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Taos, NM

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Taos Ski Valley

Taos Ski Valley

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San Francisco de Asis Church

San Francisco de Asis Church

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Taos Ski Valley at Night

Taos Ski Valley at Night

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Taos casts a lingering spell. Set on an undulating mesa at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, it's a place of piercing light and spectacular views, where the desert palette changes almost hourly as the sun moves across the sky. Adobe buildings—some of them centuries old—lie nestled amid pine trees and scrub, some in the shadow of majestic Wheeler Peak, the state's highest point, at just over 13,000 feet. The smell of piñon-wood smoke rises from the valley from early autumn through late spring; during the warmer months, the air smells of fragrant sage.The earliest residents, members of the Taos-Tiwa tribe, have inhabited this breathtaking valley for more than a millennium; their descendants still live and maintain a traditional way of life at Taos Pueblo, a 95,000-acre reserve 4 miles northeast of Taos Plaza. Spanish settlers arrived in the 1500s, bringing both farming and Catholicism to the area; their influence remains most pronounced in the diminutive village of Ranchos de Taos, 4 miles south of town, where the massive adobe walls and camposanto (graveyard) of San Francisco de Asís Church have been attracting photographers for generations.In the early 20th century, another population—artists—discovered Taos and began making the pilgrimage here to write, paint, and take photographs. The early adopters of this movement, painters Bert Phillips and Ernest Blumenschein stopped here in 1898 quite by chance to repair a wagon wheel while en route from Denver to Mexico in 1898. Enthralled with the earthy beauty of the region, they abandoned their intended plan, settled near the plaza, and in 1915 formed the Taos Society of Artists. In later years, many illustrious artists—including Georgia O'Keeffe, Ansel Adams, and D. H. Lawrence—frequented the area, helping cement a vaunted arts tradition that thrives to this day. The steadily emerging bohemian spirit has continued to attract hippies, counterculturalists, New Agers, gays and lesbians, and free spirits. Downtown—along with some outlying villages to the south and north, such as Ranchos de Taos and Arroyo Seco—now support a rich abundance of galleries and design-driven shops. Whereas Santa Fe, Aspen, Scottsdale, and other gallery hubs in the West tend toward pricey work, much of it by artists living elsewhere, Taos remains very much an ardent hub of local arts and crafts production and sales. A half-dozen excellent museums here also document the town's esteemed artistic history.About 5,600 people live year-round within Taos town limits, but another 28,000 reside in the surrounding county, much of which is unincorporated, and quite a few others live here seasonally. This means that in summer and, to a lesser extent, during the winter ski season, the town can feel much larger and busier than you might expect, with a considerable supply of shops, restaurants, and accommodations. Still, overall, the valley and soaring mountains of Taos enjoy relative isolation, low population-density, and magnificent scenery, parts of which you can access by visiting Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, one of the park service’s newest properties—it’s was designated in March 2013. These elements combine to make Taos an ideal retreat for those aiming to escape, slow down, and embrace a distinct regional blend of art, cuisine, outdoor recreation, and natural beauty.

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Place
Visit One of America’s Most Historic Communities
Visit One of America’s Most Historic Communities

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Taos Pueblo was constructed by Native Americans more than a millennium ago, and has been occupied ever since.

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Place
A Fine Overview of the Arts Scene
A Fine Overview of the Arts Scene

Taos has long been famed as an artists’ colony and creative hub. Get a taste of the scene, both past and present, at the Harwood Museum of Art.

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Alamy

Place
The Most-Often-Painted Church in America
The Most-Often-Painted Church in America

The simple beauty of the adobe San Francisco de Asis Church has enthralled countless artists, including Georgia O’Keeffe and photographer Ansel Adams.

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Alamy

Place
Raft the Rio Grande’s ‘Racecourse’
Raft the Rio Grande’s ‘Racecourse’

Even beginners can enjoy a whitewater raft trip on this not-too-difficult section of the river 15 miles south of Taos. Season runs spring through fall.

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Alamy

Place
See the Nation’s Seventh-Highest Bridge
See the Nation’s Seventh-Highest Bridge

Eleven miles northwest of town, the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge links the steep sides of a spectacular canyon, providing awesome views.

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Alamy

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