shoot pool at the Alley Cantina or attending the Taos Summer Concert series.
Along the southern curve of the Enchanted Circle, Eagle Nest sits in a bowl at 8,200 feet, and according to John Yanez, one of the managers at Laguna Vista Resort, it is sometimes the coldest place in the world, with temperatures dropping to well below zero an average of 23 days/year. But it’s a perfect summer spot, with average highs around 76. There are lots of lodging options, ranging from two-room king cabins to two-bedroom apartments, as well as RV hook-ups. Madam’s Restaurant and Coffee Shop is onsite, making it convenient to fuel up or wind down after a day at Eagle Lake, a convenient five minutes from Laguna Vista.
Located at the edge of Carson National Forest and less than two miles from all that downtown Red River has to offer, Tall Pine Resort is open from mid-May through September and is ideal for families seeking cooler summer temperatures. Twenty-three cabins, with names like Golden Calf
and Chickadee, range from singles to 3-bedrooms, with every unit including a private bathroom, kitchen and a porch where you can enjoy morning coffee and gorgeous views. Enjoy a walk along Red River, fish for rainbow trout in Tall Pine Lake (stocked weekly) or bring your mountain bike to ride on Tall Pine Trail.