Taos, It’s Not a Destination, It’s a Way of Life
Taos, New Mexico, is like no other destination on earth. Entire books written about Taos—the history, the art, the music, and the culture—have tried to capture the reasons Taos in unique. So I decided to give you my own take on what makes living in here such a special experience (and if you want to drill down on the details, we’ve provided an ample number of links for you on our Taos Resources page.
The What You See Checklist
I created a small checklist in my mind to narrow and clarify my thinking. There are many varied and compelling aspects to our little town in Northern New Mexico.
The Creative Spirit
The arts scene here is truly world class. Actors, musicians, painters, sculptors, photographers, filmmakers, writers, dancers, and composers are all drawn to the history, culture, and scenery here.
- Art. There’s a plethora of art galleries and artists. Taos is one of the oldest art colonies in the country, home to more than 80 art galleries and studios. Numerous area art tours and arts festivals, including the popular Taos Fall Arts Festival, draw large crowds every year—but art is part of our daily life.
- Music. You can find and experience live music in Taos every night of the week.
- Dance. From Taos Youth Ballet to Michael Hearne’s Big Barn Dance, from world-famous belly dancers to jazz and tap, Taos has an active dance scene.
- Film. Not only have we been been featured in films (including the classics Easy Rider and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the Pretty Horses, Powwow Highway, Terminator Salvation, and many more), but we also have several film festivals: the Taos Shortz Film Fest, Taos Environmental Film Festival, and Taos Mountain Film Festival. Even when we’re not in the midst of a festival, you can see indie films at both the Taos Center for the Arts and the Storyteller Cinema.
The Climate and Recreation
We get all four seasons here—and there are actually five different environmental zones, or microclimates. Whatever type of activity you’re most interested in, you’ll find an outlet for it.
- Skiing. Ski or snowboard the steep and deep in world-famous Taos Ski Valley.
- Hiking and biking. The mountains are close, and hiking is one of my personal favorite activities. I never get bored, and it’s a great way to stay in shape.
- Rafting, kayaking, and fishing. The Rio Grande offers white-water rafting and kayaking, and you can fly-fish not only in the Rio Grande, but also in numerous other rivers and lakes.
- Golf. If you like chasing a little white ball around, Taos Country Club and the Valle Escondido Golf Course offer a superb experience with scenery that can’t be beat.
- Horseback riding. There are numerous trails to ride. If you opt for a property that won’t accommodate horses, there are also boarding facilities, complete with arenas and easy access to trails.
- Hot-air ballooning. Up, up and away with any of the several balloon companies operating year-round—and the annual Taos Balloon Fiesta, held two weeks after the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, is not to be missed.
Shopping and Dining
With galleries, museum shops, specialty stores, indie bookshops, and independently owned boutiques specializing in clothing for men, women, and children, there is no shortage of opportunities for you to shop till you drop.
When you need to replenish the calories you’ve expended, you’ll find excellent fare from the humblest burrito wagon to the most upscale dining experience—and everything in between. Northern New Mexico cuisine isn’t Tex-Mex!
Chances are, your waitperson will ask you the official state question of New Mexico: “Red or green?” And those in the know will offer the official answer: “Christmas!” (It’s the best way to sample both red and green chile—and yes, that’s how we spell it here.)
Two distinctive styles of architecture prevail in Taos: Pueblo style, modeled on the flat-roofed construction found in Native American pueblo villages, and territorial style, which features a pitched roof, often made of Pro-panel or tin.
Occasionally you’ll see Spanish tile roofs. Most homes and other buildings have a stucco exterior, which is well-suited to our climate, but with a mix of historical and contemporary features, rarely are two homes alike.
Like Taos itself, Taos Pueblo isn’t simply a destination.
It’s among the oldest continuously inhabited communities in North America. When Spanish colonists arrived in 1540, the village had been inhabited for approximately 500 years. About 150 tribal members still live in the historic village, which is both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Historic Landmark.
At the Pueblo, as well as throughout Northern New Mexico, you will see influences of Spanish colonization, but Taos Pueblo people have maintained strong ties to their history—as has our Hispano population. Anglos are the newcomers in this historic place, but all three cultures are bound by respect and a common love of place.
Something was still missing –
While all of these things make Taos a great place to visit and a greater place to live, I still hadn’t put my finger on exactly what makes Taos a way of life. Then, one night while watching the news, it hit me.
The rest of the world is a backdrop, kind of like the background in a painting—chaos, unrest, political infighting, arguing, corruption—on and on.
While Taoseños are certainly capable of carrying on an informed debate on just about any topic, what makes our little town so unique—the Taos way of life—is that we share a common spirit, common values, and that love of place I mentioned above.
The Taos way of life is the spirit of being a Taoseño
Being a Taoseño is the result of taking all of this creative energy produced by artists, musicians, writers, painters, sculptors and filmmakers and adding the breathtaking, inspiring scenery and wildlife and shaking it up and what you get is a community and culture of people who share a common spirit and common values.
Live is for living and it’s a celebration
The Taos way of life is not just a way of life; it is a way of living. In Taos, we celebrate life. We live and we let live. We encourage diversity in all its forms. We respect the breathtaking environment we live in, and we respect one another.
The Taos spirit is infectious! It will overtake you and embrace you, and you will be compelled to return its embrace.
Trying to describe Taos in a way that does justice to its unique and eclectic nature is like trying to catch the wind with your hand or trying to touch the tip of your finger with the tip of your finger. It is elusive and very much a personal interpretation of what you see, feel, and experience. All of which means that you just have to visit and develop your own sense of what makes Taos unique and, if you do, stop by and say hi!
Don’t Take Our Word for It, Listen to What Other Say About Taos New Mexico