Taos is known for being home to the oldest settlement in America; Taos Pueblo.
It is also known for fine art and artists, a deep and rich culture, adobe architecture and those ubiquitous chile peppers.
This region, once part of Mexico, is still flavored with the traditions and heritage from South of the Border. And yesterday, our Governor ordered troops removed from that Border in solidarity with our neighbors who named their territory almost 250 years after Nuevo Mexico was Christened.
Although it has been part of the United States for long enough, it is its diverse history from the Pueblo Indians to the Spaniards that continues to attract visitors from all over the world.
Here are 5 free things to do in Taos, New Mexico (with or without, kids.) Free attractions are great money savers so you can pick up art, jewelry and pottery you fall in love with, guilt free!
Not to mention being able splurge on all the delicious food available. Be careful, the Green Chile is addictive.
1) Walk around Historic Taos Plaza
Taos Plaza is the historic center of the town of Taos. Once a Spanish fortified walled plaza with houses and businesses, it now has a park with shady trees, park benches, and a gazebo surrounded by retail businesses in the old adobe buildings. The Hotel La Fonda de Taos is known for its small collection of D.H. Lawrence’s paintings.There is metered parking within the plaza and shopping includes galleries of contemporary Fine Art and Native American art and jewelry as well as the obvious souvenir shops.
The Plaza dates back to the late 18th century when the Don Fernando de Taos Land Grant was ceded to Spanish settlers from the Taos Pueblo in 1796 by Don Fernando de Chacon, Governor of New Mexico. Taos Plaza and the Taos Pueblo were the terminal points of the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, or King’s Highway, from Mexico City
One can learn so much about a community by visiting old churches. Don’t pass up a visit to this iconic structure, made famous by Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams.
Named after the patron saint of animals, San Francisco de Asis Mission Church is a historic and architecturally significant church on the main plaza of Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico. Built between 1772 and 1816, it is one of the finest extant examples of a Spanish Colonial New Mexico mission church, and remains a magnet for artists and photographers.
3) See the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge
One of America’s highest and most famous bridges, the route 64 crossing of the Rio Grande was completed in 1965. A well proportioned cantilever truss with a curvilinear profile, the bridge received the American Institute of Steel Construction’s award for “Most Beautiful Long Span Steel Bridge” of 1966. In 1997 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Rio Grande is America’s 4th longest river, stretching 1,885 miles from its Headwaters in Colorado, south to the Gulf of Mexico. Located 10 miles west of Taos, the deep gorge of the Rio Grande is the only major rift across an otherwise flat expanse of land between the mountains of the Carson National Forest and the Sangre de Cristos.
The bridge is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the region with parking areas on both sides. One of the best features of the bridge are several platforms that cantilever out from the roadway. The popularity of the span has also unfortunately, made it a regional suicide magnet with approximately three jumpers a year. A movement is growing to address the problem.
White water rafting is popular in the region and allows a rare opportunity to view the bridge from the bottom of the canyon and visa versa!
4) Hike and Explore
With 320 sunny days a year, Taos has plenty of activities to enjoy the great outdoors. From miles of scenic hiking trails to our lovely parks, it’s easy to be outside most of the time.
From Wheeler Peak to William’s Lake, there are trails galore to follow and explore. During the snowy months you might be better sticking to the lower elevations and choosing to walk around the aforementioned parks, including Taos Land Trust’s new eco park, Don Fernando.
For more information on easy hikes closer to town as well as more adventurous excursions, check Taos.org’s link below this post.
5) DIY Art Stroll
Taos was New Mexico’s premier art colony and the first significant art colony in the American West. Founders were Ernest Blumenschein and Bert Phillips who were on a painting expedition together when their carriage broke down in the vicinity in 1898. Awed by the beauty of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range and intrigued by the mix of Taos Pueblo Indian and Hispanic cultures, they soon spread the word.
In addition to the society, Mabel Dodge Luhan was highly influential in promoting Taos to artists and writers within her International circle. During the early 20th century modern artists infused the area with a new artistic energy, followed in the 1950s by abstract artists. Taos supports more than 80 galleries and several museums. There are a number of organizations that support and promote the work of artists on the Taos Pueblo and in the Taos area, but for constantly updated information, check out the Taos Gallery Association as well as Taos.org.
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