No Northern New Mexico experience is complete without a visit to Taos Pueblo.
A quick 3 miles from the center of the modern city of Taos, Taos Pueblo boasts multi-story adobe homes that have been inhabited for more than 1,000 years. The Pueblo has the distinction of being the only living Native American community designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as a National Historic Landmark.
The pueblo has a strong visual draw: Window frames painted blue create a stunning contrast against the light brown walls of multi-story adobe buildings, which themselves stand before dramatic mountains and under a blue sky. A sparking river – the Rio de Pueblo de Taos – divides the pueblo into north and south regions.
But there are also cultural draws. Here, artisans create beautiful jewelry made of stone and corn kernels as well as intricate carvings, multi-use crockery and delicious breads and cookies using skills passed down through generations. Shops have been set up in traditional family homes.
Visitors are invited to witness feast days and various pueblo celebrations such as the annual Pueblo Pow-Wow in July, the springtime Santa Clara Feast Day and the autumn San Geronimo Feast Day.
According to guide and artist Robert Cafazzo, men and boys from the northern side of the pueblo traditionally race men and boys from the southern side during the Santa Clara Feast Day celebration as a way to wake up the earth. The groups race again during the San Geronimo Feast Day celebration to put the earth back to sleep, he says.
Cafazzo offers private guided tours of the pueblo, but his wealth of local knowledge makes him the perfect guide to show visitors anything that interests them – from wild edible plants to artwork to unparalleled hikes along the Rio Grande Gorge.
Cafazzo also owns the Two Graces Plaza Gallery, which features books, jewelry made of found items and a host of other unique items, just off St. Francis Plaza and steps from the famed San Francisco de Asis Church in Ranchos de Taos.
It is a good idea to review the pueblo’s rules before making the trip.
Visiting times: The pueblo is generally open from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. from Monday through Saturday and from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. However, visitors should check the pueblo website for any announcements about closures.
Cafazzo’s pro tip: Arrive early in the morning rather than later in the day.
Photography is allowed, however with some restrictions. Photos are for personal use only, and permission must be obtained to capture images for commercial, documentary or educational use. Permission must also be obtained to create artist renderings and to take photos with tribal members. Photography is not allowed on feast days.
Photos are not allowed inside San Geronimo, or St. Jerome, Chapel.
Fees: There are different admission fees for adults, students and groups. Children under 10 years old may enter free. See more.
Respect: There are certain buildings and areas designated as closed to visitors. Similarly, do not enter residences unless they are marked also as businesses. Please respect these restrictions and the privacy of pueblo residents.
But, please talk with artisans and let them share their stories with you. Find out from whom they learned their crafts and why they continue the tradition.
Cafazzo’s pro tip: Good bread from the pueblo makes excellent bread pudding.
Location: Taos Pueblo is a short drive from the center of Taos.
Whether the beauty, the history, the culture – or a combination of all three – sparks your interest in visiting Taos Pueblo, your experience there will be unforgettable.
Visit Taos Pueblo online at taospueblo.com.
Taos visitors can stay at two Heritage Hotels & Resorts properties while they’re in town. Palacio de Marquesa is an 8-room luxury inn celebrating the contributions and spirit of some extraordinary women artists who called Taos home. El Monte Sagrado Living Resort and Spa is a luxury resort featuring The Living Spa.