TAOS


This post focuses on Taos, New Mexico and the surrounding area. If you would like to view a quick summary of my travel and photography recommendations, please scroll down to the end of this post.

Travel & Photography Guide for Taos, New Mexico, USA

I usually stay in one of the rooms in Helen’s House at the Taos Inn. Helen’s House is a small, quiet building surrounded by courtyards. Its rooms have wood beam ceilings and adobe fireplaces. The Taos Inn is in the center of Taos within walking distance of many shops and restaurants, including the Taos Plaza. For a more luxurious stay near the center of Taos, I recommend El Monte Sagrado or Palacio de Marquesa. If you would like to camp, there are campgrounds in the nearby Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.

Left: Courtyard between Helen’s House and Sandoval House at the Taos Inn Right: Light by Taos Tin Works outside my room at the Taos Inn

One of my favorite things about the Taos Inn is that there is live music every night at its Adobe Bar. I like to sit up on the balcony or next to the adobe fireplace while listening to the music. It’s a nice way to end the day. Two other places with live music are Taos Mesa Brewing and KTAOS Solar CenterTaos Mesa Brewing is a microbrewery located out on the mesa next to Taos. Its unique architecture and artwork, musical guests, and mesmerizing view of the mesa and mountains from the patio make it a great spot to visit. You can also buy clay pint glasses made for the brewery by a local artist. KTAOS Solar Center is home to a solar-powered radio station, music venue, restaurant, and bar. The view of the mountains fills the windows. If you’re there on a Monday night, you can attend the taping of the radio show “Off the Cuff Live!” for free.

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Live music at the Adobe Bar in the Taos Inn

Taos Mesa Brewing

Left: KTAOS Solar Center Right: Taping of “Off the Cuff Live!” at KTAOS Solar Center

Taos has many wonderful restaurants. My favorite spot for breakfast is Gutiz. It has the best french toast I have ever had. The Taoseno (beans, tomatoes, potatoes, rice, cheese, scrambled eggs, and red & green chile in a terra-cotta bowl) is also delicious. I always make sure to get some lunch and a slice of frozen avocado lime pie at Orlando’s New Mexican Cafe. My favorite spots for dinner are The Love Apple and El MezeThe Love Apple has a warm and cozy atmosphere. It specializes in locally-sourced food. My favorite meal there was fresh-caught trout with lime cooked in a corn husk and peach cobbler for dessert. Remember that this restaurant does not accept credit cards. El Meze specializes in what it calls regionally-inspired, rustic comfort food. My favorite meal there was bison tamales in green chile and mini cardamom doughnuts for dessert. The view from the restaurant is amazing. I recommend requesting a table with an unobstructed view of the mountains.

Left: The Love Apple Right: Frozen avocado lime pie at Orlando’s New Mexican Cafe

There are great hiking opportunities in the surrounding area. My favorite hiking trails are Big Arsenic Trail in the Wild Rivers area in Rio Grande del Norte National Monument and Williams Lake Trail in Carson National Forest. I recommend hiking these trails in the morning to avoid afternoon thunderstorms. Always bring rain gear and layers just in case. Big Arsenic Trail is 1 mile one way and has an elevation change of 680 feet. The views of the gorge and the Rio Grande are beautiful. The trail ends next to the Rio Grande. Nearby, there are cold-water springs and petroglyphs. You can ask at the visitor center about how to find the petroglyphs. There are also picnic shelters along the rim of the gorge if you would like to have lunch with a view. Williams Lake Trail is 2 miles one way and has an elevation change of 900 feet. In the winter, you can snowshoe along the trail. The trailhead is in Taos Ski Valley. Hike along streams and through pine tree forests on your way to Williams Lake. The lake is at 11,040 feet and is surrounded by mountain peaks. You can see the highest point in New Mexico, Wheeler Peak, near the end of the trail. You might also see some marmots living among the rocks next to the lake. There’s a Bavarian restaurant near the trailhead if you feel like a post-hike meal or beer. Another option for outdoor adventures is to hike with llamas. Day hikes and longer treks are available.

Left: Hiking into the Rio Grande Gorge along Big Arsenic Trail in Rio Grande del Norte National Monument Right: Petroglyphs on a boulder near the end of Big Arsenic Trail in Rio Grande del Norte National Monument

Left: Williams Lake at the end of Williams Lake Trail in Carson National Forest Right: View of Wheeler Peak near the end of Williams Lake Trail in Carson National Forest

Taos has many other activities and cultural experiences to offer. The Taos Pueblo has been home to its Native American community for over 1,000 years and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tours are available every day. You can also attend ceremonies on certain dates. If you visit Taos in the winter, Taos Ski Valley is the best place to ski and snowboard in New Mexico. The unique architecture of San Francisco de Asis Mission Church in Ranchos de Taos has been photographed by Ansel Adams and painted by Georgia O’Keeffe. It’s neat to see a building featured in many works of art and to be able to photograph (or draw or paint) it yourself. The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge is another famous structure. There are walking paths on either side of the bridge that offer spectacular and dizzying views of the Rio Grande Gorge. You can also photograph the bridge from hiking trails in the rest area next to the bridge. While you’re out on the mesa to see the bridge, I recommend checking out the innovative and sustainable homes called Earthships. Earthships are passive solar homes made from natural and upcycled materials and are intended to be off the grid. You can view or tour these homes at the Earthship Visitor Center. My favorite museum in Taos is the Millicent Rogers Museum. It showcases the “rich and diverse heritage of the American Southwest.” My favorite artwork at this museum is the gorgeous pottery made by Maria Martinez, the famous San Ildefonso Pueblo potter. If you have time and would like to learn about her home or buy pottery, the San Ildefonso Pueblo is a little over an hour from Taos.

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Unique architecture of San Francisco de Asis Mission Church

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Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

Earthships at the Earthship Visitor Center

Beautiful artwork at the Millicent Rogers Museum

My favorite shops are Smoke SignalsTaos Drums, and Taos Tin WorksSmoke Signals sells peace pipes and other items made by the owner and other local artists. Taos Drums has a huge selection of drums made from wood and rawhide. Taos Tin Works sells lights, candle holders, and other items made by punching holes in tin or copper.


SUMMARY

LODGING
RESTAURANTS & BARS
ACTIVITIES
MUSEUMS
SHOPS
MAPS

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84 thoughts on “TAOS

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  1. New Mexico offers travel experiences found no where else in the world ! Mother Nature has tucked away unexpected treasures, including undulating fields of white-sand dunes and enormous limestone caves set unassumingly underfoot. There’s something about the unusual landscapes of New Mexico that makes travelers gaze outward and upward 🙂

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  2. Taos looks simply incredible. I would love to go there to hike and try all of those mouth-watering dishes. I had never heard of avocado lime pie before, but it looks delicious and I am super intrigued!

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  3. Seriously this is the cutest little town!! I was just in New Mexico on a road trip and had no idea about this place!! New Mexico really encompasses the wild west vibe; I love the desert decor and Native American trinkets. Small towns like Taos is what makes America so amazing!!

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  4. I am hearing the first time about this place. But your description is making it so apparent. It seems a very interesting place. Particularly Rio Grande Gorge hiking trails looks very interesting and appealing.

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  5. I had never heard of this place before, but I got to say it looks really nice overall ! Especially the bridge !
    Also part of me can’t help but drool over that frozen avocado lime pie it looks delicious 😀

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  6. Wow – a plethora of information and great recommendations! The hiking trails look incredible, and the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge is stunning. I’d love to try the french toast at Gutiz one day!

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  7. I love how bright your photos are! This is a really great description of the area – going to have to save this for another time 🙂

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  8. This is such a detailed post! Thank you!! Taos seems like an amazing place to eat, drink, sightsee, hike… The Carson National Forest looks so beautiful. I will keep this guide in mind if I ever make it to Taos 🙂

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    1. Thank you! Yeah, you wouldn’t expect to find a UNESCO World Heritage Site there. I think Taos is mostly just known for the Taos Ski Valley, but there’s so much more!

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  9. This is a really comprehensive post for Taos (which totally sounds like somewhere in Asia btw) and I especially like the way you break down the bars into what they’re ‘known’ for (live music, etc) because it’s super useful!

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  10. We love Taos! We were there last January for skiing. We didn’t get to look too much at all of the art and everything it has to offer. Great photos and recommendations. 🙂

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  11. I love NM! My biggest regret is that when we went there for the first time in 2012 (actually on July 4 weekend), we did not end up going to Taos (only ABQ and Santa Fe), but your post showcases so many reasons to revisit.

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  12. I absolutely love your photos! Taos looks really beautiful and not what I expected at all. I’d love to go hiking and I’ll visit when I go to NM. 🙂

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  13. *adds visiting Taos to bucketlist*. This place honestly looks sooo amazing and wow I love your photography! Avocado lime pie is an interesting combination as well 😛

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    1. Thank you! Yeah, it has just about everything I could ever want in one place. The pie is so good! I get it every time I go down there. It’s been a while though. So, I’m considering trying to recreate it at home…we’ll see how it goes!

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  14. Wow loved the visuals! I have coworkers who go to Taos, like, all the time! I can see why they love it there so much – it’s def a laidback city with an eclectic vibe!

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  15. Love hiking! I’m definitely a fan of morning hikes, so that’s an easy tip for me to take! Are there really that many thunderstorms there, or just during a certain season?

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    1. The afternoon thunderstorm warning is mostly for the Williams Lake Trail, which is up in the mountains. During the summer, afternoon thunderstorms are very common in the Rocky Mountains. I’m not quite sure how often it happens in the Rio Grande Gorge, but it’s less likely in the morning.

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  16. This looks so beautiful — I’m dying to go to New Mexico! Are all these activities pretty close together so you could cover it pretty well in a weekend?

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    1. I usually only have a couple days when I visit. You can see and do a lot in that time. The brewery, bridge, and earthships are all out on the mesa (which you could do in a couple hours). KTAOS Solar Center and the Millicent Rogers Museum are in between the mesa and town (great places to visit on the way out or on the way back). Many of the bars, restaurants, and shops are within walking distance of the Taos Inn (plus you don’t have to go anywhere for the live music there each night). For a weekend, you’d probably only be able to fit in one of the hikes, unless you woke up really early each day.

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