After spending a couple of great days in Santa Fe, NM, we headed about 70 miles north to the small town of Taos. This was my first time visiting Taos, and before arriving, I really knew nothing about it. What a beautiful and adorable place! The town has a great mixture of art, culture, history and overall “outdoorsyness,” all with a very Southwestern vibe to it.
During our stay in Taos, we parked the bus at an RV park called Monte Bello. This was a great location, not only because it was not 10 minutes from town, but because the scenery was beautiful. We really had an uninterrupted view of the surrounding mountains.
The town of Taos is really small, but there’s a lot to see there. The heart of downtown is the Taos Plaza, which was originally built over 300 years ago by Spanish colonists, but is now a square full of shops, galleries and restaurants. Not far from the plaza are the John Dunn shops, which is a small, pedestrian street with similar establishments. There is often live music and food vendors on the streets. I love that kind of atmosphere, but I’m not really a shopper so I didn’t linger there too long.
As far as shooting opportunities go, there’s a lot of really interesting historical buildings that are EXTREMELY photogenic. We’re talking centuries-old adobe-style architecture. We learned that a lot of these places were stops on the “High Road to Taos,” which is a very popular route that many folks take from Santa Fe to Taos. We went in the opposite direction (Taos to Santa Fe) and spent the day shooting the old churches and sanctuaries along the way.
The San Francisco de Asis Mission Church is probably one of the most photographed churches in the U.S. and it’s not far from downtown Taos. It was built between 1772 and 1816 and you can literally see the hay that was used in the construction of the walls. I spent a while shooting here. I’d take this over those modern churches with their flashy, ornate fixtures any day! (And I can’t help but think that this church would be great to lightpaint one night.)
Restaurant tip for the Road to Taos: The scenic road to Taos pretty much starts in the town of Española. (In our case, it ended there, because we were driving in the opposite direction.) We were pretty hungry when we arrived so we did a Yelp search for nearby places. Pretty much all of the places were Mexican, but this one has pretty great reviews. It’s called El Paragua, and it was AWESOME. The atmosphere was very warm and the food was just amazing. We’ve been to a lot of Mexican places, but I’ve got to say that this was one of my favorites. Everything had a lot of flavor, and our fajita dishes includes all the delicious fixin’s we could hope for. On a side note, I just love that New Mexico gets salsa right every time. It doesn’t matter what restaurant we go to… the salsa is always fresh and really spicy, the way salsa should be!
While I’m talking about restaurants, there’s another place in Taos that we just loved. It’s called the Love Apple and the building is a converted old church. It was just adorable, and it’s one of those places where there’s not a lot on the menu, but everything on there is just delicious and unique. This is definitely a “date night” kind of place, with a very quaint atmosphere. We didn’t realize that we should have made reservations, so they let us order drinks and a cheese plate while we waited on their patio.
There were a few more interesting things we did while in Taos, one of which was to visit the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, which was just a few miles from our RV park. It was pretty impressive to see because it’s 650 feet above the Rio Grande, making it the fifth highest bridge in the U.S. We also visited the local Earthship community, which is a neighborhood made up radically sustainable buildings made up of recycled materials. What a funky place! It’s fascinating that they can build these things and even more fascinating that their yearly utility bills average at $100.! It was fun to see, but the entry fee was a little extreme. I think it was more than $10. per person, and you get to watch two videos, the interior of one building and the exterior of another.
We stopped at one more great photography location between Santa Fe and Taos, but I think I’ll leave that for its own blog post. More to come…