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Find the perfect Christmas gift on the High Road to Taos

Chimayo Trading Del Norte is the final stop on your High Road shopping spree. Photo by Gabriella Marks

This holiday season, take a scenic drive while shopping along The High Road to Taos Scenic Byway from Santa Fe to Taos. On your way to local businesses, you’ll enjoy views of desert badlands, red-rock hoodoos, pine-filled mountain forests, historic adobe churches, and quaint villages—all of which serve as inspiration for the fine art found in galleries on this list.

Not sure where to begin? Let this be your gift-giving route for presents symbolic of the holidays in New Mexico.    

What to know before you go:

Scenery along the High Road to Taos Scenic Byway.

The High Road to Taos Scenic Byway is a beautiful route in northern New Mexico. Photo by Gabriella Marks 

This roundup of High Road shops is organized from South (Santa Fe) to North (Taos). To spotlight a pair of must-stop shops, we’ve included 2 stretches that aren’t part of the Scenic Byway (Bishops Lodge Road between Santa Fe and Tesuque; and U.S. 84/285 from Tesuque to Pojoaque).

Traveling this route, the distance between Santa Fe and Taos is about 78 miles. With stops, your expedition will take the better part of a day. Returning in either direction, via SR 68 and U.S. 84/285 (a.k.a. The Low Road), is a roughly 90-minute drive.        

You may also like: Adventure awaits on these New Mexico road trips

1. Tesuque Glassworks

Glass sculptures displayed in the window at Tesuque Glassworks.

Tesuque Glassworks is New Mexico's oldest blown-glass studio. Photo by Gabriella Marks 

Departing downtown Santa Fe on Bishops Lodge Road (SR 590), panoramic views of rolling hills dotted with cottonwoods and junipers fill your windshield. Ahead, stop at the oldest blown-glass studio in the state (est. 1975). Tesuque Glassworks fires and sculpts glass into every form imaginable, from drinkware (starting at $32) to exquisite art pieces that fetch hundreds of dollars. Free glassblowing demos are offered daily.

Glass cowboy hat ornaments.

Add a southwest touch to your Christmas tree with Tesuque Glasswork's glass-blown cowboy hat ornaments. Photo by Gabriella Marks 

For the blown-glass buff: For the holidays, longtime resident glass artist David J. Shanfeld creates colorful cowboy hat–shaped Christmas tree ornaments that start at $35.     

2. Nambé

Metal alloy reindeer and Christmas tree decorations.

Nambé was founded in New Mexico over 70 years ago and is known for its metal alloy and Acacia wood kitchenware. Photo by Gabriella Marks 

Travel along U.S. 84/285 to reach Pojoaque and the roadside attraction Nambé. Founded in Northern New Mexico over 70 years ago, this famed purveyor sells sleek, metal alloy and Acacia wood kitchenware, tableware, barware, and home decor. With locations in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Taos, and Mesilla, these stylish homeware designs are uniquely New Mexican.

For the dinner host with the most: Released in 2023, the Yin Yang Divided Server bowl set ($150) offers the best of Nambé’s material worlds, with the bowls split between its hallmark alloy and Acacia wood. Set together, the bowls form the yin and yang symbol.  

3. Nambe Trading Post

Pottery and other wares for sale at Nambe Trading.

Nambe Trading Post is located near Nambé Pueblo; just look for a Lakota tepee outside. Photo by Gabriella Marks 

Near Nambé Pueblo, a traditional Lakota tepee stands outside this eclectic treasure trove of pottery, jewelry, paintings, beadwork, Katsina dolls, baskets, and Navajo blankets.

Nambe Trading Post’s owner, Cathy Smith, is an Emmy Award–winning costume designer. Find examples of her work in the Museum of Western Film & Costume (adults, $10), also located here. Don’t miss the secondhand and vintage Western wear for the cowpoke in your corral.

For your sweetheart: Store co-owner and Lakota jeweler Jennifer Jesse Smith’s most popular design is the sterling silver “Eclipse Earrings with Rain Drops” ($595). While each of her signature, asymmetrical pairs are crafted so no two are alike, the earrings typically feature a morning star and sunburst for one ear, and a crescent moon with three turquoise “raindrops” for the other.

You may also like: Ways to learn about New Mexico’s Pueblos

4. Chavez Gallery

Crosses and other religious objects at Chaez Gallery.

Artist Patricio Chavez handcrafts the wooden crosses at Chavez Gallery. Photo by Gabriella Marks 

Traditional Spanish Colonial artist Patricio Chavez’s family traces back 5 generations in the Chimayó Valley. In 1996, he opened this cozy art gallery/coffeehouse to sell his handcrafted retablos (altarpieces), wooden crosses, and other Christian art.

The shop also features photography by Chavez’s wife, Shawna, who has a keen compositional eye for native landscapes (starting at $35 for an unframed 8x10).        

For the devoted: Miniature folk-art retablo replicas feature religious iconography ($20).   

You may also like: Chimayó and other places to see farolitos and luminarias

5. Rancho de Chimayó Restaurante

Sign pointing to Rancho de Chimayó Restaurante.

Purchase jars of adovada sauce made with Chimayó Valley chiles at Rancho de Chimayó Restaurante. Photo by Gabriella Marks 

Feast on delicious enchiladas smothered in red and green chile at the High Road’s go-to lunch spot and save room for the gift shop full of local foodstuffs. Jars of smoky Chimayó Valley chile-spiked adovada sauce, piñon coffee, and sopaipilla flour mix make for solid stocking stuffers. Undecided? Opt for a multi-item gift basket.

For the foodie: Go “Christmas style” with jars of red and green chile sauce ($10.60 each).

You may also like: New Mexican sopaipillas recipe

6. Ortega’s Weaving Shop

Pile of pillows.

Handwoven pillows in traditional Rio Grande/Chimayó–style patterns are among the offerings at 6. Ortega’s Weaving Shop. Photo by Gabriella Marks

Chimayó’s legendary textile weaving family has been in business for more than a century. Swathe your loved ones in in signature woven-wool rugs, blankets, purses, dining place mats, coats, and more—all loomed locally in traditional Rio Grande/Chimayó–style patterns.

For the sleepyhead: Treat the loungers in your life to fluffy, handwoven pillows with fringe ($98).

You may also like: A wild and woolly trek down the Rio Grande Gorge with llamas

7. Galería Ortega

Galería Ortega Etchware Pottery Ornament.

The Etchware Pottery Ornament at Galería Ortega is hand-painted with horsehair designs. Photo by Eli Ellison

In an old adobe house next-door to Ortega’s Weaving Shop, the Ortega family opened this store to sell even more New Mexico and Southwest arts and crafts. Browse Native American pottery, jewelry, and paintings at reasonable prices; a thoughtfully curated stock of local-interest books; and a wide selection of quality stocking stuffers.

For the Christmas ornament collector: Give your tree a Southwest touch with an Etchware Pottery Ornament. The traditional ball ornament is hand-painted with Native pottery and horsehair designs ($22).      

8. Eight Million Gods

Exterior of Eight Million Gods.

Eight Million Gods opened its doors on the High Road in 2021. Photo by Gabriella Marks 

A relative newcomer to the High Road shopping lineup, Hayward Simoneaux opened this funky haven of international folk art in Truchas in 2021. The gallery’s curious name is inspired by the Japanese Shinto religion, which believes God is in everything. “So, why not 8 million of them?” Simoneaux says with a laugh.

He’s amassed an eclectic inventory of both local and global works. Check out the tinwork, masks, woodcarvings, Christmas ornaments, and a number of oddities that simply strike the owner’s fancy.

Beaded dog collar.

Eight Million Gods sells dog collars made by Kenya's Maasai tribe. Photo by Gabriella Marks

For your four-legged friend: Make your pooch the stylish envy at the dog park with a colorful, hand-beaded collar made by Kenya’s Maasai tribe. Prices run from $48 to $98, depending on collar size.    

9. Chimayo Trading Del Norte

Wooden sculptures inside Chimayo Trading Del Norte.

Chimayo Trading Del Norte is a fine art gallery located near the San Francisco de Assisi Mission Church. Photo by Gabriella Marks 

The High Road’s north end is marked by the iconic San Francisco de Assisi Mission Church, made famous by Georgia O’ Keeffe’s paintings. Bordering the church plaza, step inside this expansive fine art gallery, packed with paintings of New Mexico, pottery, jewelry, woven works, and more made by big-name artists, both classic and contemporary.

The Village at Placita, N.M. by Walt Gonske

The Village at Placita, N.M., an oil-on-board painting by Walt Gonske, comes in a 14k gold leaf frame. Photo courtesy Chimayo Trading Del Norte

For the high-end art collector: Since moving to Taos in 1971, painter Walt Gonske’s Northern New Mexico landscapes have graced museums, publications, and collectors’ homes. The gallery offers several Gonske paintings, including a recent oil-on-board rendering of The Village at Placita, N.M., priced at $9,000.

Free Indian Country Guide Series maps are available at your local AAA branch.

Eli Ellison is a Santa Fe–based travel writer who, like you, has yet to do his Christmas shopping.

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