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23 Fun Things To Do in Taos, New Mexico

23 Fun Things To Do in Taos, New Mexico: Ultimate Guide

Nestled in the high desert of New Mexico, Taos offers a vibrant tapestry of Spanish Colonial and Native American histories, a dynamic art scene, breathtaking landscapes, and an array of outdoor adventures. This guide highlights 21 fun activities that capture the spirit and charm of Taos, ensuring visitors of all interests can find something memorable to explore. Let’s dig in!





Table of Contents

About Taos, New Mexico: Fast Facts

Perched in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains’ foothills, Taos is a gem of the American Southwest, steeped in natural beauty and rich history. This small town is more than just a scenic spot; it’s a crossroads of culture, art, and adventure.

Elevation: At 6,969 feet above sea level, Taos stands amidst high desert terrain.

Population: With around 6,000 inhabitants, Taos is a close-knit community.

Cultural Heritage: Taos is known for its Puebloan roots, Spanish colonial architecture, and a long-standing reputation as an artist colony.

Art Scene: The town is famous for its historic art colonies, which have been home to artists like Georgia O’Keeffe. Today, Taos continues to thrive as an arts hub, with numerous galleries, studios, and festivals.

Outdoor Recreation: Surrounded by the great outdoors, Taos is an unrivaled destination for hiking, skiing, and rafting.

Climate: Expect cool, snowy winters and warm, pleasant summers. The area enjoys over 300 days of sunshine a year, making it perfect for year-round exploration.

Cuisine: Taos boasts an exciting culinary scene, with a focus on Southwestern flavors. Don’t miss the chance to try the local chile.

As a place of convergence for history buffs, art lovers, and outdoor enthusiasts, Taos provides a setting where every visit can turn into an extraordinary experience. Whether you’re drawn by the call of the mountains, the allure of the galleries, or the taste of fiery chile, Taos holds a discovery for every traveler.





23 Fun Things To Do in Taos, New Mexico

Things To Do in Taos

From the historic streets lined with art galleries to the majestic peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Taos is a place where culture, history, and nature converge to offer a unique Southwestern experience.

1. Dive into the Local Art Scene

Stroll through the downtown area to discover a plethora of art galleries showcasing local and international artists. The vibrant arts scene reflects the town’s rich cultural heritage and contemporary creativity. Read More





2. Check out the Historic Taos Plaza

The heart of Taos, the Plaza, is surrounded by shops, galleries, and restaurants. It’s a perfect spot to experience the local vibe, attend seasonal events, and shop for unique souvenirs. Read More

3. Take a Tour of the Taos Pueblo

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Taos Pueblo is a living Native American community with structures over 1,000 years old. Guided tours offer insight into its history and culture. Read More

4. Eat some Hatch Chiles

No visit to New Mexico is complete without tasting its famous Hatch chilies. Find them in local dishes across Taos, from enchiladas to burgers, adding a flavorful kick to your meals. Read More





5. Go for a Hike in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains

The surrounding mountains offer trails for all skill levels, from gentle walks to challenging hikes. Enjoy stunning views and the tranquility of nature. Here are a few hikes to consider in the area:

Williams Lake Trail
  1. Williams Lake Trail: This moderate hike is one of the most popular in the Taos area, leading to the stunning Williams Lake. Nestled in the Wheeler Peak Wilderness, it’s about 4 miles round trip and offers breathtaking alpine scenery. Read More
  2. South Boundary Trail: A lengthy and more challenging option, this 22-mile trail is considered one of the best mountain bike trails in the country, but it’s also a fantastic hike. It takes you through a beautiful section of the Carson National Forest with varied terrain. Read More
  3. Devisadero Loop Trail: A 5.7-mile loop trail that provides a good workout along with impressive views of Taos and the surrounding valley. It’s accessible from the edge of town and is a favorite among locals for its convenience and vistas. Read More

6. Skiing or Snowboarding at Taos Valley Ski Resort

With challenging slopes and an average of 300 inches of snow annually, Taos Valley Ski Resort is a haven for winter sports enthusiasts. Other options include Angel Fire and Red River Ski areas. Read More

7. Stargazing at Night

The clear skies around Taos provide an exceptional backdrop for stargazing. Join a guided night sky tour or simply marvel at the Milky Way from a dark spot outside town. Read More





8. Visit the Taos Art Museum

Housed in the former home of Russian artist Nicolai Fechin, the museum displays works by the Taos Society of Artists and other influential figures in Taos’s art history. Read More

9. Find a Dispersed Campsite

For a true outdoor adventure, seek out a dispersed camping site in the Carson National Forest surrounding Taos. Enjoy the wilderness under the stars. Read More

10. Check out the Kit Carson Home And Museum

Explore the 19th-century home of the legendary frontiersman Kit Carson, learning about his life and the history of the American West. Read More

11. Visit the Harwood Museum of Art

Delve into the region’s art history with collections that span from traditional Native American art to contemporary pieces reflecting the diverse culture of Taos. Read More





12. Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument

Experience the dramatic landscapes of the Rio Grande Gorge, with opportunities for hiking, fishing, and whitewater rafting. Read More

13. Climb a 13er like Wheeler Peak

Challenge yourself with a hike up Wheeler Peak, New Mexico’s highest point, for breathtaking views across the state. Read More

14. Horseback riding in the mountains

Explore the scenic beauty of Taos on horseback, with guided tours available for all levels of experience. Read More

15. Go to a local brewery

Sample craft beers and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of Taos’s breweries, offering a range of styles from IPAs to stouts. Read More





16. Enchanted Circle Drive

Take a scenic drive around the Enchanted Circle, witnessing stunning landscapes, quaint towns, and the highest peak in New Mexico. Read More

17. La Hacienda del los Martinez

Step back in time at this late 18th-century hacienda, offering a glimpse into the life of Spanish colonial settlers. Read More

18. San Francisco de Asis Catholic Mission Church

An architectural masterpiece, this historic church is known for its beautiful adobe contours and has been a subject of paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe. Read More

19. Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

Walk across one of the highest bridges in the United States, offering awe-inspiring views of the Rio Grande Gorge below. Read More

20. Shop for Native American Crafts

Discover exquisite Native American jewelry, pottery, and textiles at local shops and markets, each piece telling a story of tradition and craftsmanship. Read More





21. Imagine Children’s Museum

A perfect destination for families, offering interactive exhibits that inspire creativity and learning among children. Read More

22. Play Poker at the Casino

Test your luck at the Taos Mountain Casino, offering a cozy and smoke-free environment to enjoy slots, table games, and poker. Read More

23. Enjoy a Day at the Spa

Relax and rejuvenate with a spa day, choosing from a variety of treatments that incorporate local ingredients and traditional techniques. Read More





5 Great Day Trips Near Taos

Located in northern New Mexico, Taos is within a two-hour drive of multiple cities, mountains, national parks, and other destinations worth your time. Here are five day trips I highly recommend for those visiting Taos, New Mexico.

1. Santa Fe, New Mexico

Just an hour and a half drive away, Santa Fe boasts an equally rich cultural scene, historic sites, and an array of galleries and restaurants. It’s home to the state capitol building, museums, and more. Read More

2. Angel Fire Ski Resort

A resort town offering year-round outdoor activities, from skiing in the winter to mountain biking in the summer. Read More

3. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

Best Hikes near Great Sand Dunes National Park

Explore the tallest sand dunes in North America, a surreal landscape that seems out of place in the Rocky Mountains. Read More

4. Blanca Peak, Colorado 14er

Climb a Colorado 14er, Blanca Peak, 90 minutes north of Taos. Towering over the San Luis Valley, the peak is also one of the four sacred mountains of the Navajo people. Read More

5. The High Road to Taos

A scenic byway that winds through the mountains, offering stunning views, quaint villages, and historic churches along the way. Read More

The Rich History of Taos, New Mexico

In the heart of New Mexico’s high desert, Taos’s story unfolds across millennia, from ancient nomads leaving behind timeless artifacts to the enduring legacy of the Taos Pueblo, one of America’s oldest continuously inhabited communities. Constructed between 1000 and 1450 A.D., its adobe structures stand tall, a testament to a resilient culture.

The 16th century brought Spanish conquistadors, seeking fabled gold but finding a rich cultural tapestry instead. This encounter sparked centuries of conflict and cooperation, with Taos Pueblo at the heart of resistance against Spanish and later U.S. dominance. By the 19th century, Taos navigated its way through rebellion and into the American fold, its flag flying continuously as a symbol of its complex history.

The 20th century transformed Taos into a cultural haven, starting with artists Bert Phillips and Ernest Blumenschein’s serendipitous arrival and the establishment of the Taos Art Colony. Mabel Dodge Luhan’s patronage further cemented Taos as a nexus for creative minds like Georgia O’Keeffe and D.H. Lawrence. Meanwhile, the development of Taos Ski Valley and the construction of the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge propelled Taos into a new era of accessibility and outdoor recreation.

The 1960s and 70s saw Taos embrace counterculture, culminating in the historic return of Blue Lake to Taos Pueblo, a significant act of Native American sovereignty. The designation of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in 2015 highlighted Taos’s natural splendor, preserving its landscapes for future generations.

Learn More





Getting There

Here are some options for travelling to Taos, New Mexico by plane, train, or automobile:

Flying: The nearest airports with commercial fights are Santa Fe Airport (100 miles away) and Albuquerque (160 miles away).

Train: Both cities also have train stops along New Mexico’s commuter rail service, The Rail Runner.

Bus: Bus shuttle service is available at the Santa Fe Railyard District Station to Toas, running Thursday through Sunday.

Driving: Taos is located along U.S. Route 64 east-west. State Road 68 heads south from town towards Santa Fe, while State Road 522 heads north towards Colorado and the San Luis Valley.

Do you need a car in Taos?

While Taos is a relatively small town, having a car is beneficial for exploring the wider area, especially if you plan to visit the surrounding natural attractions or embark on day trips. Transit options are limited in town





Is Uber available in Taos?

Both Uber and Lyft are available for ride-shares in the Taos, New Mexico area. It may be more challenging to secure a ride if you are staying in the mountains closer to the ski resort.

Map of Taos

Use this map of Taos and the surrounding area to plan your next visit to this spectacular part of New Mexico.

Climate in Taos, New Mexico

Taos enjoys a high desert climate, with warm summers, cold winters, and over 300 days of sunshine per year. This climate creates ideal conditions for a variety of outdoor activities throughout the year.

Here are some monthly weather averages to get a better idea of the weather.

MonthAvg High Temp (°F)Avg Low Temp (°F)Avg Rainfall (inches)Avg Snowfall (inches)Avg Daylight (hours)
January41100.67.610.0
February46160.55.611.0
March54240.85.312.0
April62300.82.413.0
May72381.00.414.0
June82461.00.014.5
July86521.50.014.5
August83501.90.013.5
September77431.40.012.5
October66321.20.711.5
November52210.83.910.5
December42120.78.010.0

Data Source: NOAA

When is the best time to visit Taos?

The best time to visit Taos depends on your interests. Summer offers hiking, festivals, and art events, while winter is perfect for skiing and snowboarding. Fall and spring provide milder weather and fewer crowds, along with the beauty of changing seasons.

Weather Forecast for Taos





Where to Eat in Taos, NM

Taos boasts a diverse culinary scene, from traditional New Mexican cuisine to innovative contemporary dishes. Here are top picks for a memorable dining experience:

  1. Parcht – A chill wine bar offering tapas, salads and charcuterie in a stylish atmosphere.
  2. The Love Apple – Offers a farm-to-table experience in a quaint, historic setting.
  3. La Cueva Cafe – A small cafe with authentic Mexican cuisine popular with locals.
  4. Michael’s Kitchen – Ideal for breakfast or brunch, the menu is tongue-in-cheek and the space is laid back and casual.

Where to Stay in Taos, NM

Looking for a hotel or place to spend the night in the Taos area? You have dozens of fantastic options to choose from. Here are some lodging options in the area you will love!

1. Hotel La Fonda de Taos

Situated on the historic Taos Plaza, Hotel La Fonda de Taos offers guests a chance to stay in one of the oldest hotels in Taos. This hotel is perfect for art lovers, as it houses the D.H. Lawrence Forbidden Art collection and is steps away from the Taos Art Museum and other galleries. Its central location allows for easy exploration of downtown Taos.

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2. The Historic Taos Inn

Ideal for those who appreciate history and local culture, The Taos Inn boasts a rich history dating back over a century. Located in the heart of Taos, it offers easy access to galleries, shops, and restaurants. Its Adobe Bar is famous for live music and a vibrant atmosphere, making it a great choice for travelers looking to experience the social life of Taos.

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3. Sagebrush Inn & Suites

A great choice for families and groups, the Sagebrush Inn & Suites combines Southwestern charm with modern amenities. Offering spacious rooms and suites, some with fireplaces and private patios, the inn provides a cozy base for exploring Taos and its surroundings. With on-site dining, a heated pool, and live entertainment, it caters to guests looking for a full-service experience.

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4. Taos Valley Lodge

For budget-conscious travelers, the Taos Valley Lodge offers comfortable accommodations without breaking the bank. Its convenient location makes it a great base for outdoor enthusiasts looking to explore the nearby ski resort, hiking trails, and natural attractions. The lodge provides a simple, no-frills stay with essential amenities, ensuring a comfortable visit to Taos.

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Find Lodging in Taos, New Mexico:

 

Remember: Leave No Trace in Taos

Taos and the surrounding national forests host hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. Help preserve the town’s character and the rich ecosystem in the area by following Leave No Trace practices. Here are some reminders to keep in mind during your visit.

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare: Before venturing into the wilderness around Taos, research the area you plan to visit. Understand the local regulations, weather conditions, and cultural sensitivities, especially when visiting sacred sites like Taos Pueblo or protected areas like the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces: Stick to established trails and campsites. The desert and mountain environments are fragile; veering off the path can damage soil and plant life. When camping, look for spots that have been used before to avoid impacting untouched land.
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly: Pack out all trash, leftover food, and litter. In areas without toilet facilities, such as the backcountry near Taos, bury human waste in a small hole 6-8 inches deep and at least 200 feet from water sources, trails, and camp sites. Carry out all toilet paper and hygiene products.
  4. Leave What You Find: Preserve the past for future generations by not touching cultural or historical structures and artifacts. This includes the beautiful petroglyphs and pottery shards you may find in the area. Additionally, leave rocks, plants, and other natural objects as you find them.
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts: Taos and its surrounding areas are prone to wildfires. Use established fire rings, keep fires small, or use a portable stove for cooking. Always check local fire regulations before starting a fire and ensure your fire is completely extinguished before leaving.
  6. Respect Wildlife: Observe wildlife from a distance and do not feed them. Feeding animals damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers. Secure your food and trash to protect wildlife and your campsite.
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors: Respect other users of the outdoors. Keep noise levels down to let everyone enjoy the tranquility of nature. Yield to other users on the trail and take breaks on durable surfaces off the trail to let others pass.

FAQs

If I haven’t addressed your question below already, leave a comment and I will get you and answer and more information as soon as possible.

Q: Is Taos, New Mexico worth visiting?

A: Absolutely. Taos offers a unique blend of cultural, historical, and natural attractions unlike anywhere else.

A: Start with a visit to the Taos Pueblo, explore downtown galleries, enjoy local cuisine, and end your day with a sunset hike or stargazing.

A: A minimum of three days is recommended to explore the main attractions, though a week allows for a more relaxed pace and deeper exploration.

A: Taos is famous for its historic pueblo, vibrant arts scene, stunning landscapes, and rich cultural history.

A: Taos is known for its New Mexican cuisine, especially dishes featuring Hatch chilies, blue corn, and pinto beans.

A: June through September for warm weather activities, and December through March for winter sports.

A: Both offer unique experiences. Taos is smaller and more intimate, while Santa Fe provides a broader array of cultural attractions.

A: Costs can vary. While there are luxury options, Taos also offers many affordable accommodations, dining, and activities.

A: Yes, Taos Plaza is considered the downtown area, surrounded by historic landmarks, galleries, shops, and restaurants.

Things To Do in Taos: Now You Know!

Taos, New Mexico, is a destination that offers something for everyone, from art lovers and history buffs to outdoor adventurers and foodies. With its unique blend of cultures, stunning landscapes, and vibrant community, Taos invites visitors to explore its many treasures.

Whether you’re seeking inspiration, adventure, or a peaceful retreat, you’ll find it in the heart of the Southwest.





Additional Resources

Want to continue your research? Here are some additional websites and articles about fun things to do in Taos, New Mexico. If you know of any resources we should add to the list, leave them in a comment and we may add them during our next article update.





Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.





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In 2018, I watched in disbelief as dozens of people hiked into a storm on Longs Peak, unaware of the extreme danger. Soon after, I started The Next Summit to educate and empower the public to safely and responsibly explore America's mountains.

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