Taos is nestled high in the Rockies of northern New Mexico, in a range called the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The town of Taos exists at an altitude of approximately 7000 feet, though different areas of Taos county vary drastically in height. Taos is surrounded on all sides by extreme geological features, making Taos a place naturally isolated from the rest of the world. It is a combination of the geography, isolation, culture, and history that makes Taos such a wonderful and magical place to visit.
During winter months in Taos, low temperatures can average at a frigid 11°F. However, due to the altitude and geography, this makes Taos one of the best and most challenging places in the world for skiing. Just a 30 minute drive north of town brings you to the Taos Ski Valley, one of the premier and most excellent ski destinations in the world. The Ski Valley offers you anything you could hope for in a winter vacation—great food, extreme fun, and activities for everybody. The slopes themselves include every grade from beginning to expert. Services such as ski schools, equipment rentals, and vacation packages are available.
Though skiing only occurs during the winter months when the mountain has plenty of snow, the valley itself is also open to other tourism during the summer. This including camping and hiking trips to different lakes and rivers, climbing, fishing, and sightseeing. The forests of Taos are some of the most environmentally rich and stunning in North America.
The forest and park services are open year-round. The main forest surrounding the Taos area is Carson National Forest. For questions and information about camping and resources, it’s easy to call or visit the forest service. Since the national forest is part of the U.S. forest, you only need one yearly pass to visit and camp in in any participating forest in the United States.
Other popular camping and hiking locations are interspersed among the peaks, trails, and backroads surrounding Taos. One of the most popular trails is the Yerba Buena trail. Along this trail (and many others like it), you will find wild raspberry and strawberry bushes, small bubbling creaks, natural springs, and small plateaus with hidden waterfalls. At the top of this trail you will find Lobo Peak, the 33rd highest peak in New Mexico. Another popular, more challenging hike is the trail that leads to Wheeler Peak, the highest peak in New Mexico at an altitude of 13,167 feet.
If you are uninterested in the thrills of hiking and skiing, Taos has a variety of other diverting and interesting features. The Rio Grande River cuts through the enormous gorge, or canyon, which divides the land around Taos in two. Spanning the distance over the gorge is one of the most famous bridges in the United States, the Gorge Bridge. The view from the bridge is nothing short of stunning and breathtaking, and has led to the inspiration of art and restaurants throughout Taos and abroad. The Rio Grande offers activity in the form of swimming, kayaking, and white-water rafting trips, while the area around the Gorge, particularly the John Dun Bridge, is home to natural hot springs accessible through a short yet rocky hike at the bottom of the Gorge.
Taos is a beautiful and awe-inspiring place, home to many artists, musicians, and writers. Downtown Taos offers a variety of sites in the form of remarkable local architecture, historical buildings, and galleries. The center of Taos, the Taos Plaza, holds many shops where you can find fine dining, hotels, clothing, keepsakes, and entertainment. During the summer, you can listen and dance to live music every week. All around Taos, you can also find a variety of local and Northern New Mexican and foreign cuisine to accommodate any taste or budget.
Perhaps the most significant and important cultural and historical location in Taos is the Taos Pueblo. The adobe-constructed buildings of Taos Pueblo are some of the oldest continually-inhabited adobe buildings in the world, and the majesty of these durable golden-colored edifices will inspire awe in any beholder. Though closed to the public during certain parts of the year for ceremonial and religious purposes, the pueblo opens periodically, allowing tourists and outsiders to witness special occasions, such as the San Geronimo event and certain dances and ceremonies. Rules, regulations, and calendars are available at the Taos Pueblo website.
A place rich in nature, history and culture, Taos is an unforgettable and beautiful place. In both summer and winter, it is a peaceful and tranquil town that offers so very much. Its size makes it grand and tranquil, yet the variety of what the land and culture offers makes it a place to enjoy and experience.