On the way to Taos, New Mexico on April 12, we spent the afternoon visiting Santa Fe and taking the High Road into Taos. We stayed 12 nights at a townhouse style Airbnb in the adobe city of Taos. We even had our own Kiva (fireplace) which was nice and cozy on the mornings that started in the 20s – a bit chilly after leaving the warmth of Corpus Christi.
We spent a night in the state capitol of New Mexico last June on our way to a wedding in Colorado. Santa Fe at that time was crowded with people making it difficult to get around the narrow streets of old town. But this day trip was different - there were no crowds, we were able to walk about more easily, and get a better feel for what Santa Fe has to offer. We were also able to check out a few places that were closed on our last visit. We enjoyed ourselves so much we came back for a day-trip during our Taos stay. Here’s what we saw:
San Miguel Chapel, said to be the oldest church in the US (1600s).
Loretto Chapel (late 1800s) with the legendary helix shaped staircase. After nuns prayed to St. Joseph for 9 days, a carpenter showed up, built an impossible staircase in the chapel, and disappeared when he was finished. Mystery or miracle?
Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi (late 1800s)
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum honoring the 20th century American artist's achievements and legacy.
Approximately 90 minutes from Santa Fe is the low-keyed pueblo revival styled city of Taos, New Mexico (6,969 ft.). It is at the southern end of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico and Colorado. Taos Ski Valley is a 30-minute drive up to the ski village base (9,321 ft.) and has the tallest run in North America (12,481 ft.). This past ski season was the first time in 30 years they had no snow and limited runs were only open due to snow making equipment. We’ve never skied here and have always known the runs were considered “the steeps,” but my oh my, I’ve never seen so many chutes off a mountain ridge ever.
Like Santa Fe, Taos is known for its lively arts community. There are shops and galleries scattered throughout the area. It’s also known for some of the best food in New Mexico. But what strikes most people who take the time to really look at the area is the beautiful landscape.
Rio Grande Gorge Bridge (roughly 565 ft.) and the rift valley (one of two rift valleys of this kind in the world). As with many river valleys, we know the river cut through creating the canyon like the Grand Canyon, but that’s not what happened here. The rift was created by land masses pushing up against each other and the Rio Grande formed within these cracks by many streams and pools from southern Colorado to the Gulf of Mexico creating what we now know as the Rio Grande.
Taos Pueblo – Place of the Red Willow
The Tiwa Native American Tribe of Puebloan people have lived here over 1,000 years. It is the oldest continually inhabited community in the US. Currently there are 5 families living here full time with many members living within their tribal lands. There are approximately 3,000 registered Tiwa. Homes are typically passed down to the eldest son each generation and many of the homes that are not occupied full time are used throughout the year by family members. The Pueblo is made up of a number of adobe homes that are maintained and resurfaced with mud annually by the families. There is no running water, electricity, or indoor plumbing in the ancient buildings. Pueblo Indians are 90% Catholic. Catholicism is practiced along with the ancient religious life and does not conflict. The current St. Jerome Chapel was built in 1850 after the war with Mexico. The original structure had been built by the Spanish in 1690.
San Francisco de Asis at Ranchos de Taos (built 1772-1816)
It is considered one of the finest examples of a Spanish Colonial New Mexico mission church. It is thought to be one of the most photographed and painted churches in the world. Ansel Adams and Georgia O’Keeffe are known for their work on the subject. To this day, artists continue to explore the lines, and shadows created by this adobe masterpiece.
We enjoyed various drives around the area to take-in the breathtaking landscape of northern New Mexico. One of the main highways north goes right through the town of Taos so there seemed to be quite a bit of traffic, and this was slack season before summer gears up! Being that it was spring, and staying at nearly 7,000 ft., we had significant weather changes day to day with 20s some nights to 80 one day. We had snow, sun, and a lot of wind. We enjoyed our time here and wouldn’t hesitate to stay in this enchanted land again.
Thanks for joining our journey.