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Taos is New Mexico True
Taos, NM
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A mushroom in the forest

Monsoon season means many things in Taos. Spectacular thunderstorms, a respite from the summer heat, and most deliciously, mushrooms. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors―some are delectable and some are deadly.

From the time the rains arrive in summer until the first hard freeze, the time is right to go mushroom foraging in Taos.

Where (and How) to Look for Mushrooms

Mushrooms abound in wooded spots at higher elevations, and the areas around Taos Ski Valley are fertile hunting grounds for fungi. But be forewarned, mushroom foraging in Taos is highly competitive. The earlier you’re out after the rain, the more likely you’ll harvest what’s popped up overnight. 

Mushroom hunters are often extremely secretive about their most promising locations, but if you decide to try your luck and are unfamiliar with edible mushrooms in the wild, definitely try to go with someone who has local experience. It’s also a good idea to set out with a trusty guide book in hand, such as All That the Rain Promises and More: a Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms by David Arora.

When mushroom foraging in Taos, stay under the trees, scanning the dampest spots, woody undergrowth, patches of moss, and along the edges of streams. Once you spot one patch, you’ll start seeing them everywhere, from a Boletus edulis (a.k.a. porcini) peeping up from the forest floor to a clump of blue chanterelles clinging to a sloping hillside.

The part of the mushroom you see is the fruiting body of the fungus, which produces the spores; the fungus itself resembles tiny threads underground. Certain types have a special interrelationship with particular plants or trees and are always found next to them.

When you’re mushroom foraging in Taos, don’t put mushrooms you collect in plastic bags; they will sweat. Use paper or cloth and sort the different varieties you’ve picked in different bags. You may want to bring a sharp pocket knife along as well as plenty of water to drink. And don’t forget sunscreen and a wide brimmed hat: the higher you climb, the stronger the rays of the sun. Also, be aware that mushroom hunting is not permitted in New Mexico state parks.

Mushrooms You’re Likely to See

There are hundreds of varieties of mushrooms in New Mexico, including the highly toxic fly agaric or Amanita muscaria, which looks like something straight out of a Disney movie! Magic mushrooms they might indeed be, but you’d be well advised to let them be. In general, while you’re mushroom foraging in Taos, if you don’t like the smell of a mushroom, get rid of it, even if someone tells you it’s edible.

But for the gourmands among you, with the real edible bounty―from morels to oyster mushrooms, boletes, and chanterelles―you will be in mushroom heaven! Few realize that Taos is one of the best places to find edible boletes in the United States.

Besides returning from your hike with the ingredients for a divine dinner, mushroom foraging in Taos affords you a great opportunity to spend time in a cool, quiet place, deep in nature with the sweet sound of running water and birdsong in your ears. Truly a balm for the soul. 

After a long morning hiking in the mountains, lunching at one of Taos Ski Valley’s fabulous restaurants will make your day trip seem like a mini-vacation!

And if you find yourself seriously bitten by the fungi foraging bug, you might want to join a club, such as the New Mexico Mycological Society. Happy hunting!