It’s my girlfriend’s birthday weekend, and in an effort to keep Kati enchanted with me, I’m taking her for a drive through the Land of Enchantment. We begin our New Mexico tour in Santa Fe, the oldest capital city in the U.S., browsing the turquoise and silver–filled gift shops around the historic Santa Fe Plaza, then popping into Cafe Pasqual’s for breakfast burritos and huevos rancheros.
As the morning sun begins to warm the mountain air, we slide into our Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 Coupe and head north on U.S. Route 84. We pass through small towns and scrubby high desert for about an hour before dipping down into the Chama Valley. The artist Georgia O’Keeffe is synonymous with New Mexico, and we stop by the O’Keeffe Welcome Center in Abiquiú to take in the current Around the World with O’Keeffe exhibit, which features items she collected on her travels (matchbooks from Japan, brooches from Peru), before we’re escorted up the hill to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Home & Studio. The painter bought a deteriorating hacienda in 1945 and fixed it up, splitting her time between here and a house on the nearby Ghost Ranch for most of the next four decades. We’ve booked the Pita’s Tour, led by Agapita “Pita” Lopez, whose grandfather, mother, and brothers worked for O’Keeffe. Lopez leads us through the house, showing us the artist’s garden, living room, and studio. We linger in the modest bedroom, taking in the view of the valley that inspired paintings such as Winter Cottonwoods East V, 1954 and Winter Road I, 1963.
Our minds are stimulated, but our bodies could use some relaxation, so we’re off to Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa. Opened in 1868, the spa boasts pools that are rich with the healing minerals arsenic, lithia, soda, and iron. We’ve reserved an hour in a private soaking pool, which we hop in and out of as we get used to the heat, and then we do a circuit of the communal pools, feeling our muscles unwind.
I’m a bit parched, so after doubling back to New Mexico State Road 68 we make a quick pit stop at Vivác Winery for a glass of estate-grown petit verdot. The light is beginning to get low, so we keep on up the road, the soaring Sangre de Cristo Mountains on our right, the plummeting Rio Grande Gorge on our left. As night falls, we pass through historic downtown Taos and pull up to The Love Apple, a charming restaurant in a converted 19th-century chapel, where we delight in a caramelized onion and apple quesadilla, pan-seared duck with an asadero and green chile tamal, and polenta Bolognese.
Seeking some solitude, we’ve booked the Taos Skybox, an Airbnb consisting of three prefab units set on the high-desert plain outside of town. We drop our bags inside our cabin, where I find a guitar hanging on the wall, and then slide into the Adirondack chairs on the deck to gaze up at the stars. I strum and sing “Home on the Range”—and that’s just how we feel.
2024 Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 Coupe
One of the few ways it’s possible to make a drive through New Mexico even more enchanting is by doing it in a 2024 Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 Coupe. The 429-horsepower, inline-6 engine sends us rocketing across the flatter stretches of the Taos Plateau, while the AMG Ride Control+ and Airmatic ADS Plus suspension features keep us glued to the road as we snake along the Rio Grande on scenic Highway 68. Our only regret is that the dirt road out to our Airbnb leaves the sleek, restyled exterior looking a tad less shiny than normal.
From $89,800, mbusa.com