words & photos: Larry Brickner
Editor’s note: This article originally ran in the q1_2020 issue of quattro Magazine. If you would like to subscribe to quattro Magazine, join Audi Club here.
This year’s 900+ mile, six-day TT West drive derived its name from the fact that half of the trip was in New Mexico, “The Land of Enchantment” and that one of the daily drives followed “The Enchanted Circle” scenic route north of Taos, New Mexico. While the word “enchantment” conjures a mellow and easy-going environment, nothing could be further from the truth for TT West. Most days were spent attacking roads snaking through the Southern Rockies with altitudes reaching 7800 and 11000 feet.
TT West had participants from all generations of the TT’s now 20-year production run, from a 2000 coupe to two 2018 TT RS models. Horsepower ranged from 180 to 400. Drivers came from as far as California in the west to Kansas and Texas towards the east.
The event began in Colorado Springs with a short easy drive through the nearby Garden of the Gods Park. Afterwards, everyone met at a local brew pub.
Monday took the group to the old mining town of Cripple Creek, CO. Sitting at 9494 feet, it was the site of the last great Colorado gold rush in 1890. Next came another former mining town, Crested Butte. Sitting in the way were roads snaking up and down 11,312’ Monarch Pass. Crested Butte was originally a coal mining town and supply center for nearby silver boom towns now long gone. Unlike Cripple Creek, Crested Butte successfully turned to skiing as its savior in the 1960s.
Lodging for TT West tends to be planned near the various “old town” areas and within walking distance of unique food and shopping offerings in these historic towns. This included old classic hotels like the Victorian era Strater in Durango, and the Casa Benavides Inn in Taos.
Tuesday began with a drive to a vista on the Grand Canyon of the Gunnison. From there the group drove to Ridgway for lunch and a visit to John Billings’ Artworks Studio, famous for producing the Grammy award sculpture and the NCAA basketball Wooden Award, among others. Next came a stop at Cascade Falls State Park in Ouray before attacking the Million Dollar Highway to Durango.
While some think the Highway was named for the value of the ore that traveled out of Durango, it was actually the cost of the road in 1921. A “feature” of the road is that it does not have guard rails along the hairpin turns to obstruct your view of the scenery down below.
Wednesday began with a visit to the Aztec Ruins National Monument. These 900 year old ruins were built by the ancient Anasazi people, not the Aztecs as originally thought. It holds the largest restored ceremonial chamber in North America.
Next came Taos, New Mexico, following the Tracks Across the Border Scenic Byway for some of the route. Sightseeing for the day ended with a stop at the Rio Grande Gorge before finishing in Taos.
Thursday took the group to Enchanted Circle, with a stop to view the sky blue lake at Eagles Nest State Park. Next, the group explored the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument with its rugged vistas of the Rio Grande Gorge.
The final day began with a drive along the High Road to Taos Scenic Byway on the way to the legendary shrine El Santuario de Chimayo. Known as the Lourdes of America, the El Santuario is believed to be built on sacred earth with miraculous healing powers.
Next came Los Alamos, the once Top Secret city that designed the first atom bomb. The day finished with a visit to the ruins at Bandelier National Monument where evidence of human habitation goes back 11,000 years. The excursion concluded in historic old town Santa Fe for a raucous farewell group gathering. For information on the date and location of next year’s TT West, visit our web site at www.tt-west.org or follow on Facebook. TT West is limited to 20 TTs and sells out fast.