Road Trip: Taos, NM
There are road trips and then there are journeys, such as the journey of self-transformation that you can unearth off the beaten path in Taos, New Mexico. And if you don’t find transformation, at least you’ll find sunshine – Taos has at least 335 days of it each year.
By Erica Asmus-Otero
Feeling Blue? Find Inspiration Here
Perhaps it’s the unique cultural and environmental landscapes that attract an eclectic mix of people – creatives, bohemians, conservationists, and adventurers – to this small town of 7,000. Women such as artist Mabel Dodge Luhan, socialite Millicent Rogers, and even Julia Roberts, have all been drawn to the same town, possibly for the same reasons.
This year, Taos’s Remarkable Women of Taos theme celebrates the historic and contemporary women of Taos and features related workshops, exhibitions, and tours. Throughout the summer, 5-day, 4-night all inclusive, guided tours will trace the steps of some of the most influential women in Taos’ history. Prices start at $1,810 per person for a 10-person group.
Taos’ remarkable women have been memorialized in many museums and galleries, including the Harwood Museum of Art. Exhibitions at the Harwood in 2012 include “Agnes Martin: Before the Grid” (Feb. 25-June 17); and Beatrice Mandelman: Centennial (July 7-Oct.14). For just $25 per person, the Museum Association of Taos offers a pass valid year-round to see five historic Taos museums.
Lift Your Spirits
Experience how the first Americans lived at Taos Pueblo, the only living Native American pueblo designated both a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a National Historic Landmark. Watch the small plumes of smoke rise from the kivas of the same adobe buildings that have been continuously inhabited for over 1,000 years. The snow-capped Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) mountains add to the serene, spiritual ambience of the Pueblo. Experience a sacred dance or event such as the 25th annual Taos Pueblo Pow Wow (July 9-11). Cameras are not allowed during sacred ceremonies. Entrance and camera fees apply.
Spanish missionaries established the San Francisco de Asis Church more than 300 years ago, and it is still in use today. Both Georgia O’Keeffe and photographer Ansel Adams embraced the church in their paintings and photographs. The church is re-mudded annually by members of the community and contains a mystery painting, “Shadow of the Cross.”
Become An Adrenaline Junkie
There’s nothing that will make you feel more alive than white water rafting the “Taos Box.” Pass under the Gorge Bridge along the way – the third highest bridge in the U.S. A half-day rafting trip with Los Rios River Runners starts at $54 for adults; full day trips and overnight camping excursions are also available. Additional rafting companies can be found here.
Dry off and pack up for one of Trip Advisor’s “Top 10 Best Tours in the U.S.” on a llama trek with Wild Earth Llama Adventures. These gentle creatures are all rescues, thanks to the efforts of owner Stuart Wilde, who will share his knowledge of the area’s ecology, edible/medical plants and survival skills in the wilderness. Tours start at $99 per person. Overnight camping and full day trips are also available.
Taos’ landscape is even more awe-inspiring from a birds-eye perspective, especially aboard a colorful hot air balloon. Skim the Rio Grande and soar above the trees during an uplifting ride. An official flight certificate and champagne toast complement the experience. Prices start at $250 p/p with Pueblo Balloon Company.
Love The Quirky And Unconventional?
Taos has six permanent labyrinths, intended to help you find inner peace, guidance about important decisions, and regain focus through meditation. Unlike a maze, you can never get lost in a labyrinth. Find yourself at the following labyrinths: Adobe and Pines Inn B&B, Touchstone Inn, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, First Presbyterian Church, San Geronimo Lodge, Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs, and Ghost Ranch in Abiqui, NM.
Taos’ natural beauty stimulates a desire to become a steward of the earth, so it’s not surprising that the Town is also the world headquarters of the sustainable World Earthship community. Earthships are self-sustainable solar homes made of recycled materials, and are growing in popularity around the world. Self guided tours of these funky, yet practical structures are available through the Earthship Biotecture World Headquarters.
Annual Festivals And Events
Inspiration comes in many forms, which is why so many are drawn to the annual 3-day Taos Solar Music Festival in late June at Kit Carson Park. Dozens of mixed genre bands play in a festive atmosphere, while exhibitors share an important message on sustainable energy and conservation.
Every Thursday night from May through Sept., hear free music from a variety of up and coming bands at Taos Plaza with Taos Plaza Live.
Foodie Favorites: Where To Eat
In Taos, it’s not unusual to have “Christmas” in July; that is, when ordering your Huevos Rancheros at a number of Taos eateries. “Christmas” is a local term for the combination of New Mexican-grown red and green chile that is completely addictive. After all, “red or green?” is the official State question.
The well-loved Grahams Grille restaurant is a local favorite, featuring tasty numbers such as the Elk Sliders with green chile or Taos Tamale Pie, and an award winning wine list. Prices are reasonable and atmosphere is casual.
Converted from an adobe church into a restaurant, the upscale Love Apple has only 13 intimate tables. Love Apple offers only organic, locally-grown, homemade fare whose menu changes seasonally. Order the delicious Baked Tamale and Oaxacan Style Mole. Entree prices start at $14.
Ahhh Moments: Where To Stay
The 44-room Historic Taos Inn is not only on the National Registry of Historic Places, but is at the heart of Taos’ historic district. Since 1936, famous people such as Greta Garbo and D.H. Lawrence rested their heads here, adding to the hotel’s mystique. Award winning Doc Martin’s restaurant and the Adobe Bar offer tasty food and margaritas. Room prices start as low as $75 per night.
The AAA four-diamond El Monte Sagrado Resort and Spa is not only a top notch resort in Taos but is environmentally responsible. Rooms/casitas/suites are themed and one-of-a-kind. In addition to an art gallery, the resort has a full-service spa, restaurant and lounge. Prices start at $149, pending season.
In Taos, what you’ll take home doesn’t require more space in your suitcase; it only requires room in the soul for personal growth that often results from a visit there.