And America’s Weirdest Ski Town
Taos, New Mexico is unlike any other ski town: it’s ethnically diverse, artistically rich, historically significant, and… just plain weird.
The Land of Enchantment—or “Entrapment” as the locals call it—is by far the prettiest (and strangest) town I’ve ever called home, and that’s up against places like Jackson Hole, New York City, and Patagonia. But thanks to a three-hour drive from the closest airport, outside developers and second home owners haven’t ruined it yet. So, unlike most ski towns, Taos is comprised of mostly working-class people and small business owners—people who actually live here.
For a remote town of only 6,000, Taos oddly resembles a culturally rich metropolis. The spiritual diversity alone attests to that: 200-year-old Catholic churches, Synagogues, sweat lodges, a Hindu ashram and everything in between. But the mosaic of locals is what really gives Taos its charm. On any given day, you’re sure to see hippies with their scrappy dogs hitchhiking on a corner, Subarus carting skiers up to Taos Ski Valley, teenagers bouncing their low-riders, a Pueblo Indian riding his horse down the highway, and an elderly Spanish man driving a 1950’s truck at a ridiculously low speed. And you’ll overhear talk of crystals, “the universe,” niños, snowmelt, government conspiracies, cattle, “the mesa” (where hippies live completely off the grid in old school buses), teepees, and Earthships. No topic of conversation is off limits in Taos.
Nestled up against the majestic Rockies, this high desert terrain is cut in half by a 1,300-foot-wide gorge, which tourists can explore via class IV rafting adventures. The high elevations (ranging from 7,000-12,000 feet) and excessive sun make Taos a dream for outdoor enthusiasts—you can ski powder in the morning, climb in T-shirts in the afternoon, and soak in one of Taos’s secret hot springs at night. Whether it’s kayaking, rock climbing, rafting, fly fishing, trekking, golf, mountain biking, hot air ballooning, or world class skiing, you’ll never get bored here.
Taos is made up almost entirely of adobe buildings (even Wendy’s!). But its oldest and most treasured adobe structures are found in The Taos Pueblo. Home to the Pueblo Indians for almost a thousand years now, this National Heritage sight is not to be missed. The other must-sees are the Earthships. Invented in Taos in the 70’s, Earthships are revolutionary off-the-grid homes made from adobe and recycled materials… and they’re gorgeous. People from all over the world come to intern at Taos’s Earthship Academy. You can tour one yourself near The Gorge Bridge or ask a local about The Beer Can Castle.
- Most restaurants in Taos are locally owned and amazing. For the best New Mexican food, try Orlando’s (order your chilies “Christmas-style”).
- For the best views and pizza, Pizaños is a local favorite.
- Wired is great for coffee and people watching.
- For the best music and overall atmosphere, Taos Mesa Brewery is a must (and kid-friendly).
- For rafting adventures, the oldest and best company is Los Rios.
Whether it’s outdoor fun, Native American culture and history, or just chilling out that’s your thing, go check out Taos for yourself!