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Taos, NM & The Enchanted Circle: Top Destination in U.S. for Fall Leaf Peepers

September 9, 2013 Destination North America No Comments Email Email

The foliage along the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway loop near Taos, New Mexico is just weeks away from transitioning to a brilliant fall display of oranges, reds, and yellows, making it one of the most visually stunning drives in the United States. In fact, national media outlets including Travel and Leisure and Forbes Magazine have called Taos and the Enchanted Circle one of the country’s top destinations to enjoy fall foliage.

In late September and early October, the 85-mile Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway is ablaze with shades of gold, orange and red thanks to the changing leaves of cottonwoods, aspens, and other tree varieties.

Taos, NM and the Enchanted Circle Drive - one of the Best Fall Color Drives in the U.S.

Taos, NM and the Enchanted Circle Drive – one of the Best Fall Color Drives in the U.S.

The Byway loop begins in the original art colony of Taos, NM and meanders through the Hondo Valley, rich with history – famous author D.H. Lawrence once lived here. Leaf peepers will notice New Mexico’s highest mountain, Wheeler Peak (13,167 feet) in the background along the windy road to Questa, NM and onto Red River. Elk and other wildlife may be visible in between Bob Cat Pass and Eagle Nest, NM. Finally, drivers will continue to Angel Fire, NM – home of Vietnam Veteran Memorial State Park and Angel Fire Ski Resort. Angel Fire also offers the State’s first and only zipline tours. Depending on stops, the drive can take anywhere from two-and-a-half hours to a half-day.

Though just a short drive off the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, Taos Ski Valley (TSV) is breathtaking in fall and is covered with Aspens, Englemann and Blue Spruce, White Fir and rarely seen Red Fire and Bristlecone Pines. Wildlife including Bighorn Sheep, Rocky Mountain Elk and Mule Deer can often be spotted in the area along with thousands of wildflower varieties. TSV has several hiking/biking trails ranging from two to eight miles in length. Visit for details.

With the dramatic scenery comes several spectacular fall events in Taos Ski Valley and Taos, including those of Taos Grand Fall Arts (Aug. 30–Oct. 27), the Enchanted Circle Festival (Aug. 30–Sept.3), Michael Hearne’s Big Barn Dance Music Festival (Sept. 5–7), Oktoberfest (Sept.14), and more.

Taos, New Mexico’s annual Grand Fall Arts features many colorful events and workshops, one of which is the High Road Art Tour on the weekends of Sept. 21 and 22; and Sept. 28 and 29. Take the beautiful drive between Santa Fe and Taos along the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, where artists will open their studios for the public to see and purchase one-a-kind items. Visit or call 888-866-3643 for details.

On Sept. 28, as part of Grand Fall Arts, art lovers can watch the entire artistic process unfold at the Taos Center for the Arts (TCA) Quick Draw and Art Auction. The Quick Draw takes place at various locations in Taos’ historic district and TCA Courtyard, and the art will be available for purchase by bid later that day. Visit or call 575-758-2052 for details. For a complete list of all Grand Fall Arts events and workshops, visit

Only 18 miles north of Taos along the eye-catching Enchanted Circle, TSV is hosting their third annual “Enchanted Circle Festival” from Aug. 30 through Sept. 3 featuring several bands, art, and more. Visit for details.

On Sept. 5 through 7, world class musician Michael Hearne will bring his 11th annual Big Barn Dance Music Festival to TSV for the first time. The three-day musical extravaganza includes a well known lineup of more than three dozen traditional country, Americana and folk music bands playing in the cool alpine mountain setting of the resort. Doors open at 1 p.m. on Sept. 5. Ticket prices range from $25 to $100 each. Visit to purchase tickets.

Being that TSV was originally settled by Swiss German pioneers over 50 years ago, it’s a fitting venue for celebrating Oktoberfest, Sept. 14 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oktoberfest is a family friendly event complete with Oompah Band music; bouncy castle, face painting and popcorn for kids; Bavarian food and beer garden; and Taos artisan crafts fair. The festival is free. Visit for details.

When lodging in TSV, Alpine Village Suites is one of several hotels within walking distance of the many fall events in the village. Alpine Village Suites is located just steps from the ski lifts, restaurants and nightlife. Each of its 31 rooms is decorated in a Bavarian ski chalet style with fully-equipped kitchenettes, and offers elegant accommodations with luxury amenities.

Guests of Alpine Village Suites have complimentary use of mountain bikes for touring around the mountains, fishing rods for fishing in cool mountain streams, and disc golf. After a day of exploring the mountains, brilliant with fall colors, guests can unwind and relax in the large outdoor hot tub or the indoor sauna. A complete array of massage and body treatments are available onsite as well.

Call Alpine Village Suites at 800-576-2666 for more information or visit

For more information on Taos, TSV or to download a free driving tour map of the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, visit or and click on “Enchanted Circle.”

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