Now it's time for recreation and fun! Check out these websites to get an overall feel for Taos:
HIKING AND BIKING
There are an abundance of hiking and XC ski trails in the Taos area. Pick up a copy of “Day Hikes in the Taos Area” by Kay Matthews for detailed hiking and XC ski trails in the Taos Area.
1) If you have an hour or two, head out to the rest area past the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, and hike or bike along the West Rim trail: It's easy, do as long or short a loop trail as you wish, spectacular views are your reward.
2) If you have more time, you MUST get out to the Wild Rivers Recreation area:
Some 25 miles or minutes north of Taos, it's at the confluence of the Rio Grande River and Red River. Great camp sites, easy or strenuous hiking down into the gorge, a great loop trail (5.5 miles) for easy hiking or biking – all away from the crowds. It's one of our favorite places in the whole area.
Our recommendation is to start at the Phoenix restaurant parking lot:
From the upper parking lot at the Taos Ski Valley, take Twining Road to the Phoenix restaurant parking area, which is the beginning of the trail head. It's a dirt road, at times a little steep, but no problem if you don't have a 4 wheel drive. The very beginning of the trail is wide, and rather rocky: Don't despair, it gets better very soon. Check out some pictures here:
OTHER THINGS TO DO
Soaking it up in Natural Mineral Springs:
You may want to be adventurous and try out the Black Rock Hot Springs outside of Arroyo Hondo (get directions from locals to find it).
A little more "civilized" are the Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs:
The rates are very reasonable, and make sure not to miss the "Milagro Relaxation Wrap" after your soak: 25 minutes for $12 – it's worth every penny of it!The best way to get to Ojo Caliente:
From Taos, head out on US 64 to the Gorge, pass it, and about 4/10 of a mile after, on your left side, there is a newly paved road, indicated by the green road sign that says "Pilar". Take that road – it runs parallel to the gorge (and the west rim trail). It goes for about 8 or 9 miles until you hit another paved road. Then take a right turn (it says: Carson), and after a few miles, you'll run into US 285. Take a left turn, and soon you're down in Ojo Caliente – and you saved yourself the long way over Tres Piedras...
A FUN DRIVE AROUND TAOS
This is our own custom tailored "Experience New Mexico at its best" drive around Taos.
You can do it in 2 to 3 hours, but much better would be planning on 3 to 4 hours, or even more.
Head north on US 64. At the "old blinking light" (which is now the big intersection of US 64, Hwy 522, and 150), take a right turn onto Hwy 150, heading for the Taos Ski Valley. In Arroyo Seco, take a left turn right at the "Abominable Snowmansion".
You're now on the "Hondo-Seco" Road. Very soon you come to Hwy 230: cross it, and continue south on the Hondo Seco Road. It drops down, leads back to the left, until eventually you reach the main Highway again (522).
Take a left turn back to Taos, and you'll be back at the the "old blinking light" in no time. This time, take a right turn, onto US 64. Drive 7 miles to the Rio Grande Gorge.
Stop after the bridge and walk on the side of the road to the middle of the bridge or so, so that you'll get the feel for the incredible depth. Hop back into your car and stop on your left at the rest area: it has a spectacular view back to the gorge and you can take an easy 15 minute walk to the bench on the west rim trail.
Continue on about 4/10 of a mile after the bridge – where there is a sign on the right side of the road says "Pilar, Ojo Caliente", take a left turn onto the newly paved Rim Road. Drive about 6 to 8 miles on that road, parallel to the gorge, until you hit the T-Junction.
Take a LEFT turn down to Pilar - slow down, and be careful: before you know it, it's a dirt road, and it drops down, rather steep, all the way down into the gorge! It's a breathtaking drive. No worries, you don't need a 4 wheel drive.
When you reach the river, there are camp sites, picnic areas (have you brought your lunch?), and then, turn to your right and follow the river (it is paved again now) all the way to Pilar, where you intersect with the main Highway (68).
Take a left turn, and before you know it, you're almost back in Taos.
If you still have energy left, also stop in Ranchos de Taos, at the San Francisco de Assisi church, made famous through Georgia O'Keefe's painting:
And now you'd want to head back to Artemisia and tell us about your day...