Elizabeth Anne VanderPutten - The Road from Taos

From Taos we drove south on route 68, the old El Camino Real. At Pilar we met up with the Rio Grande again near the Orilla Verde Recreation Area. From there we followed the river to Espanola (which celebrated its 400th anniversary in 1998), stopping along the way at the Iglesia de la Virgen de Guadalupe mission church in Velardi. From Espanola we drove west toward our next stop, the Bandelier National Monument.

Though less spectacular than the High Road to Taos, the River Road was no less beautiful. Alternating between high plateau vistas and river side scenes in deep canyons, the road wound smoothly through the high desert.

South of Los Alamos, we found another "unexpected joy," the spectacular White Rock Overlook. Perched high on rocky cliffs, I looked down on the Rio Grande as it wove its way through the canyons from Espanola down through White Rock Canyon and on by Bandelier National Monument, the next stop on our trip (see Jemez Country Map).


Local Cemetery

Shortly after leaving Taos, we came upon this small, unpretentious cemetery. I was touched by its simplicity and by the care with which it is obviously tended.

There were fresh flowers on many graves and head stones. Others were adorned with colorful ribbons and other decorations although this was mid- week and not a feast day that I know of.


September 18, 1999


September 18, 1999

El Camino Real

Perhaps 10 miles south of Taos highway 68 -- the El Camino Real -- starts down through the long and beautiful canyon that we are about to enter


Rio Grande Fishing

We drove along the Rio Grande from Pilar to Espanola.

This scene of the river is at the lower end of the canyon and is obviously a favorite area for fishing.


September 18, 1999


September 18, 1999

On Highway 502 to Los Alamos

At Espanola we took route 30 south and then highway 502 west toward Los Alamos and Bandelier National Monument.

It is clear from the newness and width of the road that Los Alamos is a more important destination, at least in economic terms, to the New Mexico Highway Department than Taos.


White Rock Overlook Park

Another one of the lovely surprises for which New Mexico has become famous with me turned up on the way to Bandelier National Monument.

Before reaching Los Alamos we had turned south and came across a town that was obviously a bedroom community for Los Alamos. As we were driving through the town we saw a couple of signs pointing to White Rock Overlook Park about which we knew nothing.

On a chance, we drove on down.

September 18, 1999

September 18, 1999

Rio Grande from White Rock Overlook (Looking North)

This is the view from White Rock Overlook looking northeast at the Rio Grande as it winds southward through the canyons from Espanola.

A cloud had momentarily thrown a shadow over the distant mountains and the nearer canyon walls, but the sun was now starting to break through on a small area of the river.


Rio Grande from White Rock Overlook (Looking South)

High on the rocky cliffs I can see the Rio Grande winding on down through the White Rock Canyon. The Rio Grande divides two great plateaus, the Caja Del Rio on the east and the Parjarito on the west.


September 18, 1999

View (below) from White Rock Overlook southwest toward Black Mesa (alone in left center) and Buckman Mesa (dominant), with Rio Grande in valley

September 18, 1999


Email: Elizabeth Anne VanderPutten