We'd heard of the excellent four-wheeling opportunities up to the high mountain lakes above Red River, so we rented a Jeep from New Mexico Adventure Company and enlisted the services of a guide named Montana. This adventure company's Jeeps are equipped to take the rugged abuse dished out by these boulder-strewn, primitive 4WD trails. If you want to tackle such trails on your own, make sure your truck or SUV is up to the task.

For a great breakfast, we recommend Old Tymer's Cafe in downtown Red River. A good place to eat dinner is at Moreno Valley Cowboy Evening located on Highway 38. You'll enjoy a Western-style chuck-wagon steak feast and the talents of a trio called the Highway 38 Hound Dogs. They write, record, and perform music that's a mix of Michael Martin Murphy, the Sons of the Pioneers, Merle Haggard, and Drive-By Truckers.

No trip to Northern New Mexico is complete without a visit to the village of Angel Fire, where the ski lifts run even during the summer. Guests can ride mountain bikes to the top and then down, before or after a great lunch at the outdoor grill that sits at 10,000-plus-feet above sea level. In the area is a thriving artists' community that showcases its work at a gallery called Angel Fire Art Space.

Minutes west of Angel Fire is Enchanted Circle Pottery and the studio, home, and gallery of potters Kevin and JoAnne DeKeuster, who have taken this art form in a unique direction. You must see their walk-in, wood-fired, high-tech kiln, where several times a year they fire hundreds of pieces of clay art simultaneously, using firewood they've split themselves.

Along the High Road to Taos, near the hamlet of Chimayo, stop at the workplaces of weavers like Centinela Traditional Arts, which not only spins and dyes its own wool, but weaves elegant creations. You can go inside and watch the weavers work on giant looms, and browse through the stack of rugs and tapestries that cover the floors and line the walls. Nearby is El Santuario de Chimayo, where for the last 200 years, pilgrims with afflictions have come and, after touching the holy earth inside the sanctuary, have claimed to be cured.