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Taos: a four letter word for enchanted

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Taos
A trail runner on the Rift Valley Trail outside Taos, New Mexico. Photo- Terrance Siemon

Known for steep and deep skiing, summers here are quiet.  But there’s something happening in this northern New Mexican mountain oasis.

It’s an evolution of how people see this land.  Some call it a revolution. If you’re into adventure away from the crowds, you might want to swing through Taos. And you better plan to stay a while.

by Brandon Mathis

Here canyon scarred grass and sage plains crash into mountains, and cultures blend into one.  The thousand foot deep Rio Grande Gorge carved almost parallel to a backdrop of the Sange de Cristos – the blood of Christ – Mountains, Taos is a place where worlds collide. Ancient history, American history, mountains, deserts, culture, theatrical sunsets, torrential downpours, cold alpine summits and lazy long summer days. The reoccurring brilliant mornings give way to a feeling that anything is possible.

With a mix of rustic and tired, shiny and new, everything seems to glow.

The Northside at Taos Ski Valley

The Frazer Mountain Trail at the Northside. This is New Mexico mountain biking at its best. Photo – Terrance Siemon

A 1,500 acre private mountain paradise is yours for $10 a day.

Eighteen miles of trails that warp though nearly untouched alpine tundra, old growth forests and over soft carpets of moss and pine needles. Head for Frazer Mountain Trail, High T and the Overlooks at 12,000 feet plus for alpine views, then laugh as you careen all the way down.

Mountain runners love the Northside for its high country trails and rugged terrain. Photo – Terrance Simon

Mountain bikers, hikers, trail runners and wildlife enthusiasts alike use the Nortside as portal to the high country. So do the resident big horn sheep.

 

At the Taos gorge, there’s a lifetime of rock worth climbing.

Bouldering in the Rio Grande Gorge. There is an endless amount of climbing in the Taos area, and climbers are flocking more and more every year. Photo – Terrance Siemon

While there are established routes all over, ambitious climbers are hard at work finding new ones.

In Taos, bold climbers are more concerned with what’s above them than below. Photo- Brandon Mathis

Classic areas nearby include Tres Piedras and El Rito. Closer to town you’ll find The Dead Cholla, John Dune Bridge, Utopian Vistas and more. Bolted routes, traditional routes and bouldering abound. Check in with Mountain Skills Rock Climbing Adventures.

 

Oars and rapids on the Rio Grande River

The guides with Far Flung know where the fun is on the Rio Grande. Photo- Brandon Mathis

The river provides in Taos in more ways than one and while it’s not center stage, the whitewater scene here is up from spring through October. Tributaries, many with world-class paddling in their own right, feed the Rio Grande keeping sections like the Box, the Gorge and the Race Course good all season. We jumped in with Far Flung Adventures for a half day on the Race Course, with class 3 rapids, swimming holes, rock diving and more floating under some of the oldest rock on earth-  1.7 billion years.

Sleep: The Hotel Luna Mystica

A 1951 Spartanette at the Hotel Luna Mystica. Photo- Terrance Siemon.

At first glance this vintage trailer park on the outskirts of Taos looks like what it is, a cluster of banged up metal Aisrtreams and other trailers from 1950s and 1960s, but one look inside and you’ll drop your bags. From the 1960 Traveleze to the 1952 Royal Spartanette, the renovation of these iconic travel rigs is magnificent.

Summer mornings at the Hotel Luna Mystica, the trailer park where you wish you lived. Photo – Brandon Mathis

The location is ideal as well, in between town and the Gorge, on the road to or from mountains and a few steps from Taos Mesa Brewing, complete with craft beer, a full menu and live music. At night, resident coyotes serenaded us to sleep against the dark stretches of the Sangre de Crsitos.

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