A living Pueblo!! For me this was by far one of the most fascinating places on our latest trip to the Southwest! I felt so honored to be on this sacred land where we literally stepped back into a simpler time, to one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the US. In the mid 90’s the Pueblo had been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Taos Pueblo is said to have been here long before Columbus discovered America. Ancient ruins indicate that the Taos people lived on this land nearly 1000 years ago and that the main parts of reservation were most likely constructed between 1000 and 1450 A.D!! How amazing that we can walk in such a special place here in the states and take it all in? That we can step inside these buildings which were made by these people’s ancestors simply from earth mixed with water and straw, and that they have been preserved in their original state all these years later.
The pueblo sits on 99,000 acres with an elevation of 7,200 feet! As if the Pueblos themselves weren’t gorgeous enough, they have the snow capped Sangre de Cristo & Taos Mountains as their backdrop. These stunning mountains are not only beautiful, but serve as the main headwaters to the community. The water flows directly from the ranges into the reservation through a small creek which runs through the middle of the land known as Red Willow Creek. It is said that the Taos people originally fled here during a drought in the Four Corners Region in search of a more reliable water source. They ask when you visit the Pueblo not to touch the river as it still remains their source of drinking water.
The Taos Pueblos which is northernmost of the nineteen New Mexico Pueblos are said to be some most private, secretive, and conservative of the pueblos. There are 150 people who live on the pueblo full time. Others have homes both outside and inside the pueblo. The pueblo stays true to it’s roots and remains working without electricity and running water. The Pueblo is open to the public during posted hours but can close without notice for spiritual community events and funerals so definitely call before you head over. You must keep in mind that this isn’t mainly a tourist attraction, rather an invitation into these people’s homes and a glimpse into their daily lives. It’s absolutely incredible. I had recently found out a biological grandfather of mine was 100% Native American so learning about the culture first hand was so appreciated.
The majority (90%) of the Taos Pueblo community are baptized as Roman Catholics. San Geronimo is the patron saint of the pueblo and their gorgeous white church is named after him. You are allowed to enter and can light a candle for $1, but they kindly ask no photos be taken inside the church. Don’t miss a photo outside especially with the mountains in the background.
Many in the pueblo sell their artwork and wares….dream catchers, beaded jewelry, paintings and drawings. We spoke with all of them and they were all super sweet and willing to share their family’s story so don’t be afraid to ask.
There are also a few cafes which are not to be missed. You must try traditional fry bread. It’s is served with the option to add honey, cinnamon and powdered sugar or eat plain as is. We tried it both ways, and it’s delicious! Also grab a cup of piñon coffee which is indigenous to the area. It’s made from the piñon nut and is quite amazing. Rich and smooth. Different than your normal cup of coffee. I had mine iced on a hot day and looked for it elsewhere the reminder of our time in NM. It’s soooo good!!
They offer 20-30 minute tours every 20 minutes starting at 9am which come with price of admission. The tour guides, many whom which are college students do not earn an hourly wage and depend on tips so being some cash. You can do it self-guided with the brochure if time doesn’t allow or you have kiddos in tow. My children who were admitted free entry because they are under the age of 10 very much enjoyed roaming the property, climbing the ladder, petting the dogs, watching the bead-workers, and shopping a bit.
When we were here we ran into folks from The New Mexico Tourism Board who were giving a tour to, and taking photos of an honorable chief that played a huge role in the protest against the Dakota pipeline, a cause that became very near and dear to our hearts after we visited that region on a trip last summer. It was great meeting, and speaking with him. He sang traditional songs and gave an inspiring speech as he stood on the bridge over the river. This was an unexpected added bonus to our visit, one I am very grateful for.