Town of Taos
Visitors annually trek to this unique town called Taos as much for its magical and historical qualities as for its art and culture. Taos Valley has been settled for over 9,000 years, first by ancient Native cultures, then the Spanish explorers who came in 1540, then gradually by “Anglos” spreading west in mining, trapping, and pioneering efforts. The town is a high mountain desert of just over 7,000 feet elevation with dramatic views of Taos Mountain and the Taos Valley. It is sought after for its arts, weather, colorful history (Kit Carson lived and died here) and not the least for the varied real estate with historic adobe structures, predominantly in the historic district. Even now, there are acequias (historic networks of irrigation ditches) running through the town, among the old adobes and the new homes and condominium developments, mini meadows and parks. Living in the town is a very sought after commodity as you can walk and bike anywhere...shopping, schools, movies, churches, yet the mountain views are never too far.. The Taos Plaza is a great venue for many events and a great place to mingle with neighbors and visitors alike.
Taos Pueblo, or Pueblo de Taos
Situated in the valley of a small tributary of the Rio Grande, this Pueblo Indian settlement, consisting of adobe dwellings and ceremonial buildings, exemplifies the enduring culture of a group of the present-day Pueblo Indians. It is one of a group of settlements established in the late 13th and early 14th centuries in the valleys of the Rio Grande and its tributaries that have survived to the present day and constitutes a significant stage in the history of urban, community and cultural life and development in this region. Pueblo de Taos is similar to the settlements in the Four Corners area of the Anasazi, or ancient Pueblo people at such places as Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde, and continues to be a thriving community with a living culture. Pueblo de Taos is a remarkable example of a traditional type of architectural ensemble from the pre-hispanic period of the Americas unique to this region and one which, because of the living culture of its community, has successfully retained most of its traditional forms up to the present day. This is a UNESCO designated World Heritage site. A MUST see!
Go east down Kit Carson Road and just after the Court House and Museum you come into the Cañon area of the Town of Taos. Originally grazing and Pueblo lands, then alfalfa fields, it was gradually settled as the town expanded. All along the road, in the beginning part of the 20th Century, tourist camps were set up, probably where some of the resorts and motels are now located. It is a mixed area of superb condominiums, older settled adobe homes, studios and galleries, resorts, and open fields. Truly the flavor of the old New Mexico is reflected in this small area adjacent to the core of town. Many acequias criss-cross Cañon where you can still find the old traditional Territorial style adobe homes, next to modern new homes and even a few Condominium clusters. The center piece of this area is the historic San Geronimo building.
West into Cañon up into the foothills is the area named Cañon Heights, going up Piedmont Road. It is well worth a drive to explore the nooks and crannies of Cañon Heights, perhaps even finding a trail for a nice walk. The convenient access to town makes it quite desirable for newcomers. The homes built on the upper slopes of the heights are in the more recent, modern, elegant, adobe style, with enough space for horses. Some home sites (yes, there are still available some) and existing homes offer some of the best views of the entire valley and beyond. The views down into Taos and north to the mountain are clear, wide, and striking, especially when combined with the omnipresent brilliant, blue sky. The access to the Kit Carson National Forest is an added benefit of living in Cañon.
The Weimer area, a suburb of Taos, is snuggled against the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. As you drive up past the Holy Cross Hospital, you notice that the area changes from a sage brush to mixed sage and piñon indicating that it becomes the foothills for the majestic mountain range behind. The area contains higher-end, newer built homes, each surrounded by plentiful land and overlooking an amazing vista of Taos Valley. This area is as close to the suburbia that we all know too well from other parts of the country as you are going to get in Taos. It has been planned and built upon fairly recently with more consistency and uniformity of mostly adobe style homes on sizes of land ranging from the minimum of 1 acre to 3 acre estate size horse properties and some even larger. The proximity to health services makes Weimer area sought after among the aging segment of population.
Just north of Taos on Paseo Del Pueblo Sur (Highway 64) is the Community of El Prado overlooking meadows, Taos Mountain, and Pueblo lands. There are many interesting shops, restaurants, businesses, and galleries in El Prado. If you are on your way in or out of Taos, it is well worth your while to stop and browse the many offerings. This area is desirable for the homebuyer because while it is close to the Town, it is also getting bit closer to the Ski Valley. You will still find much vacant land, a lot of desirable irrigated parcels and a variety of homes of all styles, Territorial, adobe, strawbale and frame.
Upper Ranchitos Road follows the Rio Lucero and Rio Pueblo de Taos along lovely farm land, fields, cottonwood trees, and the Millicent Rogers Road to the Millicent Rogers Museum. It is a lovely drive if you want to get away for awhile, but can’t get too far from home or work. It is an area of a mix, not so unique to Taos, of the old adobe homes, but now some manufactured ones as well as many new adobe style homes and a few B&Bs. You will also find much irrigated land here.
Ranchitos as a whole is a designated farm area with houses sparsely separated by fields. Lower Ranchitos runs from Taos Plaza long the Rio Pueblo de Taos until it meets the Rio Fernando de Taos and Blueberry Hill Road. It is the home of the Historic Martinez Hacienda, which is a living museum, a must visit. It is an area of a mix, not so unique to Taos, of the old adobe homes, but now some manufactured ones as well as many new adobe style homes and a few B&Bs. Here too, you will find much irrigated land and a mix of high end homes, manufactured homes and even trailer homes. This IS Taos after all!
Ranchos de Taos
“Ranchos” as locals call it is most famous for the historic, often photographed and painted St. Francisco de Assisi church situated in its own little Plaza of restaurants, shops, and galleries. The surrounding area of homes is on the national historic registry. Every visitor to the Taos area finds this a must-stop area ; and locals love to observe the annual mudding of the church. This area is truly the Old New Mexico, with its unique mix of ancient adobe homes, many in disrepair, many renovated by the influx of lovers of Taos, while densely populated, somehow the residents were able to eke out little plots of irrigated land by Rio Chiquito and other waterways and plant their crop and put some horses or sheep to graze.
There is upper and lower Vista Linda separated by the arroyo. To get to Upper Vista Linda and its well-spaced housing looking into the Taos Valley, you take Romero Road, either from Highway 240 or Highway 68. For Lower Vista Linda, which is a mushrooming new home area, you take a right on County Highway 110. The first four roads on your right lead into the sage-speckled mesa that is Vista Linda. It is enjoyable to ogle at the variations of adobe architecture. Just as the Weimer area, this is as close as you get to any resemblance of the urban sprawl you are most likely fleeing from, in Taos. Planned subdivision with 1.25 acre lots and certain uniformity of adobe style homes with flat roofs. Enjoy your views!!
Yes, the country club area boasts the fine Country Club and golf course. Not only is the Country Club a recreation area, but it also boasts several art exhibits a year and other social events. Surrounding the Country Club are newer, higher end, designed homes in the modern adobe style. Natural flora is chiefly sage, however one resident boasts an endless parade of local and migrating birds, a bird-watchers paradise. Views to kill for!
West Gorge Bridge
When driving out Highway 64, it seems if there is nothing between the airport and the Gorge Bridge, not even the bridge or the famed Rio Grande gorge. The land is so flat, you literally don’t see the Gorge until you are upon it. Just beyond the Gorge Bridge to the east of the Highway is a growing colony of Earthship houses, some of them quite fanciful and even elegant. They are part of the pioneering Greening of Taos.
North of Highway 522 and west of Highway 150 is the triangular area of Upper Colonias. It is an industrial, business, and a residential area with homes and condominiums. It is a mesa area with predominant sage as ground cover. One side of Hwy 150 is Pueblo Land, the west side, some commercial, Tennis Club, and prevailing uniformity of newer high end adobe style homes. Land is still available for your new home.
You can either get to Lower Los Colonias via Lower Los Colonias Road off Highway 64 or from Blueberry Hill down Straight Arrow Road. It is an undulating mesa area with sage and unobstructed views of the mountain and the mesa. There are newer homes as well as modular homes, and older adobe homes. This area boasts the most variety of home styles ranging from adobe, earthship, railroad cars, manufactured, domes, frame, strawbale, rammed earth, rastra, pumice and some which escape any classification known to the writer. This is one of the few areas offering low land prices.
You can’t help driving through Arroyo Seco as you drive north on the Ski Valley Road. This little village with its galleries, restaurants, and unique shops will charm you. If you’re in town on the Fourth of July, don’t miss their delightful, down-home Fourth of July Parade. The desirable area surrounding Arroyo Seco is fast building up with new homes, yet will always maintain a rural farming charm with the mountains on one side and Pueblo lands on another. Among the eclectic mixture of homes there are many irrigated fields with crops and livestock helping to retain the rural feel of this community.
Des Montes is the area along the Arroyo Seco and Arroyo Hondo roads. It has widely spaced homes, both new and the older rural homes of adobe, frame, Territorial and other styles, typical of northern New Mexico. It includes Arroyos Del Norte Elementary School and some small home businesses. Much irrigated land and meadows is available for farming.
Did you know that Valdez was originally named St. Antonio? However there were already three St. Antonios in New Mexico, and the post office would say “deliver the mail to Sr. Valdez,” the postmaster. Soon the sweet little valley town officially became Valdez. The Rio Hondo runs through Valdez with acequias flowing to water the fields of the many old timer mini-farms and new comer modern homes in the little valley.
Climbing up the mountain on either Deer Mesa Road or upper Gallina Road you’ll discover the newer area of Valdez with its homes and condominiums tucked in the woods and near creeks. It has easy access to the Ski Valley. The stunning views are amazing to behold. Mostly Alpine setting is the area know as Gallina Canyon. You will find a variety of the old adobe village homes, with the influx of new residents, log cabins, adobe and chalet styles a starting to dot the landscape.
A beautiful, scenic drive down the Arroyo Hondo-Arroyo Seco Road to Arroyo Hondo, a pretty town nestled in the fertile Hondo River Valley with its farms, old church, and river view. Across Highway 522, you can keep following the river to explore the historic John Dunn Bridge and the nearby Manby Hot Springs where you can give respite to your body from all of the hiking you must have done... On the hills to the west of Arroyo Hondo, new adobe, conventional and manufactured homes are mushrooming up among the piñons. Much irrigated land still remains in the hands of farmers, so enjoy the sight of crops, sheep and horses and the occasional cow, however land and building sites opportunities are very much available here.
Costilla is the northern most town in Taos County just before the Colorado border. It is worth turning into Costilla to view the historic plaza (built as a fort) and to follow the Rio Costilla up the valley with the homes in the town that follow along the river. You can easily imagine that you have stepped back in time to old New Mexico in this small community. Many ancient adobes dot the landscape, however some in an advanced stage of meltdown.
Driving around the last twist of the mountain road (196) from Costilla, the view into the sweet, settled valley is both picturesque and a travel back in time. In truth, Amalia’s first settlers came into Amalia in 1844, then named Piña, in response to the Sangre de Cristo Land Grant. It became a center of farming and timber. Indeed, the farms and valley with Costilla river in the midst are still worked and well cared for. This is, in view of the Broker, Pavel Lukes, one of the most beautiful valleys in the Rockies and it serves as a gateway to the most pristine wildlife preserve Valle Vidal, a gift to all of us by Pennzoil Co. Over abundance of wildlife is emphasized by the presence of the huge Ted Turner's Vermejo Ranch. Amalia also features the now, defunct Ski Rio ski area which was sold by Dreamcatcher in 2008 to a private investor. Many good buys of homes and land are available in this very area, albeit a bit remote from Town of Taos (1hr).
As you drive north on 522 you come out into open mesa, most of it Taos Pueblo land. The best part is the perfect uninterrupted vistas of the mountains and the mesa. The open space is such a treat to drive through on County road 007. Mostly sage settings, offering unlimited vistas to its numerous residents whom have built a variety of home styles ranging from strawbale, adobe, rammed earth, old railroad cars, manufactured, frame, rastra, pumice, geodesic domes and many others which may not have a name yet.
Taos Ski Valley
Before you even reach Taos Ski Valley, multiple opportunities will present themselves to you for hiking among many trails to choose from, for all levels of ability. The Kit Carson National Forest awaits with an endless array of terrain, views, wildlife and fauna. Soak up the beauty of the mountains, trees, wildlife, waterways, rock formations and always the big blue sky above. Taos Ski Valley was originally known as the community of Twining with trails up into the mountains for valley farmers to drive their livestock for summer fodder. It is now the world renowned Taos Ski Valley with resorts, ski schools, snowboarding, hiking trails, shops, and great ski slopes. Year round it is worth your while to drive up to look at the stunning scenery: golden leaves in autumn, brilliant snow in winter, gorgeous nature in spring and summer, and the flowing, gurgling Rio Hondo all year round. Some ski resorts are manufactured for the masses. This is not one of them. Taos Ski Valley is a rugged, authentic mountain, pioneered by people who put snow sports, outdoor activities and hiking first and all else second. Kachina Peak stands high above the Sangre de Cristo mountain range at 12,481 feet. From here, skiers and boarders survey some of the finest terrain in North America- bone dry powder shots, steep chutes, big bumps, cornices, and glades- it is all here. If heart-stopping terrain is not your thing, you will find miles of well-manicured slopes and gradual groomers to carve up all season long. 2014 season will welcome a brand new ski lift all the way to the top of Kachina Peak, bringing the already impressive vertical drop to over 3,000.00 feet !!! The ownership of TSV has changed hands this year, going from the founding family of the Ski Pioneer Ernie Blake to Mr. Luis Bacon, a New York fund manager. Mr. Bacon's presence has already been felt on a big scale with many renovations, the installation of the new lift and an ambitious long term plan of improvements to make TSV the best ski area in North America. There are many housing opportunities, including ski-in and ski-out properties at prices you can only dream about in other ski resorts. These include many older condominiums, some newer ones and an array of mountain chalets ranging from modest to high end newly constructed contemporary mountain homes of an unprecedented quality and aesthetic value.
Go west on Highway 38 from Questa and you drive into the enchanting town of Red River in its narrow valley home with the Red River curving its way through the valley. A plus is its own ski resort, fishing, hiking, and breathtaking views. It is reminiscent of being in the Swiss Alps, but in New Mexican cowboy style! The housing styles are markedly different from the rest of Taos county as most homes are either mountain style chalets, log homes or more conventional ones reflecting the predominantly Oklahoma - Texas clientele. You can see this influence right away when entering the town which resembles an old frontier settlement strip. Great opportunities for horseback riding!
Go east on highway 64 from Taos Plaza and soon you find yourself winding your way along the Rio Fernando de Taos, which in spring rushes down to join the Rio Grande. All along the canyon you will see campgrounds and resorts like Shady Brook. It is part of the Carson National Forest, so there are hiking trails and fishing opportunities as well. This drive is always a treat as a part of the Enchanted Circle. The highway is dotted along both sides with log homes, adobe homes, manufactured ones as well as with chalets and estate compounds. There are still many opportunities to acquire your piece of land as a building site for your dream home!
Along Taos Canyon, you will notice a road to the right that takes you to the little settlement of Valle Escondido, which is sometimes called the “Hidden Valley". It has a charm of its own in this alpine setting with many log cabins and chalet type homes and a 9 hole golf course. Like the rest of the canyon, there are lovely opportunities for sports, relaxation, and nature watching, not to mention much valley meadow land for your ranch or just a vacation home. Access to the National Forest is all around you with some choice biking trails.
Angel Fire is both a lively community and a Ski Resort, resting in a large basin surrounded by mountains. It is also home to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. From Angel Fire you can ski, hike, boat, fish, golf, camp, listen to concerts, or just rest, enjoying the splendor of the scenery. Just as in Red River the housing styles are markedly different from the rest of Taos county as most homes are either mountain style chalets, log homes or more conventional ones reflecting the predominantly Oklahoma - Texas clientele, with the addition of some contemporary masterpieces. This is an area where you can also find a big ranch for yourselves with many hunting opportunities.