Taos/Kit Carson/ Rio Grande Gorge
Trip Start Feb 09, 2013
102Trip End Jun 30, 2013
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We left Bandelier National Monument and drove some of the switchbacks to head north to Taos. The drive to Taos is stunning and I can only imagine what the views are like when snow is on the ground. The Rio Grande flows south along the highway, while the Sangre de Cristo Mountains rise up to the northeast.
The Apaches and Navajos settled here over a thousand years ago. There is also the Taos Pueblo which is the oldest continuously inhabited community as well as being the only UNESCO Living World heritage Site in the US. This pueblo is two miles north of town and permits must be purchased to tour the outside of the buildings as well as camera permit but you cannot take a picture of the Indians
Driving along the road we stopped at the Orillia Verde Recreation Area (this is a National Wildlife Area). The Rio Grande Gorge runs along the highway and a side road where there are about five campground first come right along the river. George and I stopped along the road and took pictures of kayakers and rafters running the rapids on the Rio Grande. The Rio Grande passes through 800 foot chasms of the Rio Grande Gorge here. Class 2 to Class 5 rapids exist in nine different segments encompassing the Upper Rio Grande Gorge and the Lower. One section is called the Taos Box (15 miles) of class 3-5 which takes 6 to 8 hours. The rapids offer the best whitewater in New Mexico through one of the most scenic sections of the Rio Grande Gorge. There is also the Ute Mountain Run (24 miles) and the Class 5 Upper Box (6.5miles). It was fun to watch them move down the river and over some rapids. One yellow short kayak with a guide in it was performing for us by flipping forward into the water and coming back up. It was fun to watch!
We tried to see the San Francisco De Asis Church on Sunday and Monday but both days the parking lot was full because of construction around it and part of the church was roped off
We checked in at our campground Taos Valley RV Park and Campground which I reviewed below. It was nice but Taos is a busy town with traffic. This is a four season town with winter sports, summer hiking and camping, spring rafting trips and the foliage in the fall. It is a nice town but the traffic made it difficult to get to some places and we were there on a Sunday and Monday. There is a big concert outdoors this Thursday with a British band Mountford something and they expect over 11,000 visitors. You will not be able to move – thank goodness we head north tomorrow. There are so many scenic drives around Taos and we will be driving part of the Enchanted Circle heading to Red River and back around. This is the most promoted scenic drive in New Mexico.
Kit Carson married his third wife here and they had a home where their seven children raised in Taos. He and his third wife are buried here and she died at 40 a week after their last child was born. Kit died a month later and left seven young children as orphans. We went into his home and museum which was interesting.
Another important person whose house is also a museum Don Antonio Severino Martinez who was a merchant and priest in the area. The Millicent Rogers Museum is 4 miles north of Taos Plaza she was instrumental in bringing artists and promoting jewelry and black pottery. She is also buried in the historic cemetery with Kit Carson and Martinez but her stone has pottery and jewelry on top of it
The last museum we visited was the Ernest L. Blumenschein Home and Museum. He was an artist who visited Taos after his wheel broke off and loved it so much he convinced his wife to move here. His house has all of the original furnishings in it given by their only daughter in 1962, when she handed over the home to the Historic Societies. Most of these homes and museums are now National Landmarks. He and his wife were both painters and his painting of the local churches and Indian life was outstanding. Most of these museums I could not take pictures. Blumenschein invited artists to visit his home and help to establish Taos as an artist colony.
In the 1960’s hippie communes began springing up in the region’s spectacular high desert country. Dennis Hopper came here to film Easy Rider. He returned here to live his next twelve years and is buried here. Taos is similar to Santa Fe in that there are many art galleries and sculptures outside their shops. Taos Plaza is a square with many shops and restaurants and it is where Kit Carson stapled an American Flag there on a post and has never come down.
It was very hot the two days we were in Taos and there were fires still south of us and some rain. Heading north tomorrow but we might have some rain by Wednesday as we head south again. This area needs rain but the possibility of thunderstorms scares us. We are watching the weather closely for our travels east to head back home.
Sunday, Monday – June 2 & 3 Taos Valley RV Park and Campground, Taos, NM
This campground is right on the main route into Taos and is located right off Estes Road