Delivery alert

There may be an issue with the delivery of your newspaper. This alert will expire at NaN. Click here for more info.

Recover password

Downtime in Taos

When it comes to winter and Taos, the first thing on most people’s minds is Taos Ski Valley.

The renowned ski area known for its deep, fluffy powder and long sheer runs draws ski and snowboard enthusiasts from around the globe.

trav00_jd_10jan_TaosBut there are plenty of other attractions to make Taos a first-rate spot for a visit.

Taos Pueblo (, with its distinctive, multi-layered, adobe homes that can climb as high as five stories,, is among visitors’ favorites, said Karina Armijo, Taos director of marketing and tourism.

“The pueblo is the first thing on everyone’s list,” she said.

Constructed from between 1000 and 1450 A.D., many of its walls are several feet thick. About 150 residents live in the pueblo full-time, where no electricity or running water is permitted.

“We’re known for being a living community and an art community,” pueblo tourism director Ilona Spruce said of the area that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. “People come from all over the world just to see out community.”

About 100,000 visitors annually take the 30- to 40-minute tour, she said.

“We’ve been inhabiting the Taos Valley area for quite some time and we’re fortunate to maintain our original homeland,” Spruce said. “But we also open up our community to the world to share our story. Our big push is education. It’s not a museum. It’s not Disneyland. You’re not going to be able to walk through homes. It’s like going into somebody’s neighborhood.”

The Harwood Museum of Art of the University of New Mexico (, founded 90 years ago, is the state’s second-oldest museum and chronicles of the history of the area as an art Mecca, said Juniper Manley, the museum director of development.

“The focus is on the 100 years of art works, of art made in the northern New Mexico,” she said. “It captures the history of the Taos Art Colony.”

Among the many permanent displays is an extensive collection of santos and other religiously significant pieces, Manley said.

And famed artist Agnes Martin, who called Taos home, has a number of works on display in the Harwood, Manley said.

“It’s a destination for people worldwide to see that space,” she said.

Traveling exhibits are also a big part of the museum, with the current “Pressing Through Time” examining work from Martin as well as Peter Moran, Howard Cook and Gene Kloss. It ends Jan. 24, but will be replaced Feb. 13 by “John De Puy: Painter of the Apocalyptic Volcano of the World.”

The Rio Grande Gorge looking north from Taos Gorge Bridge. (Dean Hansen/Journal)

The Rio Grande Gorge looking north from Taos Gorge Bridge. (Dean Hansen/Journal)

The dramatic Rio Grande Gorge and its famous span are works of art both natural and man-made. The gorge, carved over millennia by the mighty Rio Grande, is a spectacle of rugged colors.

The Gorge is the centerpiece of the relatively recently proclaimed Rio Grande del Norte National Monument ( Covering 242,500 acres of canyons, wild and scenic rivers and volcanic cones, the monument provides a key area for wintering animals.

The bridge ( is the second-highest on the U.S. highway system, resting 650 feet above the Rio Grande.

Just down the road from the bridge, the Earthship Biotecture development ( welcomes visitors to see how sustainable building works in practice.

There’s a visitors center and people are welcome to drive through the neighborhood as well as check out the sustainable development testing site,” said Kirsten Jacobsen, education director. “It’s a completely of – the-grid test site.”

There are currently 70 homes in the subdivision with room for another 60, she said. For those who are particularly interested, nightly rentals are available.