Even if you’ve been in New Mexico awhile and think you’re inured to adobe, Taos Pueblo (575/758-1028, www.taospueblo.com, 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. daily, closed for 10 weeks around Feb.–Mar., $10) is an amazing sight. Two clusters of multistory mud-brick buildings make up the core of this village, which claims, along with Acoma Pueblo, to be the oldest continually inhabited community in the United States.
The current buildings, though annually repaired and recoated with mud, essentially date from the 1200s and house about 150 people year-round (the total population of the Taos reservation is about 2,000).
The dedication of pueblo residents along with the town’s designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site have kept the place remarkably as it was in the pre-Columbian era, save for the use of adobe bricks as the main structural material, which was introduced by the Spanish.
The apartment-like homes, stacked up in stages and connected by wood ladders, have no electricity or running water (though some use propane gas for heat and light).
As you explore, be careful not to intrude on spaces that are not clearly marked as shops, and stay clear of the ceremonial kiva areas on the east side of each complex. These kivas form the ritual heart of the pueblo, a private space within a private culture.
© Zora O'Neill from Moon Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque, 2nd edition