Things To See and Do In Taos, New Mexico
Next To the Mighty Mountains
Where Is Taos?
Taos is located in north central New Mexico between the Sangre de Christo mountains and the Rio Grande as it flows south out of Colorado. The Taos Pueblo Indian settlement is located nearby and has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The history of western culture in the region, commenced in 1615, when the Spanish created a small outpost. In the following years, the immediate area experienced conflict between Spanish settlers and Native population. In 1848 the territory switched over to the U.S., but that did not stop the occasional revolt, for two years later, Hispanic and Indian forces united and killed a U.S. governor.
Today, Taos is a peaceful place known for its Native American residents, art galleries, New Age retreats, Hispanic cuisine and outdoor adventures. Following is a brief overview of some of the activities that visitors may enjoy, when visiting this beautifully situated town of approximately 5,000 people.
Ranchos de Taos Mission
The Spanish brought the Pueblo people adobe architecture. This building style involves creating homemade mud and straw bricks that are used to create standing walls. Wood frame flat roofs are added and then the entire building is coated with an adobe (mud and straw mixture). Often concrete finish is painted to look like adobe but the real thing can be found occasionally through Northern New Mexico. One of the best places to see this natural building material in use is at the Ranchos de Taos Church in the town of Ranchos de Taos, located at the south end of Taos proper. If visitors wish to see more churches like this they may proceed east to Picuris and then travel down the "high road" to Chimayo, where there are several more along the way at Las Trampas and Truchas.
Taos has been a noted art colony since the late 1800s, when a group of painters ventured up from Santa Fe in search of solitude and beauty. The presence of artists and writers has been continuous until the present and is highlighted by D.H. Lawrence, who retreated here in the 1920s to write a novel. All this rich history can be experienced first hand by visiting a series of museums, located in the mountain town. Art lovers might enjoy a stop at the Harwood Museum of Art, the Millicent Rogers Museum, La Hacienda de los Martinez, the Blumenschein Home and the Fechin House. For a specially-priced two day pass, all of these venues can be visited with one ticket.
Outdoor adventures in the area are quite numerous, including such fun activities as hiking, rafting, skiing, camping, fishing, horseback riding, kayaking and ballooning. Nearby is the Carson National Forest, where many of these activities take place. Some of the more popular trips might involve a raft run on the Rio Grande, downhill skiing or snowboarding at Taos Ski Valley or a hike up Wheeler Peak, the highest point in New Mexico. Plenty of outfitters abound in the area to help you enjoy your outdoor excursion safely.
Native American Culture
Two very distinct pueblos can be found within a twenty minute drive of Taos. The Taos Pueblo is located adjacent to the north side of Taos, while a visit to the Picuris pueblo requires a drive to the town of Picuris to the east. Both places provide places to eat, shops, galleries and a occasional dance that is open to the public. It is best to call first to see what activities are current.
The town of Taos caters very well to the seasonal visitor and tourist. Whether you are looking for a gallery, boutique, restaurant, drinking establishment, hotel, coffee shop, bookstore or theater, there is a lot to chose from, especially for such a small town. The multitude of choices testifies to the popularity of Taos as a tourist destination. Despite the relative large number of out-of-town visitors, the choices of things-to-do remains high, for the area has long been a crossroads for three distinct cultures, Hispanic, Anglo and American Indian.