Today I'll tell you a bit about Taos, New Mexico. Taos is the beginning and end of the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, and it sits at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, in north central New Mexico. Taos (prounounced "tah-os"), which gets its name from the local Tiwa (Pueblo) Indians, means "red willow"--and many red willow trees can be found in and around Taos! This land has been inhabited by humans for almost 6,000 years. The first humans here were nomadic hunter-gatherers, and were the ancestors of today's Tiwa Indians. It is hard to believe that people have lived in this area for so long! The Tiwa people live in a pueblo that is one of the oldest still in use in the US. This pueblo has been continuously lived in for 1,000 years, and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Please click here to see pictures of the Taos Pueblo. My own pictures are packed away, but these will give you an excellent idea of what the pueblo is like, as well as parts of Taos and the culture here. It is interesting to note that some of the Tiwa people still live in the pueblo in the ancient ways--this means with no running water or electricity. However, many of the Tiwa Indians do have modern homes, and choose to live in the pueblo only during ceremonial and religious times.
Taos has been a trading center for hundreds of years. The Tiwa people traded with many of the Plains Indians, and even with some that came from south of the border (from Mexico and beyond). Taos Plaza is still the center of Old Taos, and is a market place to this day. The plaza is one, of only a few places in the US, where the American flag can be on display day and night. I haven't been able to find the reason for this distinction. Do any of you know why this is? Please click here to see a panoramic view of the plaza.
Taos was first seen by the Spanish in 1540, when Captain Alvarado led the first European explorers (of the Coronado Expedition) into the Taos Valley. They were looking for the gold of the Seven Cities of Cibola. By the early 1600's, Spaniards had laid claim to all of what they called Nuevo Mexico and had begun to settle the land and area around Taos, and the rest of what is now the state of New Mexico. So, Taos was settled even before the Pilgrims came to the New World! Most people don't know this...that the Spanish were the first to begin settlement of what would later become the United States of America! Later, Taos was a major stop for fur traders, for those on the Santa Fe Trail, and also for the gold hunters.
Nowadays, Taos is known as a hot tourist site in the south western US. You can find so much to see and do here...Taos is a center for art in many forms--everything from Native American art and jewelry to paintings. Taos is full of art galleries...as well as museums. And I can't forget to mention the Taos Ski Valley! This is a famous ski resort, just a few miles outside of Taos, that offers beautiful hiking trails in summer, and very challenging skiing in the winter. Taos is also famous for its many restaurants that serve everything from Tex Mex and Mexican food, to steak! It is easy to spend several days here, in Taos...there is so much to see and do here! I would highly recommend a stop in Taos to experience some of the best that the South West has to offer in terms of culture and history. Please click here to view more pictures of Taos.
That's all for today...next time, I'll write about beautiful Red River, another town on the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway.
You all have a great day!
(c) 2008 by czechoffthebeatenpath