Sunday, August 18, 2019

Enchanted Circle a great New Mexico roadtrip

The visitor pavilion at Eagle Nest Lake State Park.
New Mexico’s high country is looking great after a long snowy winter and plenty of rain this summer.
And a good way to enjoy some of that scenic beauty is to take a drive along the Enchanted Circle, a 65-mile round trip from Questa through Red River, over to Eagle Nest and back to Taos.

A recent drive revealed anglers reeling in trout at recently restored Eagle Rock Lake off N.M. 38 just outside the town of Questa. The picturesque lake is stocked regularly and is a great place to cast a line before heading over to Red River.

Eagle Rock Lake.
A quintessential summer resort town, Red River offers so much to do one needs to stop and ponder it all before proceeding. The patio at Red River Brewing Company overlooking busy Main Street offers great spot to do that.

Tucked in a canyon surrounded by heavily forested mountains, outdoor recreation and the visitors it brings are the primary focus of Red River’s economy.
Main Street of Red River N.M.
A walk about the teaming tourist town reveals a go-cart track to race around while the nearby ski area lift offers a lazier and more scenic ride.

Horseback rides, off-road vehicle rentals and guided fishing trips can be had while plenty of restaurants, saloons, gift shops, sporting goods stores and art galleries round out the town’s offerings.

The area features numerous campgrounds, motels and hotels for visitors to stay in and attracts many guests from nearby plains states such as Texas and Oklahoma.

Upon leaving Red River, the Enchanted Circle tour continues with a climb over Bobcat Pass at 9,800 feet and winds down into the rural Moreno Valley.

Bobcat Pass.
The valley had once been a booming gold mining area with the city of Elizabethtown at its heart. At the time it boasted a population of 7,000 with saloons, gambling halls, theatres, businesses and several newspapers.

Now the gold and the town are gone and the valley is a quiet place dominated by sprawling ranches and expansive views.

The highway ends at Eagle Nest where the local state park and its beautiful visitor center features a beautiful outdoor pavilion overlooking the lake. This spot is one of the state’s best kept secrets and is a great place to stop for a picnic and some fishing.

The state park also features a campground for those who might want spend the night while the nearby town offers overnight accommodations, gas and groceries, fishing supplies and a classic western style saloon.

The valley also is home to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park where visitors can learn more about those who served and died in that war.

The Enchanted Circle commences on U.S. 64, up and over 9,100 foot Palo Flechado Pass and down through a twisty canyon along which the Rio Fernando de Taos flows. At the intersection of N.M. 585 travelers can head west to reunite with N.M. 68 and take that road back home.

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