"Pueblo de Taos" Top 5 Page for this destination Taos Pueblo by goodfish

Taos Pueblo Travel Guide: 51 reviews and 122 photos

To step inside the crumbling walls of this ancient village is to step back in time, over 1000 years, when ancestors of the Taos Tribal Nation laid the foundation of one of the oldest continually inhabited communities in the US. Two massive, multi-storied adobe structures that rise from the desert were here before explorers from other continents reached our shores and have changed little since the Spanish arrived in 1540.

However, Taos Pueblo is more than just a few old buildings: it's the sacred, ancestral home of Taos people and an ongoing effort to preserve the integrity of their culture and traditions. Walls once intended to keep enemies out now protectively encircle a system of values and beliefs that might otherwise vanish in a changing world. It's the still-beating heart that reminds The People of who they are, where they came from and what ties them together. It's an architectural and cultural wonder so unique that it holds designations as both National Historic Landmark and UNESCO World Heritage Site - right up there with Pompeii, the pyramids of Egypt, Great Wall of China and the Acropolis of Athens.

These walls also guard a history fully known only to those within the tribe. While archeologists, anthropologists and historians have patched together certain facts and figures, The People have handed down their ancestral story orally - their Taos Tiwa language is unwritten - and it's never shared with outsiders. Tiwa (which I didn't get to hear) is said to be a complicated language void of profanity and the words "no" and "never." Tribal reluctance to teaching it outside of the community is akin to the same restrictions they place on access to a traditional place of worship: to keep it pure.

For all the positive efforts, this ancient Sovereign Nation is not without serious problems - largely outside of the old pueblo walls. Articles written by concerned elders document struggles with poverty, crime, alcoholism, domestic abuse, gross mismanagement of tribal funds, high educational drop-out rates and the threat of extinction of their traditional language. I also noticed some structural deterioration of parts of the pueblo itself since our first visit in 2000. Still, these are a resilient people so I'd like to think that those few who are banding together to try and meet and defeat these challenges will somehow prevail.

Taos Pueblo lies about 2 miles outside of the town of Taos, about 72 miles from Santa Fe, and is a must-do day trip if you're visiting New Mexico's capital city. Taos is sort of a miniature Santa Fe of art galleries, shops and restaurants that make a fun browse after your tour of the pueblo. There are also excellent hiking, kayaking, skiing (in winter) and camping opportunities nearby so set aside a full day - if not a couple - to explore this beautiful part of northeastern New Mexico. See my Santa Fe "Things To Do" pages for a few good day-tripping tips in this area.

Note: Photography of the pueblo is allowed for personal use only so please don't reproduce my pictures.
(Pueblo tips under construction)

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:A rare glimpse into an ancient way of life
  • Cons:Occasional closings, strict photography regulations and scenery-spoiling signage
  • Last visit to Taos Pueblo: Sep 2008
  • Intro Updated Sep 5, 2011
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Reviews (12)

Comments (2)

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo
    Sep 4, 2011 at 9:01 AM

    Yet another of our must-sees! Thanks for the very helpful tips about photography and getting there early - had planned to see Taos first and then drive out here but now think we'll do it the other way round!

  • mircaskirca's Profile Photo
    Nov 29, 2009 at 7:57 AM

    Oh, the first one :) Kathy, it was great to learn about this pre-Hispanic site and the culture of Taos! What a beautifully preserved pueblo, lovely adobe architecture! I would enjoy having a look at those handicraft shops and also try horno-baked bread :)

goodfish

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