TAOS AND THE TAOS PUEBLO:

Many people staying at Rancho Jacona enjoy spending a day seeing Taos and the country between here and there. There are two routes, one, the high road through several picturesque mountain villages; the other the low road through the gorge of the Rio Grande. We suggest going the high route—taking your time—and returning the low route, equally dramatic but quicker at the end of the day. You can obtain a “throw away” map at the office at Rancho Jacona that lists the roadways taking you to Taos via the villages of Chimayo, on up the mountain to Truchas, over the mountain to Penasco, then down the other side to Ranchos de Taos, where you will pass one of the most often painted churches in the World and just about the only church to have its backside immortalized. (It’s those sensual adobe butt. . .resses.)From there it’s just a few miles to Taos itself. Time, about two hours, if you have not stopped to take a lot of photos on the way. (If you’d rather go the quicker way, take NM 502 east to Highway 84/285 and turn north to Espanola. In Espanola NM 84/285 becomes NM 68, which takes you the rest of the way. Time: an hour and a quarter.)

Taos is a town known both as an art center and for its proximity to Taos Pueblo—a few miles north—which centers on multi storied adobe apartment houses continuously occupied for the past 900 years. While many of the ground floor dwellings have been converted into curio shops, the upper floors still serve as housing. Taos provides a look at a society similar to those that built the now protected ruins in Bandelier, the ruins in the cliff caves of Mesa Verde and in the expanses of Chaco Canyon. It was the style of life that gave the native people of Northern New Mexico the name “Pueblo Indians,” for they lived in “Pueblos”, settled towns, rather than being nomadic, like the Native Americans of the Plains. If you want to see the Pueblo, call ahead. Taos has been known to close the road to tourists without previous warning. It is not considered polite to go into the cemetery or to visit largely unclothed.

The town of Taos has many gift shops and art galleries; both hiking and skiing areas are near by. There are many restaurants, several of them near the plaza (near the plaza you will inevitably encounter THE ETERNAL TAOS ROAD BLOCK at the center of town where two narrow roads are occupied by steady streams of people, ninety percent of whom are trying to make a left turn against traffic.) If you have an inveterate fly fisherman among you, Taos is the place to hire a fishing guide and follow him up into the mountains to the trout streams.

The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge is ten miles east and north of Taos (take NM-68N from Taos to NM-64E). The bridge, with pedestrian walks, is 650 feet above the Rio Grande at the bottom of the gorge, which is a naturally occurring fault in the earth’s crust. The drive to Taos includes a scenic section of road parallel to the gorge with a Visitor’s Center and several overlook stops.

Note: “Curio shop” is not a synonym for Native American Art. It means what it means everywhere. Salt shakers manufactured in Taiwan to represent something local, like cactus.