Long renowned for its art, this mountain town blossoms in the summer, with beautiful hikes and alfresco eats. Christopher Hall explores the Southwestern town.
Home sweet puebloSilhouetted against the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the Taos Pueblo, a multistory adobe dwelling, captivated Spanish explorers, inspired countless artists, and helped draw generations of travelers looking to experience the Native American culture of the Southwest. The pueblo, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, lies a little northeast of the center of town. For historical insight, join a college student–led tour of the complex.
Lake views and lederhosenNorth of town, Taos Ski Valley draws nature lovers with hiking and equestrian trails. Ride Lift 4 to the 11,200-foot level for a view of 12,481-foot Kachina Peak. Outside the ski area, Williams Lake Trail, a moderate 4-mile round-trip jaunt, offers views that call to mind The Sound of Music. To feel truly transported to the Alps, pick up the trail near The Bavarian Lodge & Restaurant, where lederhosen- and dirndl-clad servers deliver frosty steins of Hofbrau Haus beer.
Inspired eatsAt El Meze, Frederick Muller—a 2014 James Beard semifinalist whose love of chiles brought him to New Mexico—creates comfort food that departs from the Southwest standards dominating Taos’s culinary scene. The regionally inspired, seasonal menu may include buffalo short ribs adovada or tender beef oxtails in a pool of broth studded with horno chicos (oven-dried corn kernels). In the summer, dining moves from inside the 1847 adobe house to a tented patio, the better to see the distant peaks.
Art History 101Just down the road, another historic home holds treasure of a different sort: the Taos Art Museum at Fechin House. Inside the 1933 adobe, built by Russian émigré artist Nicolai Fechin, the walls are hung with luminous landscapes and intimate portraits by artists who began flocking to Taos in the early 20th century, establishing the town’s reputation as a creative hub that attracted Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams. Equally riveting are the wooden columns, doors, and furniture, which Fechin carved, adorning them with Russian sunflowers and New Mexican pinecones. Nearby, The Harwood Museum of Art showcases works that span the history of art in northern New Mexico. Don’t miss An Enduring Appeal: The Taos Society of Artists, a special exhibition commemorating the centennial of the early collective that put Taos on the national art map; it runs through September 7.
A story-filled shopWith 50-plus galleries, Taos is an arts mecca. At Kimosabé, an antiques shop near the downtown plaza, collectors gravitate toward Pueblo pottery, Navajo textiles, and Hopi katsinas. You’ll also find more eclectic goods, like original lobby cards from a silent cowboy movie and a mounted jackalope head. “We get our stuff from everywhere, but most everything we sell was owned previously. It all has a story,” says co-owner Robin Rew.