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Road trip: Cross into New Mexico's splendors

Road trip: Cross into New Mexico's splendors
A colorful sky forms the backdrop to the bridge spanning the Rio Grande Gorge near Taos, New Mexico. ** OUTS - ELSENT, FPG, CM - OUTS * NM, PH, VA if sourced by CT, LA or MoD ** (Allen Allnoch / Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The route: From Taos, N.M., take U.S. 64 west to County Road CB-115/Upper Rim Road west, then New Mexico 567 west to U.S. 285 south in Carson. Turn left on Old Highway 285 to Ojo Caliente.

Miles: About 40 miles. You can return to Taos, or head to Santa Fe, N.M., about 50 miles south.

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Best time: Summers and holiday weekends draw crowds; spring and fall are better.

Why: Go for a drive through wide-open spaces under blue skies with mountains looming in the distance. The dry plain turns into forest; you'll have the road to yourself for long stretches so roll down the windows and enjoy the ride.

Highlights: First up: the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge rest stop. Walk to a lookout spot on the steel arch bridge and take a selfie with the river 600 feet below.

The self-sustaining buildings at Earthship Biotecture in New Mexico.
The self-sustaining buildings at Earthship Biotecture in New Mexico. (Irene Lechowitzky)

Drive a mile past the Upper Rim Road turnoff to Earthship Biotecture and its mind-blowing sustainable construction. Halfway to your destination, take a hike in Carson National Forest. Hop from one pool to another at the Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa to sample four kinds of natural mineral springs: iron, lithia, arsenic and soda. It just might cure what ails ya.

Memorable stay: Rough it at the historic hotel at the Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa. The rooms at the hotel, built in 1916, can feel a bit small and have half-bathrooms (no showers, you’ll bathe in the bathhouses). If that's not your thing, choose one of the newer, roomier suites or cottages. Lodging includes access to the pools.

(Lou Spirito / For The Times)

Memorable meal: The hotel’s Artesian Restaurant has a casual Old West vibe. The chicken pot pie was excellent as was the Ojo club wrap, club sandwich fixings rolled in a sun-dried tomato tortilla.

Tourist trap or treat: The Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa is a treat — with one “trap”: The weekends can be crowded and noisy, even in a spot filled with signs marking it as a “quiet” zone.

Plan to spend: It's an easy day of exploring and spa-ing that can easily turn into a couple of days of soaking awayyour cares.

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