A Few New Mexico Gems

Continuing on our road trip, we pointed our vehicle towards Taos, a long-time artist community in northern New Mexico, bordered by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. This city of roughly 6,000 is home to a world-class ski resort, the Rio Grande Gorge, and one of the most photographed and iconic churches, San Francisco de Asis.

San Francisco de Asis Mission Church, built between 1772 and 1816
Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

Although we would have enjoyed exploring the area in more detail, we had a time crunch to get to Denver to visit family, so spent only a night in this lovely city, wanting to visit Taos Pueblo on our way out of town. We had visited individually in the past and were interested in exploring it again.

We arrived at Taos Pueblo, just north of the city of Taos, at the opening hour, opting to take a short tour by a local member of the Taos tribe, Juan.

Taos Pueblo is one of the oldest continuously inhabited pueblos in the U.S., for over 1,000 years. And although the pueblo is much quieter than in years past, 15 hearty souls still reside here, not allowed running water, electricity, or indoor plumbing, by rule of the Taos Tribal Council. Juan is not one of the 15, opting instead to raise his family outside of these walls, but still strives to keep many of the old customs alive, including teaching the language to his children. He shared that roughly 85% of the Taos Puebloans still speak in their native tongue. They have been said to be one of the most private of the Northern Pueblo tribes, not speaking of their religious customs outside the membership. Their language has never been written, so much of their culture remains a mystery to the rest of the world.

The most prominent architectural feature within the pueblo. Built between 1000 – 1450 AD, it is said to be the most photographed and painted building in all of North America.

Many archeologists believe the migration of the Taos Indians to the Rio Grande River originated from the Four Corner area (Utah, Arizona, California, and New Mexico).

This particular pueblo was a major trading hub at one time, but although many of the tribes were friendly, there were those who attempted to raid them. A lookout was stationed up on the mountain behind the pueblo, and when a dust cloud was seen on the horizon, a smoke signal was sent up, the sign that someone was approaching. The fort would be secured, making it almost impenetrable.

The pueblo buildings had very few doors or windows. Access to the rooms was by square holes built into the roof, reached by climbing down long ladders. These wooden ladders were quickly pulled up when the pueblo felt at risk of attack.

Taos Pueblo is the only North American community designated as both a UNESCO and National Historic Landmark, still used today for sacred ceremonies.

Arroyo Seco was our lunch stop before continuing our journey to Denver. This village of less than 2,000, founded in 1806, includes historians, politicians, hippies, artists, and several interesting shops.

It proudly boasts of one of the top 25 best ice cream parlors in the world, the Taos Cow. All natural and rGBH free, it was some of the best ice cream we’ve had. Two big ‘thumbs up’ for the Cafe Olé, coffee ice cream with cinnamon and chocolate chunks…yum!

Next Up: Hitch a ride on my Earthship

34 thoughts on “A Few New Mexico Gems

  • We love this, but haven’t been to the Pueblo. Have to do that. Thinking of renting an earthship for our 50th anniversary

  • I love New Mexico, for the preservation of their history. I love the pictures you furnished! I hope to get over there to explore more. Thank you, for sharing!

    • My pleasure Joan! We are finding that this road trip isn’t leaving us with as much time to explore as we had thought, but we are getting to see lots of family and friends.

  • Taos Pueblo sounds fascinating Lu Ann. I love that people are still living there, though it must be like camping out for life. And I think I’d have loved Taos Cow as much as you did 🙂

    • It was heartwarming to hear that the Taos Pueblo language continues to be taught to the children. I know there are several native tribes that are trying to resurrect their native tongue before it is lost forever.

  • Taos Pueblo sounds very interesting, LuAnn. The adobe walls remind me of those in San Pedro de Atacama. Taos Cow ice cream sounds delicious. Thanks for sharing your road trip story and photos.

  • I first visited Taos about 25 years ago and have returned many times. The history, the culture, and the beauty draw me back again and again. Your photos are gorgeous! I’m glad you made time for a tour of the pueblo. And you discovered Arroyo Secco! We don’t know too many people who have been there. That whole area is one of my favorite parts of the country. Sounds like you’re having a wonderful adventure! Glad you’re sharing it with us.

    • We are having a lovely time on our road trip. Wish we had more time to explore each place. We have built our travel calendar around the schedules of family and friends. The best part of this journey is that we are able to see friends we haven’t seen in many years. Are you back in Ashland yet?

  • How neat! Now that we’re living in Denver, Pat has realized he knows nothing about New Mexico (admittedly, I don’t know all that much) so he is really excited to explore the state. Will be following along all of your New Mexico posts for inspiration and ideas 🙂

    • I wish we had more time to explore New Mexico. We love Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Madrid. Hope to revisit those places later this year.

  • Your photos of the Taos Pueblo are spectacular! Taking the tour makes all the difference in ones appreciation. Those are 15 hardy individuals to still be living there. We need to spend a little more time exploring around NM. We stopped for an afternoon in Taos on a motorcycle trip but that was it. Hope you are enjoying Denver and family time.

    • Thanks Pam. We are enjoying family time. We too would love to explore New Mexico more fully. This trip is just whetting our appetite for a return visit.

  • I really enjoyed reading about Taos Pueblo. It is wonderful that so many still speak the native language.
    Good grief….I LOVE ice cream. I am afraid I would gain a few pounds if I made that stop. 🙂

  • Taking a tour is always the best way to get insights, understanding, and appreciation of the lives of ancient people. What an interesting place. We have driven to Taos and I remembered that gorge bridge, but that was so long ago. We have not explored this part of NM in RV so your previews will give us ideas for a future route.

  • I love all the architecture. It has such aesthetic appeal to me. Ladders into the roof to get in and out! Imagine how many times in modern day one would have to go back in and out, up and down.

    The ice cream sounds divine.


  • Taos look like a wonderful place to explore on a road trip. so much to see in your grand country. I don’t think I will take up the living requirements though. Happy and safe trails ahead.

  • Luann, as always your photos are beautiful and really capture the place. We traveled this area years ago and want to return but haven’t made it yet. Our trip to the Maya area in Mexico got me to thinking about the native North and South Americans. All these cultures developed in isolation without any outside influences, and it’s so interesting to see the differences in religions, dwellings, and daily life. It’s heartening to see these unique cultures are finally being recognized and appreciated. ~ James

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