The Taos region had been on our hit list for years, and when we made it we found a Southwestern experience we never dreamed of. Here are 10 things about this high-desert mountain realm that has us vowing to return.
1) The Taos Pueblo, or village, was constructed between 1000 and 1450 AD. Today, the Pueblo is sill occupied.
2) In the 19th century, Taos Ski Valley was a small copper mining town called Twining. Today, Taos Ski Valley is world-renowned. The Kachina lift serves the highest elevation of any triple chair on the North American continent, to a staggering 12,481 feet. The mountain’s base elevation is 9,207 feet.
3) Is this New Mexico? Nearby Wheeler Peak is the highest point in New Mexico at 13,161 feet. The Kit Carson National Forest, one of five national forests in New Mexico, is comprised of more than 1.5 million acres.
4) Chile powder.
Taos Ski Valley receives 321 inches of snow each winter.
5) Taos is an art colony, an epicenter for bohemians who began settling in Taos in 1915. Today, there are several acclaimed studios, and artists and connoisseurs alike frequent the region.
6) Taos underground: The first Earthship was built here in 1972, and today a community of Earthship residents is growing. These are off-the-grid, partially subterranean homes are made with tires, bottles and recycled materials. They use renewable energy, water harvesting and are designed for indoor-outdoor food cultivation.
8) Cross the Rio Grande.
The Rio Grande Gorge, a National Wild and Scenic River, is 50 miles long and 800 feet deep. Home to bighorn sheep and 500-year-old ancient pinon and juniper trees, trails - and even some roads - lead to fly fishing, whitewater rafting and rock climbing.
9) The sky.
Here, a vast high desert landscape collides with the Rocky Mountains, and soft light bleeds over every last feature. Photographers flock here. Poets and songwriters are inspired here. Seeing is believing.
10) Scenes from the counter-culture classic “Easy Rider” were filmed here, and rising star Dennis Hopper liked it so much he bought property in Taos and was a regular at many social establishments. Since then, many other celebrities have followed suit.