Club Wyndham Taos is my destination and only the second time I have been to the State of New Mexico, so I am ready to go for several days and check it out.
Video by Family Destinations Guide
Day One Travel & Arrival
My journey starts with a flight to Albuquerque and then I drive my rental car to the resort. I could have taken another flight to the local, regional airport, but given that I have not seen much of the state, I chose to drive to the resort instead. The drive is long enough at 2 ½ hours that some may want to fly to the regional airport instead. For me, the 137-mile distance did not bother me much.
I had a comfortable rental car with great AC, which was needed in the afternoon heat for sure. It was September, and the temperature was in the high 80s still. Which felt cooler than it did back home in Virginia because in New Mexico is a dry heat.
The drive felt a little long because there were things along the roadway but the area has a remote feeling. I did see small Casinos along the road and considered stopping at one, but as it was; I was on track to reach the resort around check-in time, so I kept moving down the road. I figured I will stop somewhere along the way to eat.
For an early dinner, I stopped just a short distance from the resort at TaoSeno which was a nice small local spot with what tasted like authentic Mexican dishes and some local favorites. It was a good meal and since I was close to the resort, I also grabbed a few drinks. Whenever I fly, I like to unwind afterward, we have a few cocktails.
The resort has a very southwest adobe-style look and feel. On the inside the lobby area, it has an open wood feeling that I really liked. The wood carving was all around and gave the resort a very established feeling. Everything was clean and new, but it was designed like a set from a western movie where someone was visiting a grand Mexican hacienda.
Wood beams and poles throughout with the whitewash paint on the inside ceiling and walls really made it come alive.
The villas here are 1-bedroom or studio and I have a 1-bedroom for the trip. It is about 500 sq ft in size and the villas range from under 500 to just over 600. The room felt large, and the Pullman was a nice option if you had a family together on the trip. Some rooms have a sleeper sofa instead. A few villas have fireplaces if that is a must for you to check with them when you book for availability.
- Cable TV
- Coffee Maker
- Ice Maker
- Iron/Ironing Board
- Whirlpool Bath
- Activities Center
- BBQ Grills
- Hot Tub (Outdoor)
- Fitness Room
- Swimming Pool (Outdoor/Seasonal)
This resort has many great reviews here are a few to enjoy.
This was a nice, quiet, beautiful resort. Not a full kitchen in ours. We were fine with that. The town and surroundings are breathtaking! The people were very sweet.
I had a nice stay. The place was the friendly, clean, quiet, and had nice decor. Stayed in a studio room. Had a kitchenette with a microwave, sink, fridge, coffee maker, toaster, and dishwasher. No stove though. TV and small patio. Would stay here again.
POSITIVE: We booked a murphy bedroom, and we were pleasantly surprised at how spacious the room was when the bed was up and with how comfortable the bed was. It was our first time staying in a murphy bedroom and we would certainly book one again.
Day Two Traveling by Rail
Today I have booked a neat trip on a local historic steam train. I will travel to and back from 10:00 am- Antonito to Osier by train/ Lunch at Osier Station/ Return to Antonito by train- 4:40 pm so it is a most-of-the-day affair. I recently did another train ride in Colorado that I really enjoyed, so once I saw this option for planning my trip I had to make a reservation.
The description on their website: Enjoy early morning shopping at the Chama Depot for a memorable gift to take home to family members before your train boards for its 10:00 am departure. Take pictures of the locomotive and relax as the crew prepares the engine for a mighty trip up the mountain to Cumbres Pass at 10,015 feet elevation. This trip will thrill and amaze you as the engine puffs up the hill over Lobato and Cascade trestle. Enjoy a hearty lunch at Osier included in the ticket price.
Video by Joe Fusco
DEPARTING CHAMA, NEW MEXICO
The scenic journey unfolds as soon as the train, pulled by its powerful locomotive, leaves the Chama, New Mexico station. In just moments, the steep 4% climb into the mountains begins. First is a remnant of the historic Lobato sheep ranch, an area of rolling meadows with a high trestle that spans the rushing Wolf Creek below. Thin, white aspen trees with shimmering leaves line the grassy hills, and deer, elk, and bears are plentiful.
As the train climbs ever higher, the view backward reveals the entire Chama Valley. Soon, the climb gets steeper—the locomotive is working its hardest to pull the train to Cumbres Pass. The train hugs a sheer rock face as it reaches the summit, where there are alpine meadows sprinkled with wildflowers. The aspens have given way to tall, dark green conifers that frame the spectacular vistas. Here it is noticeably cooler and there can be snow flurries even in summer.
Cascade Creek Trestle Lifts You 137 Feet High
One of the things that make the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad unique is that many of its original buildings remain along the route. At the top of Cumbres Pass is the historic Cumbres section house. Soon after Cumbres comes Tanglefoot Curve, a loop so tight that it almost seems the locomotive will meet the caboose. Trees are sparse and there are vast mountain views crisscrossed by streams teeming with fish.
After crossing Cascade Creek Trestle, the highest on the line, the train pulls into Osier, Colorado, a rustic townsite that is the midway point and lunch stop.
Heading Towards Magnificent Views
Leaving Osier, the train approaches Toltec Gorge. At times, rock walls seem almost to squeeze in from both sides. There are two long tunnels, Mud Tunnel and Rock Tunnel, and Phantom Curve, named for a rock spire that casts a ghostly shadow. The rocky gorge plunges 800 feet and the train snakes carefully along a narrow ledge where the view is straight down.
From here, the terrain softens into hills as the train descends through the aspen trees. Ahead lies the majestic beauty of Colorado. Soon the hills flatten into a broad plain punctuated by distant high peaks and the train rolls into its terminus at Antonito, Colorado.
DEPARTING ANTONITO, COLORADO
The excitement begins the moment the train leaves the station in Antonito, Colorado. Beyond the vast, open San Luis Valley, the imposing peaks of the Rocky Mountains seem to stretch forever. The train quickly covers the flat ground and reaches a series of hills. It crosses Ferguson’s Trestle, named for a man who was hung there, then climbs to a lava mesa, a remnant of the mountains’ volcanic past. From here, the route winds around wide curves, going up into the mountains.
Eleven State Border Crossings
White-barked, slender aspen trees, which turn yellow-gold in fall, form a light, whispery forest. We’ll pass Sublette, New Mexico, an abandoned railroad town that still provides water for the steam locomotives. Shortly after, the train makes another crossing between Colorado and New Mexico state lines. Can you count all eleven?
Rocky and Dramatic
One of the most spectacular parts of the trip starts as the train inches its way along the rim of Toltec Gorge. We’ll head through Mud Tunnel, which is supported by wood beams. Around Phantom Curve, named for a spire of rock that casts a ghostly shadow, then through Rock Tunnel is a narrow ledge where the dizzying view is straight down to the rushing Rio de los Pinos. The train roughly follows this river along much of its route.
Reaching New Heights
We’ll stop for lunch at the old townsite of Osier, Colorado. Past Osier, the train first crosses the 137-foot-tall Cascade Creek Trestle, the highest on the line. Trees are sparse here and the open mountain scenery is magnificent. Around Tanglefoot Curve, a loop so tight that the train seems almost folded in half, the locomotive steams toward Cumbres Pass. At 10,015 feet elevation, it is the highest pass reached by rail in the United States. There are tall conifers and meadows that bloom with wildflowers in spring and summer. At the summit is an old section house, one of many of the railroad’s historic buildings.
It is rare that I share that much content from a trip or a site, but I loved the writing that was provided for you from their website. It was very well done, so I shared some of it with you. If you love history and trains, do not just read that, consider the trip. It can be a little costly, but there are few of these steam trains left. You can also save by booking just a half-day trip which cuts the price in half and then also your seating choices impacts the price too.
A half-day coach fare can be as low as $85 whereas the full round-trip Parlor car experience is $225 a person. There are military, AAA, and AARP discounts which can help with the fare as well. The military discount is 20% which is generous. It applies to coach or regular tickets only.
On Father’s Day, get your tickets ahead of time because Fathers ride free with another paying passenger.
When I arrived back at the train station, I was hungry again. Not that the lunch was not appealing, it was good. I think it was the sense of travel and excitement. I chose Mondo Italiano for dinner. I had their lasagna and was surprised by the complex flavor.
Day Three Seeing the Area
I had seen much of the surrounding area by train, but I wanted to see more of the old west up close and in person today.
The Taos Pueblo is the only site of its kind. Continuously inhabited for over 1,000 years, it has a rich history to share and the culture of an amazing people. Open from 8 AM-4 PM most days, you can gain access for only $16 a person. There are also guided tour options available. The guided tours are from locals and are a very informative 20–30-minute tours. The more active your group is with questions, the more engaging an experience it will be.
Buildings here on site go back to 1000 and 1450 A. D and are still standing today. Kind of made me rethink the possibility of using adobe as a construction method and material.
A neat thing to do (that also supports the community) is to visit the shops of local artists here. I was able to have some amazing conversations with a few local artists and purchased some great items to pack carefully and send back home. No airline trip for these art finds.
Next, I wanted to visit the Mountain Ski Towns. I started with Taos Ski Valley even with the elevation there was not yet snow on the mountain this year in September. But the area looked like it would be very nice for skiing.
The area is at a very high altitude.
Town of Taos – 6,967 feet
Taos Ski Valley (base) – 9,207 feet
Wheeler Peak (highest point in New Mexico) – 13,161 feet
If you have not traveled at this elevation before, get ready for body awareness and some noticeable changes. First, the shortness of breath over 7,000 feet in town is something you will feel. Even those in shape will soon notice that their energy drops, especially when in the higher ski valley area. Riding a ski gondola up to the ski locations may feel odd at first because of the pressure.
Much of this area is for serious hikers only. In large part due to the altitude and landscape. My days of serious hiking never existed, but even if they did, they are surely gone now. But I have heard amazing things about the test of the hike to Wheeler Peak Summit Trail #67. While only 2.2 miles long, it goes up several thousand feet from a start above 10,000 feet in elevation.
Trail Beginning: 10,200 feet
Trail Ending: 13,161 feet
Length: 2.2 miles (4.1 miles one way from Williams Lake Trailhead)
Difficulty: Intermediate to Expert
Elevation Gain: 2,961 feet
That elevation rise of over 3,000 feet starting at over 10K is enough to challenge anyone. I have been to the top of the ski area in Tahoe which is above 10,000 feet and you feel limited oxygen, just like you do in the ski area here. I can not imagine the effort you need to cover over 4 miles round trip hiking at that altitude. But for hikers that are ready, the views must be amazing.
For me, the area was beautiful to see and the mountain views were worth the trip even in the early fall in late September. If you are here in Ski season, know that skiers have access to 1,294 acres of skiable terrain. You can enjoy skiing for just about any ski level in the area. So, if you are traveling with the family, you can find the right area for each ski level.
The area boasts 110 trails and 15 lifts, so that is an impressive diversity to choose from. Almost half of those 110 runs are for beginners or intermediate, which means and impress 55 runs are rated for experts. The area also boasts great ski instructors and offers child and adult lessons. They also have some tubing available for those who want the fun without the athletic challenge or learning curve.
You too can see and experience all this amazing area has to offer yourself. Just book your stay through TZort.