Taos, New Mexico is filled with artists, great food and amazing outdoor spaces. We wandered the historic downtown area for hours, peaking into shops in the Taos Plaza. Parting with some cash is part of any town visit, as all the shiny things call to Steve like it’s Christmas.
But first…leaving Colorado Springs…again
Our original plan was to drive the Enchanted Circle (Hwy 64 to 522 to 38 and back to 64), hanging out at different places within it. From Colorado Springs, we drove down to Raton, New Mexico. It’s only a couple hours away but it was enough for us. During this past couple weeks, I’ve emotionally and physically felt similar to how I did after my Dad died. Very tired with random bouts of crying. We left The Springs on a Tuesday, after having moved Steve’s Dad into Assisted Living the previous Thursday. We got to hang out with him in his apartment off and on for a couple days before taking care of some of our own logistics and then hitting the road. Moving Bill was emotional to say the least.
Steve and I honestly believed his Independent Living apartment would be his forever home. But then Covid and isolation and some cognitive decline and the docs declared that a move to a facility with a more regimented schedule offers a better living opportunity for Bill. We did the preliminary search last Fall, then took Bill to our top choices. He really liked one of the places, so we set a date. He didn’t want to move. We didn’t want him to have to. He’s simply on his own though and needs more care, so choices are limited. Anyway, all that to say, it turns out that Steve and I felt completely drained after the months of yo-yo-ing back and forth to Colorado Springs. We get away from there for a couple weeks, then head back for more doctors’ appointments, searching, choosing, making it all happen.
First Stop: Raton, New Mexico
In Raton, we stayed at the KOA. It’s not fancy, but it’s functional. It’s also virtually across the street from a grocery store. Walking distance to groceries? You bet! To top it off, it’s a grocery that sells its own freshly baked tortillas. Thank you, New Mexico! We stayed a couple nights, soaking up their WiFi and relaxing. From Raton, we drove down I25 to Hwy 64, where we headed off towards Taos. And promptly hit lots of snow. The roads stayed clear, for which we felt thankful. Getting to our selected boondocking sites could not happen though because of too much snow on the side roads. While the main roads get ploughed, the gravel forest service roads do not.
We searched Campendium and iOverlander, as well as a couple other apps, but found no accessible roads for the free camping. So, we kept going. What else is there to do? Coming down the mountain pass into Taos brought a huge reduction in snow level, all the way to zero snow in the town itself. We like zero snow.
First, we tried the casino, as some RV’ers had success overnighting there in the past. Alas, dear Covid, you mess things up for everyone. No more lot-camping. So off to Taos Valley RV Park we went.
Taos Valley RV Park
It’s a nice park and actually cost a tiny bit less than the KOA in Raton, so that’s a win! We could also walk to a couple restaurants. Oh my word, the food in New Mexico. It’s to die for! We definitely enjoyed the green & red chiles, the tacos, the enchiladas and the chile rellenos. My digestive system may have been calling for mercy though. That was a lot of spicy eating.
The RV Park offers tent camping and RV parking. It’s just minutes from downtown Taos. I definitely recommend this as the place to stay! All the spots have a picnic table, but some have a little A-frame shelter over them. Guess it’s a clear indication that this area gets hot in the summer! As far as RV parks go, this one is pretty good. There’s enough room between sites that you don’t reach out your window to borrow sugar from the campers next door. Plus the proximity to downtown, restaurants and hiking trails is great.
The tourist stops that weren’t to be
- Well, on the top of my list of things to do is to visit the Taos Pueblo. Well it’s Covid-closed for the time being, so we crossed it off the list.
- Next item is visiting The Earthship Biotecture facility. But you guessed it, also Covid-closed during our visit. So another stop off the list. I think it’s opening back up soon or maybe already has by the time I’m getting around to writing this.
- The third stop I planned is at the Rio Grade Gorge Bridge. We planned to see it on our way around the Enchanted Circle, but randomly decided to head to Santa Fe instead. Then we went a different route on the way back to Colorado. So off the list. Each of these are places I’m looking forward to seeing and hope to get back there soon to be able to.
So, my favorite things in Taos…
We very much enjoyed the historic downtown area. We parked and walked around for a few hours. Shopping. Looking at art. Shopping a bit more. Crowds of people joined us in the browsing but for the most part, people were masked up and stayed distant when possible. But it’s a tourist town, so there are crowds.
I can’t remember the name of the first art gallery we went into. We chatted with the artist for awhile and got to pet his awesome dog! This was probably my favorite shop. His art was full of vibrant colors and another artist created these beautiful sculptures. I always fall in love with art that costs thousands, rather than art that costs hundreds, it just figures!
All the shiny things…
Simms Art Gallery is a fun stop. Steve got a new beaded bracelet and we chatted with the owner for a little while. She’s originally from a small town in Washington, where two of our sons happen to live! It was fun to talk to her and to hear stories of her journey from Washington to New Mexico. If you’re in Taos, stop by and say hey. Her gallery is small and supports several local artists, so check them out.
Another fun shop is La Tierra Neral Gallery. It’s in the John Dunn Shopping area and it’s full of rocks. Seriously, every kind of rock or gem you can think of. While we didn’t make a purchase here, we did enjoy looking at all the ways rock was used to make beautiful pieces.
I even liked the basket of sand dollar fossils, which the sign said were 160 million years old. They were neat.
One cabinet held a Utah Lizard in Amber, which was not for sale. It’s sign said it was a 99 million year old Mid-Cretaceous period dragon lizard that was discovered in Myanmar. How cool is that!
Steve’s a shopper, me…not so much. So while he went in some stores, I sat on a bench in the sun to people watch and listen to a gentleman playing banjo. That’s a good afternoon for me. Sunshine, music and an endless parade right in front of me!
Checking out the Town Plaza in Taos
We wandered around Taos historic district, which meant a gander through the town plaza to see its statues. We read about Padre Antonio Jose Martinez, who opened schools and educated many who went on to become important politicians, judges and scholars. He started New Mexico’s first printing press to print grammar, math and law books for his schools. He also re-started the local newspaper. Upon his death in 1867, Padre Martinez was recognized as “The Honor of his Homeland”.
On the edge of the plaza are a couple of interesting sculptures of people who turn into a face. Does that make any sense? No. I’m not sure how to explain it, but these two sculptures kind of wrapped up all the quirkiness of Taos for me. They aren’t exactly what they seem to be from a distance but upon closer inspection they unveil more of themselves. I get that same impression with the whole town. The historic area is beautiful, but surrounding it are miles and miles of nature just begging to be explored.
So that’s what we decided to do! Go exploring outside!
But first, we needed to eat!
Our meals here are very good and the atmosphere is super fun. The owners are also serving, so we enjoyed meeting them. It’s always nice to see the passion and the love behind the dishes. I had the crispy chile rellenos with green sauce. Delicious, but pretty spicy. Steve enjoyed a humongous chicken burrito smothered in green sauce. The portions are huge, the food is flavorful! And my jalapeño margarita really hit the spot!
El Tasoseno Restaurant
Okay let me just say…sopapillas! So yummy. We both had the Chile relleno plate with an enchilada and taco. Chips and salsa too. I took half mine to go and enjoyed it for lunch the next day. Those amazing little fried bread pieces of goodness though. Drizzle a little honey and that was the perfect ending to a great meal. Very reasonable prices and most of the diners seemed to know each other. We love finding local favs.
From Taos to Sante Fe…
We drove down Hwy 68 towards Santa Fe, leaving behind our quest for the Enchanted Circle. South seemed safer when it come to accessible boondocking without snow. After finding a great place to hang for a few days, we settled in to soak up the sunshine! We’ll be back Taos, and we’ll see the rest that you have to offer!
Before you go, check out this post about visiting the Great Sand Dunes. It’s nearby and it’s awesome!