Travel Weekly editor Michael Ardizzone recently toured Taos.
His report follows:
t's hard to define Taos, a
place that attracts no less than three different types of niche
travelers and has several distinct personalities.
For some, Taos is a ski resort. For others, it's a history
lesson on Native Americans and frontiersmen like Kit Carson.
Taos also is a community where artists, including Georgia
O'Keeffe, Ansel Adams and D.H. Lawrence, have congregated for
decades, and where wonderful pieces of art are on display at every
And if none of those interests appeals to clients, then they can
sit back and enjoy the stunning backdrop of the Sangre de Cristo
mountains or partake in the variety of attractions Taos has to
For awhile, Taos was something of a hippie town -- inspired by
the movie "Easy Rider," which was filmed here by former resident
But it also has a more glamorous side. With its typical
Southwestern topography and adobe architecture, Taos looks like a
western movie set.
So it's only natural that several major films have been shot
here, including "Valley of the Sun," starring Lucille Ball, and
"The Milagro Beanfield War" (based on the book by Taos resident
John Nichols and directed by Robert Redford).
Despite all the phases it's gone through -- ranch town, art
community, hippie colony, movie-star retreat -- Taos retains the
feel of a frontier town.
The Native American influence is great, as is the legacy of the
Spanish, who controlled and settled this area.
The heart of Taos
The center of the town is Taos Plaza, a square of stores and
gift shops and a good place to use as a starting point for
exploration. A block away is Bent Street, the place to shop for
quality local crafts and original artwork.
In and around Taos Plaza is the historic district, where 65
galleries and shops are located. Five of Taos' seven museums are
within a five-block area.
High on the list of must-sees is a visit to the Indian Pueblo,
three miles north of Taos Plaza, and home of the Taos-Tiwa Indians.
This visit was the most memorable outing on my trip to Taos.
The 100 or so people who live in these pueblo dwellings (some
structures are more than 1,000 years old) do not have electricity
or plumbing because they want to retain the lifestyle of their
ancestors; they do drive cars, however.
Several residents have stores selling high-quality crafts and
souvenirs. Guided tours are available.
Four miles south of Taos Plaza is the San Francisco de Asis
Mission. Built between 1710 and 1801, it's one of the most painted
(including O'Keeffe) and photographed (including Adams) churches in
About 11 miles north of the plaza is the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge,
at 650 feet, it's the second-highest suspension bridge in the U.S.
and a great photo opportunity.
Farther north is the Taos Ski Valley, with 73 trails and 12
lifts. The ski season is from November through April.
After a day on the slopes, visitors during late February will
appreciate the annual Taos Winter Wine Festival, a major event that
features nationally recognized winemakers and sommeliers.
Museums and galleries
Taos has a rich history of resident artists and, naturally,
several excellent museums. The migration of artists began with the
Taos Society of Artists, founded around 1912.
Writer Mabel Dodge Luhan was a major figure in forming the
artistic character of Taos; she enticed artists, including
O'Keeffe, to live and work in the area.
Luhan, whose house is open to visitors and also serves as an
inn, entertained the likes of Lawrence; "Brave New World" author,
Aldous Huxley; and screen legend Greta Garbo.
Also responsible for luring artists to Taos was Millicent
Rogers, a granddaughter of one of the founders of Standard Oil, who
was drawn there by its landscape and history.
A museum of her holdings, the Millicent Rogers Museum of Taos,
showcases Native American artifacts, including jewelry, textiles
Meanwhile, the Harwood Museum of Art, which is within walking
distance of Taos Plaza, has a gallery devoted to the Taos Society
of Artists and features primarily 20th-century art.
Another memorable outing was the Fechin Museum, dedicated to
Nicolai Fechin, a Russian-born artist who came to Taos in 1927 and
became one of its most influential artists.
Fechin renovated his adobe home himself; it now serves as a
museum of his works. In addition to his paintings, his hand-carved
furniture and artistic home design are part of the attraction.
Admission to the museum is free to guests of the Fechin Inn,
located behind the museum.
Galleries are numerous and can be found on almost every street.
Art festivals and special exhibits are frequent; consult the
Chamber of Commerce for details.
A different kind of museum, the Kit Carson House and Museum,
displays period rooms and personal artifacts from the guide and
frontiersman who called Taos his home. Carson is buried in
Taos also has a modern convention center and there are several
hotels with meetings facilities. Call the Taos Chamber of Commerce
Contacts :Taos Talk
Taos Chamber of Commerce
Phone: (800) 732-TAOS
Taos Ski Valley
Phone: (505) 776-2291
Taos Convention Center
Phone: (505) 758-5792
Phone: (505) 758-1028
Taos Association of Bed & Breakfast Inns
Phone: (800) 939-2215
Lodging options run the gamut of tastes
TAOS -- When the sun sets, Taos is ready with a variety of
accommodations. While the smaller properties don't have standard
commission structures, most said they will work with agents.
• Once a hippie hangout, the Laughing Horse Inn is an ideal
accommodation for the young and adventurous. This bed and breakfast
is famous internationally for its informal, communal atmosphere,
but it's not for everyone. Bathrooms are shared and some of the
beds are in lofts. Call (505) 758-8350 or visit www.laughinghorseinn.com.
• Called an "Earth ship" because of its dedication to
environmental principles, but looking more like a spaceship, the
Dobson House is a B&B that features two rooms in a home that's
solar-powered and was built with recycled materials. Call (505)
776-5738 or visit www.newmex.com/dobsonhouse.
• An artist's vision of a small inn is realized in Touchstone, a
retreat-type accommodation featuring a wonderful gallery of artist
Bren Price's work and her decoration throughout. Call (800)
758-0192 or visit www.touchstoneinn.com.
• Art lovers also will appreciate the impressive art gallery at
the Kachina Lodge and Meetings Center. Call (505) 758-2275 or visit
• Don Fernando de Taos is a Holiday Inn property with 126 guest
rooms, meetings facilities and a bar that creates a social
atmosphere. Call (505) 758-4444 or visit www.holiday-taos.com.
• Casa de las Chimeneas, located just outside Taos Plaza, offers
eight private rooms and suites with first class amenities. There is
a wellness center with a menu of spa treatments. Virtual tours are
available on its Web site. Call (877) 758-4777 or visit www.visit-Taos.com.
• Dharma Properties offers luxury guest homes with fully
equipped kitchens and fireplaces. Some of the units are themed.
Goldie Hawn has even stayed here. Call (800) 828-TAOS or visit www.taosbest.com. -- M.A.