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Picturesque Taos proper unfolds in the midst of a high-desert plateau marked by adobe architecture, an artist-friendly luminosity, and vivid desert landscapes; it’s neighbored by the rustic Ranchos de Taos community to the south, which beckons visitors to its striking mission church. On the north end, Taos runs up against the tail end of the Rockies (it’s less than an hour’s drive south of the Colorado border). This is the site of Taos Ski Valley, where sunny winter days meet champagne powder and some of the country's steepest slopes. On the western side of town, it's all high Sonoran desert and the Rio Grande Gorge and River.

Taos Neighborhoods

Taos Proper

The site of the original Spanish settlement, Taos proper is the hub for the arts community and tourists alike. Historic Taos Plaza serves as the town’s focal point, and is ringed by galleries, restaurants, and shops – several charming, adobe-dotted streets offshoot the old square, and offer a well-preserved glimpse of Taos from days gone by.

Taos Pueblo

This ancient Indian village, situated five miles north of town, lays claim to one of the oldest continuously inhabited structures in the United States, estimated to be some 1,000 years old. The multi-storied adobe complex – a UNESCO World Heritage site – still today provides residence for Tiwa-speaking Taos Pueblo Indian families. The Sangre de Cristo Mountains provide a stunning backdrop to the pueblo.

Taos Ski Valley

While New Mexico might not be the first place you'd think of as a snow destination, the tiny town of Taos is indeed just a stone’s throw from the state’s highest mountain, Wheeler Peak (with an elevation of 13,161 feet) and its surrounding Sangre de Cristo mountain range. The family-run resort – developed by an Austrian immigrant in the 1950s – is renowned for its powdery snow, sun-filled days, challenging terrain, and excellent ski school. Off-season visitors can find relief from the summer heat, ride the chairlift for exceptional mountain views, or attend seasonal festivals and events.

Ranchos de Taos

This sprawling, former farming community provides a rustic outpost for Taos, just a few miles south of Taos proper. The star attraction here is its striking adobe mission church, San Francisco de Asis, said to be one of the most photographed structures in the state – its mission architecture has been captured in the oeuvres of such notables as Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams.

Rio Grande Gorge

The Rio Grande River rages along a spectacular 650-foot-deep gorge to the west of town, making Taos a popular base for white-water rafting trips. The plunging chasm divides sparse, yet beautiful, high Sonoran desert mesas – hiking along the canyon perimeters is a popular pastime. Climb out on the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge for the most mind-blowing (and vertigo-inducing) views of the breathtaking canyon.

Arroyo Seco

En route to Taos Ski Valley, this charming mountain town is worth stopping off in for a stroll, courtesy of its handful of interesting shops (don’t miss Arroyo Seco Mercantile), galleries, and cafes, accompanied by stunning mountain views.

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