taos in the movies
Taos has always inspired artists and other creative types, and cinema is no exception. The dramatic landscape and rich stories of the people have inspired dramas, science fiction, comedies, action/adventures and documentaries. Come explore where movies are made!
Easy Rider >> Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid >> No Country for Old Men >> Wild Hogs >> Terminator Salvation >> TAOS the Movie >> The Missouri Breaks >> Valley of the Sun >> The Milagro Beanfield War >>
A Self-Guided Day Tour of the Taos Area
Regardless of your arrival route into Taos, you are sure to be saying to yourself “I’ve seen this before”. You have the movies to thank for that déjà vu moment, because all routes leading to Taos from every direction have been featured at one time or another in many of your favorite films. Its part of what makes Taos seem so familiar to so many people and we like that!
• Over 40 feature-length and made-for-TV movies and documentaries have been filmed in and around Taos, as well as numerous TV commercials and fashion magazine spreads.
• While the most iconic of the popular feature films shot here was 1969’s Easy Rider, starring Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson, did you know the other big hit of that year – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid with Paul Newman and Robert Redford was also shot primarily in Taos and nearby Chama?
• Our most famous ‘star’ is the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, the 5th highest bridge in the United States, spanning the Rio Grande River some 650’ below. In recent years it has proven to be a regular feature in biker classics beginning with Easy Rider and 2006’s Wild Hogs; Terminator Salvation’s spectacular destruction scene (2009); the Academy Award-winning 2007’s No Country for Old Men; in 2011’s spring release of the sci-fi comedy Paul as he and his friends journey in search of UFO ‘hot spots’; and the December 2011 Sean Penn film release This Must Be The Place.
• With an equal number of starring roles is Taos Pueblo, having been featured in 2008’s film festival favorite TAOS, The Movie; the 2001 Disney documentary Land of Enchantment; the 1992 TV documentary by Pueblo native Diane Reyna Surviving Columbus, The Story of the Pueblo People; 1989’s TV documentary Artists of New Mexico; and of course Easy Rider along with a cameo in the 1956 Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis comedy Hollywood or Bust.
Our most famous resident who never was: Dennis Weaver starring in McCloud as Marshal Sam McCloud, a law officer from Taos, New Mexico on semi-permanent “special assignment” with the New York City Police Department in 1970.
Taos’ most famous resident celebrity is Julia Roberts, who was filmed at her home in a documentary segment in 2005’s Tell Them Who You Are and several episodes of Oprah.
Movie Sets and Scenes in and around Taos
Taos Pueblo www.taospueblo.com 575.758.1028
Continuously occupied for over 1,000 years and the only UNESCO Living World Heritage Site in the US, Taos Pueblo has also been prominently featured in State promotions for New Mexico. And, during the filming of Valley of the Sun, Lucille Ball’s husband Desi Arnaz was said to have whiled away the days teaching the Pueblo children how to play congas. (1 hour)
Rio Grande Gorge Bridge
It’s a riveting backdrop that also appeared in 1988’s Twins and Oliver Stone’s 1994 action/drama Natural Born Killers. Located 13 miles north and west of Taos on NM 64, it spans an inaccessible section of the gorge some 650’ above the river. (30 minutes)
Mabel Dodge Luhan House www.mabeldodgeluhan.com 240 Morada Lane, 800.846.2235
It is only fitting that the home built by the doyenne of Taos’ artistic movement would later be owned by actor/director Dennis Hopper. After directing Easy Rider, the movie that made him a star, Hopper was so taken with the Taos scenery and lifestyle that he spent another ten years living and working at this iconic local landmark after the film was completed. That era – and Hopper – brought a whole new set of stars to Taos, including Timothy Leary, Jack Nicholson, Dean Stockwell, Harry Dean Stanton and Janis Joplin, who made the Taos scene very hip. In 1988 the house also served as the backdrop in the hit film Twins, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny de Vito. (Call ahead and plan
San Francisco de Asis Church 575.758.2754 (call for hours)
Located in Ranchos de Taos on NM 68, 1⁄4 mile south of NM 518. A reenactment of the “Burning of Zozobra” – a Santa Fe tradition – was moved here by director Dennis Hopper for a more dramatic treatment in the 1990 film Backtrack/CatchFire. This location was also made famous through the paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe and the photography of Ansel Adams. Tours of the Church and the Mystery painting contained in a separate building are also available. Hopper, who died in 2010, was laid to rest from this beloved landmark. (30 minutes)
Site of the gallery scene (formerly the Ek-lec-tic Gallery) in 2002’s Off the Map, featuring director Campbell Scott and starring Joan Allen, Sam Elliot and Amy Brenneman. Open from 4-10 pm during the week and 12-10 pm on weekends.
Taos Ski Valley www.skitaos.org 575.776.2291
Our neighbor to the northeast is blessed with rugged mountain scenery and more than a
couple dramatic canyons that proved highly appealing to the producers and director of 1990’s Backtrack/CatchFire; 2007’s Seraphim Falls, starring Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan; 2008’s TAOS, the Movie; and 2011’s Longmire, a TV pilot starring Lou Diamond Phillips. A scenic drive and a summer ski lift ride give dramatic indications of why Taos Ski Valley is a movie location favorite. (2 hours)
In and around Taos
In addition to playing a starring or supporting role in the aforementioned films, the 2005 acclaimed TBS made-for-TV mini-series Into the West; the 2005 remake of The Longest Yard and 2003’s The Missing with Tommy Lee Jones also had significant segments filmed here.