What city do you live in? What neighborhood?
When the Spanish came to the Taos Valley in 1540, they thought they had discovered the City of Gold. When most people think about New Mexico they think of desert- cactus, sand, hot sun, White Sands, Los Alamos. But there is this mystical area that has attracted artists, writers, historians, and ski bums for decades. Taos is situated just east of the Rio Grande Gorge, and just south of Colorado, at the foot of big, bald Taos Mountain, and the Sangre de Christos (Blood of Christ because they appear red in the sunset) mountains. The town dates back to August 29, 1540, when Capitan Hernando Alvarado as part of the expedition of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado arrived in the Taos Valley for the first time. It’s been the site of bloody massacres, raids, riots, restless souls and countless meditation retreats. Famous American frontiersman Kit Carson lived here, as did literary genius Lawrence and rebellious actor and filmmaker Dennis Hopper
What are some adjectives that describe your neighborhood?
You could describe it as a safe and juniper-sprinkled mystical and magical land. It’s also littered with shooters and potholes and prone to smelling like skunks.
How long have you lived there, and what brought you there?
I moved to Taos one year ago after having my daughter. My husband grew up here and said the land was enchanting and wild. It was a good alternative to Jackson Hole, WY, my hometown, which was becoming too expensive for a young family.
What is your favorite thing about this place? Your least favorite?
I love the sage, hiking trails, rivers and juniper trees. I don’t love the smell of skunks, the wild abandoned dogs and common litter on the streets like beer bottles and shooters. Even though Julia Roberts and Donald Rumsfeld have homes here the county is rather poor and therefore skimps on public education and road and healthcare investments, unfortunately.
Do you feel that you belong there?
I feel a great part of my soul remains in the Tetons, the West and traveling, but I do feel a part of me belongs here, when I explore the canyon and Mesa and trails around the Rio Grande. It’s wild and free, and that speaks to my spirit.
What is the most common misconception about where you live?
A lot of Texans and ski bums come here thinking this is a great tourist town for bumming around or skiing and lots of tourists do come for art galleries and quaint shops, but this place is rugged and wild. The history with the Spanish and native Americans is much more impactful than say whatever character exists in a ski town like Park City. The Taos Pueblo- It’s like a living museum. A village of houses that’s been thriving for 1000 years, Taos Pueblo is the only Native American living community that is designated as both a National Historic Landmark and a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Most of the existing buildings were built between 1000 and 1450 A.D.
What is a special fact about your city that you have to live there to know?
There are many breathtaking waterfalls in New Mexico, but the best in Taos are on El Salto mountain. The El Salto falls have been identified as a possible source of the “Taos Hum”, due to the caves behind the falls that cause the water to echo through the valley.
What aspect of your city do you secretly love?
Black Rock and Stagecoach hot springs are free and natural formed hot springs on the Rio Grande. Located north of town, off HWY 522 and down dirt roads, they may require a high clearance vehicle but are worth the drive. A 15-20 dirt and rock trail down to the river leads to the ruins of an old stagecoach stop and two hot pools right off the river, encompassed by rock and sand. They’re traversed enough to feel safe and familiar but hidden enough to keep a mood of mystery and tranquility. This is a welcome retreat from the fast-paced bustle of downtown in the summer.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Taos Plaza is the vortex of all things Taos. If you only have a couple hours to spend in town, be sure to park by the plaza and walk around the galleries and coffee shops, historical sites, boutiques and local crafts that saturate this small central point. Each Saturday in the summer there’s a farmers market with flowers, pastries, organic produce, herbs and music. A fortune teller will read your palm while a traveling poet will type it a personalized poem on his typewriter. It’s Vienna via the Southwest.
Also there’s the Mabel Dodge Luhan House- Now an inn and meditation center, this historical Pueblo revival was home to artist and patron Mabel Dodge Luhan, who invited famous artists like Georgia O’Keeffe and DH Lawrence to New Mexico for the first time. She’s probably the reason O’Keeffe began painting all her flowers and skulls.