While in the Southwest we wanted to visit a pueblo. Like Sedona, I last explored a pueblo in the Southwest when I was six years old. Brian and I quickly decided on Taos Pueblo because of it’s proximity to Santa Fe and because it is one of the oldest continually inhabited communities in the United States, which is currently over a whopping 1,000 years!
The Taos Pueblo is 1 hr and 30 min from Santa Fe. A good portion of the drive is a very scenic gorge drive and the actual town of Taos is pretty cute too. There was a detour from the town of Taos while we were there, so we drove dirt roads for about 10 minutes into the Taos Pueblo. I can’t attest to the normality of that, but we sure enjoyed it. It made the drive feel like we were really roughing it out to the Pueblo. 😉
The admission is $16 per adult, which is admittedly a little steep, but we figure it’s going to support the community which is a good place for it to go! Make sure to check the website for up-to-date admission and hours.
First things first: we highly recommend taking a tour! The tour guides are all volunteer (indeed, they do not get paid) Taos college students. They rely on the tips from people like us who go on their awesome tours. They run every 20 minutes and each tour covers the culture, history, and the people of the Taos Pueblo, but each guide seems to be able to make their own route. We saw another tour visit a different area than we did and didn’t think of it until after the fact, but it would be fun to go on a few different tours to not only support a few different students, but also to hear how they each tell the stories of the Pueblo and their people – since many of them grew up there.
We learned from our tour guide that there are eight families living full time in the Pueblo. The rest of their community still have family homes in the Pueblo that they maintain, but for the most part, they live on Taos land in more modern abodes. They still perform ceremonies at the Pueblo and those families outside the Pueblo will come stay in their homes during special occasions.
In the photos above, this is roughly what it would’ve looked like 1,000 years ago when Spanish settlers came across the Pueblo! The only difference would be the doors. They used to enter through the top of the home rather than the front. Like 1,000 years ago though, the Pueblo does not have any electricity and relies on gas and propane for light at night. During the day, there are skylights for light. For water, they still get water from the stream that runs through the center of the Pueblo. How cool is that!
Because this is still an inhabited Pueblo, as tourists, we must be respectful of their home. There are a number of places blocked off, but it’s not a problem! There is enough to see and shops to visit. Store owners/workers were friendly and happy to answer any questions we had about not only items they were selling, but also about the Pueblo, their culture, and history. We enjoyed ours chats with them.
Now, don’t go thinking they are hawking tourist trinkets. There are really great handmade items in addition to bakeries! Make sure to bring cash with you for the food! The shops will take credit cards, but the bakeries seem to take cash only. They have blue corn fried dough, cookies, bread, and more all made in the adobe ovens, plus delicious jams to put on them. We ended up getting some bread that was good and tasty and it was fun knowing that it was cooked differently than the bread we typically eat. We took it on the road with us.
We spent about 2 hours, but a visit could be longer if you were to explore even more and take multiple tours or it could be done quicker. Also, a note about the weather: our visit was in early June and we were very chilly in our shorts and t-shirts! We didn’t quite internalize that we were so far north in the state and the pueblo is situated over 7000 feet above sea level. Even though it’s New Mexico, it still gets chilly!
Have you visited Taos Pueblo or another that you really enjoyed? Tell me about it in the comments.