What can you say about Taos, New Mexico? It’s one of those magical places you’ll want to return to time and time again. I’ve been there many times and can’t get enough of the place. The year round weather is just wonderful. Not too hot in the summer nor too cold in the winter. The history is rich … the galleries phenomenal … and I don’t think I’ve been to many places as small as Taos that have such an exceptional number of great restaurants. I’m a lover of Graham’s Grille just off the plaza and the Texas BBQ and Trading Post just south of town. There are far too many to mention here so you’ll want to stay awhile and try them all.
On our latest trip we had a ball. Stayed at the Hampton Inn and Dana and Raymond made us feel right at home. They have a great breakfast buffet that is included with your room and it’s not unusual to see noted local artist, Richard Alan Nichols, painting in the lobby or to hear the incredible flute music of Frederick Aragon (appearing live) helping you dream a little over morning coffee.
We packed a great deal into this adventure taking in a variety of art galleries downtown, visiting the Kit Carson museum to learn a little of Taos history and spent an incredible day at the El Monte Sagrado hotel and spa. Now this is one place that you need to spend some time. The spa is like none I’ve ever seen and on my next trip I’ve been invited to stay at the hotel and after seeing the rooms and suites I may just be enticed to move in permanently! The El Monte is one of those “comfort food” type places where you could easily spend a few days and never leave the grounds. Pampering here is second nature to the entire staff and you’ll want for nothing! This is a world class destination in a world class town. And … while doing some filming on the restaurant patio I ran into Dennis Hopper of “Crash” TV fame (Okay … let’s not forget “Easy Rider!”) taking a break from filming and having a casual meal by himself. He is quite an accomplished artist himself and told me that Taos is rapidly becoming “home” for him. He just loves New Mexico and is quite the good will ambassador for our state and Taos.
But Taos is more than just downtown. We headed up toward Taos Mountain and on the way took a balloon ride with Ed Smith of the Pueblo Balloon Company. Now this wasn’t just a hot air balloon ride … this was a ride DOWN through the Rio Grande Gorge. Ed is a great guy and has lots of stories to share about the early days of Taos that he shares on the ride to his launch site. After the ride we took a walk across the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge … one of the tallest in the country. Spectacular! And…it’s a long way down!
The Village of Taos Ski Valley and the Ski Valley itself are filled with fun places to visit and things to do. I think most people are of the opinion that Taos is a place to go in the winter to ski. I’d spend a week or so there in the summer. The Taos Music Festival had its inaugural run this year and was a huge success. Outdoors with the mountains and valley in the background. Blankets and picnic baskets spread on the ground. Blue skies and great music. What else is there to say? While you’re waiting for the music to start … try some Frisbee Golf! Now that is a lot of fun and you get a good share of exercise, too, when you consider that part of Taos Mountain ski area is used for the course!
We had a great lunch at the Bavarian Inn just up the mountain from Taos Ski Valley. Thomas and Jamie Schulze are the owners who believe that “good” just isn’t good enough. Their patio is open in summer and winter and is right at the bottom of one of the mountains chair lifts. If we ever meet remind me to tell you the story of the stein of beer that Thomas shared with me! It’s one of those that you have to hear in person.
Chuck, our native New Mexican, had never had true German food. Thomas is from Munich (I believe) and he knows good Bavarian food! Chuck has made me promise that the next time we’re up there we’ll pay the Bavarian a return visit for the combination sausage platter. That’s what I had and it was so good I selfishly refused to share more than one bite with the crew … Chuck included! The Bavarian has four ski chalets for rent year-round and Janine and I will definitely be booking our room there for the upcoming ski season!
We spent time rock climbing with Jay and Donna Foley. Something I hadn’t done before and neither had producer/director, Chuck, who wedged himself in a large crevice to get some great shots of Jay climbing. Something I definitely want to do again. Jay has actually done some climbs that required overnight stays sleeping in a hammock attached to a rock on a sheer face canyon wall! Don’t think I want to try that … but …
Big Al Johnson is a cowboy everyone should meet. A tall, gentle man who wakes up every morning thankful that he gets to do what he does … take folks like us on high mountain horseback rides at over 10-thousand feet elevation. His stories are fabulous and the care he takes to make sure everyone enjoys the ride is second to none. Just a wonderful guy with a couple equally as wonderful people working for him. He does overnight camp stays, too, and I’ve promised him that I’ll be back for that experience, too! He explained what the stars and night sky look like from up there but I think this is something you have to see to believe. What a great day rock climbing and horseback riding!
The great thing about Taos Ski Valley and the Village is that if you like to fish you can fly fish right out of your “home” … or very close by. Just another great example of places to go that offer something for everyone! Taos does that and a whole lot more! Spend a week there and enjoy Northern New Mexico to the fullest.