By Lesley S. King
New Mexico's favorite arts town enjoys a masterpiece setting, wedged between the towering Rocky Mountains and plunging Rio Grande Gorge about 70 miles north of Santa Fe. Its 5,000 residents combine a 1960s vibe (thanks to communes popular then) with the ancient Taos Pueblo culture -- some people still live in electricity-free adobes as their ancestors did 1,000 years ago). Taos isn't just all green-loving hippies. The city boasts some of the best restaurants in the state, a hot arts scene and incredible outdoors action, including world-class skiing.
Schussers from around the world head to Taos Ski Valley to tame the steep inclines and pound the moguls of the southern Rockies' preeminent ski resort. The valley's ample dry, light powder is only part of the appeal. Skiers also love the challenging runs and one of the nation's best ski schools. Not far away, Angel Fire Resort draws families and skiers who want to play on Taos' beginner and intermediate slopes.
Things to Do
The golden adobe dwellings at Taos Pueblo look much as they have for 1,000 years. Still occupied by the Tiwa tribe, the pueblo welcomes visitors with smoky, wood-fired bread, turtle and buffalo dances and a Christmas festival famous for its raging bonfires. Tiwa artisans sell heavy silver-and-turquoise bracelets and nubby, hand-woven blankets at the Pueblo. Georgia O'Keeffe, Ansel Adams and countless other artists have been inspired by another adobe attraction, San Francisco de Asis, a lovely church north of town.
Eating and Drinking
Taos' creativity is evident in its cuisine. Diners clad in jeans or even ski pants dig into northern New Mexico's best chile at Orlando's New Mexico Cafe. A bustling open kitchen sits in the center of a colorful dining room that also serves spicy homemade enchiladas and posole, a Mexican corn stew thick with pork, chilis, hominy and cilantro. Cool the heat by drinking cold Mexican beer garnished with a lime wedge.
Arts and Culture
The Taos landscape, sculpted by the rugged Rocky Mountains and the gaping Rio Grande Gorge, has inspired artists for centuries. The Taos Art Museum displays rose-colored mountain scenes and vibrant Navajo villages created by the late 19th and early 20th-century Taos Society of Artists. Modern masterpieces grace the walls of more than 50 galleries on the plaza. Favorites include Navajo Gallery with works by local R.C. Gorman and Michael McCormick Gallery, all of its works revolving around Southwestern themes.