In the mountains of Northern New Mexico lies the amazing travel destination of Taos. This is a premier ski resort destination in the Southwestern U.S. but also a wonderful place to hike, go for a scenic drive, browse shops, and experience the culture of the region. So, grab your sense of adventure and thirst for curiosity, because these are the top things to do in Taos.
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Snow Sports at the Taos Resort
Many people think that New Mexico is all sunshine and desert, but the area around Taos is a wonderful place to take a ski vacation. Taos Ski Valley has both cultural and recreational significance and is popular among skiers, snowboarders, and even for tubing on the mountain. In the winter, the Taos area is also a fun place to go snowshoeing, either on your own or with an experienced local guide. In the summer, come to the resort area for rock climbing, golf, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, hot air balloon rides, and mountain biking.
Hike in the Rio Grande Gorge Recreation Area
Within this region is the Wild Rivers Recreation Area, which offers views of the deep Rio Grande Gorge, hiking trails, a campground, and picnic spots. This is a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) space with canyon rim trails, wildlife viewing, and dramatic scenery. Highlights of the region include the 50 miles of the National Wild and Scenic River and the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. Top trails for your outdoor adventure include the Big Arsenic Trail, Guadalupe Mountain Trail, La Junta Trail, and Red River Fault Loop.
Visit Taos Pueblo
Although the Taos Pueblo is a top place to visit in New Mexico, it’s important to understand that this is not a museum or an attraction. This is a home for a Native American community that you can visit within a National Historic Landmark and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some of the buildings here date back to the early 1000s and are filled with the stories of people who lived here in the past and still do today. Optional guided tours are offered throughout the year, and events and festivals take place here too.
Sip Beers at Taos Mesa Brewing
After a day of hiking or sightseeing, head to Taos Mesa Brewing for a pint or flight of local craft beer. This brewery has an awesome outdoor space with views of the mountains and plenty of mountain-fresh air to go with it. The brewery regularly has 12 house beers on tap, and there are two locations you can visit.
Learn About the Earthship Settlement
If you’re interested in living a more eco-friendly and sustainable life, then make a point to visit the Earthship Biotecture World Headquarters and Visitor Center. The general public can stop by the visitor center, which is something of a museum dedicated to sustainably built living quarters. Come here to learn about how to use solar power and recycled water for the benefit of the planet, and consider taking a self-guided or community-guided tour.
Check Out the Downtown Shops
Make sure to spend some time at the Taos Plaza to check out all the fun shops and galleries here. This is a great place to look for souvenirs or to grab some ice cream and sit on a bench to relax while watching people go by. Depending on when you visit, you may be able to hear a live concert in the plaza as you take notice of the diverse mix of architecture in this downtown area.
Admire the Adobe Architecture
Taos is famous for its traditional adobe architecture, which lasts a very long time and is a mixture of sand, straw, clay, and water. Many earthen-based structures still standing here date back to the 17th century. In the Taos area, you’ll notice a blend of Native American pueblo architecture and Spanish colonial architecture.
Walk Across the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge
The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge rises about 650 feet above the Rio Grande River and is a truly stunning piece of architecture. When it was built in the 1960s, it was one of the longest bridges in the country, offering panoramic views of the surrounding mountain landscapes. You can walk across the bridge on a sidewalk that runs parallel to vehicle traffic, but don’t look down if you’re afraid of heights! There’s also a visitor center for the gorge within a half hour outside of Taos.
See the San Francisco de Asis Mission Church
Another place worth visiting in Taos is the San Francisco de Asis Mission Church, which was completed in 1816. This church once served as a center for community gatherings in Taos and embodies the beauty of adobe and Spanish architecture. The thick walls once served to protect people inside from Comanche attacks, but today they help keep the church cool and comfortable on hot, sunny days.
Go for a Scenic Drive
The Taos area is also ideal for scenic drives, which is good to know if you’re not in the mood for a hike. The High Road leads into Taos from New Mexico Highways 503 and 76, passing by the pilgrimage village of Chimayo along the way. Along this drive, you can also visit the communities of Truchas, Cordova, Ojo Sarco, and Las Trampas. Take note of the lovely rugs, pottery, jewelry, and woodcarvings in shops you see while in and around Taos, and consider supporting the local artists who work here. Another great route is the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, which is about 83 miles in length as you leave Taos on New Mexico Highway 522. Detour to the Gorge Bridge, Arroyo Seco, Arroyo Hondo, and on to Taos Ski Valley. Also, the entire drive from Santa Fe to Taos is scenic and offers mountain and canyon views, as well as a few wineries to stop at for a tasting.