Mountains, river and great art

Trip Start May 09, 2009
Trip End May 27, 2010

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Flag of United States  , New Mexico
Friday, April 30, 2010

We have been in Taos, New Mexico for the last week.  Taos (derived from the native Taos language meaning "place of red willows") is a wonderful town, know for its pueblo, artists colony and the beautiful landscape that includes the Taos Mountains (part of the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range) and the Rio Grande River Gorge.  Culture and nature -- always a great combination.

The weather while we were here was varied - the first couple of days were cold, rainy and very windy, limiting what we could do.  The wind was a continuing factor even after the rain cleared off - apparently windy weather is typical for this time of year.  It's one of the dustiest places we've been.  In fact, last night we could not see the mountains due to the wind/dust storm that had kicked up.

Nevertheless, we were able to enjoy a lot of what Taos had to offer.  We explored many of the galleries and shops around and near the historic plaza and Ledoux Street.  Even though we can't really acquire art right now, we love browsing and this was a perfect place to do that.

One day when the weather was cool but sunny, we took a drive on the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway -- an 85 mile drive that connects Taos and Questa with the resort communities of Red River, Eagle Nest, and Angel Fire. This beautiful drive offers dramatic mountain vistas of aspen and pine in the shadow of 13,161 foot Wheeler Peak, New Mexico’s highest point.  We saw a lot of snow in the upper elevations, since we got to above 9000 feet. 

Ten miles to the northwest of Taos is the Rio Grande Gorge, crossed by the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, a cantilevered truss bridge that is 650 feet above the Rio Grande and is the second highest suspension bridge in the country.  We walked across the bridge (overcoming our fear of heights!!)and had great views of the beautiful Gorge below.  We had planned to hike the Gorge later in the week but weather and spending two days getting our laptop fixed, prevented that. 

On the same day that we saw the bridge, we visited the San Francisco de Asis Church -- a small adobe mission that is designated as a World Heritage site.  Construction began in 1772 and was completed in 1815 by Franciscan monks.  As its name indicates, its patron saint is St. Francis of Assisi.  It is has inspired a great number of depictions, including four paintings by Georgia O'Keeffe and photos by Ansel Adams -- two of our favorite artists.

A few miles north is the Taos Pueblo, one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in North America and another World Heritage site.  The pueblo is known for its multi-storied pueblos and is purported to be the inspiration for the pueblo-style architecture prevalent in this area.  We were lucky enough to visit when the pueblo was celebrating the Santa Cruz Feast Day and performed a "Corn Dance" to bless the fields. However, cameras are not allowed on feast days (photography is limited on other days), so we cannot provide photos for your enjoyment.  But you can see images of the pueblo at this site:

We loved the pueblo architecture in this area and have included a few examples in this entry's photos.  We plan to see a lot more when we go to our next destination today -- Santa Fe,
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