Planning Your Time
Taos’s busiest tourist season is the arid summer, when a day’s entertainment can consist simply of gallery hopping before settling in to watch the afternoon thunderheads gather and churn, and then the sun set under lurid red streaks across the broad western mesas.
Wintertime is of course busy with skiers between November and April, but as they’re all up on the mountain during the day, museums scale back their hours, and residents reclaim the town center, curling up with books at one of the many coffee shops. The Taos Pueblo also closes to visitors for up to 10 weeks in February and March.
By May, the peaks are relatively clear of snow, and you can hike to high meadows filled with wildflowers; fall is dominated by the smell of wood smoke and the beat of drums as the pueblo and the rest of the town turn out for the Feast of San Geronimo at the end of September.
If you’re coming straight from Albuquerque, the trip takes about 2.5 hours along the slightly more direct “low road” through the river valley, or three hours along the high road; you’ll want to stay over at least a couple of nights to make the drive worthwhile.
From Santa Fe, it’s possible to visit Taos as a day trip—as plenty of people do in the summertime—but you’ll of course get a better sense of the place if you stay overnight.
A three- or four-night visit will give you a chance to explore at a leisurely pace, with an afternoon at Taos Pueblo, a couple of mornings at galleries and museums, time for hiking or skiing, and a day tour of the Enchanted Circle. But you can also get a nice taste of Taos over a weekend, and a number of distinctive bed-and-breakfasts make it a perfect place for a short romantic getaway.
As for the Enchanted Circle, the 84-mile loop is typically done as a day trip, but you may want to stay overnight in Eagle Nest or in Red River (a.k.a. “Little Texas”), the better to take in the skiing, hiking, and rock climbing in the area. By no means attempt to visit Taos and do the Enchanted Circle loop in a single day—you’d be terribly rushed, and this is hardly the spirit of Taos.
© Zora O'Neill from Moon Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque, 2nd edition