Taos Pueblo: An Awe-Inspiring People

Taos Pueblo

Set at the base of the mountains that sit high above Taos, N.M., is the ancient home of the Taos Pueblo people. Northern New Mexico is home to 19 Pueblos, and Taos just might be the most famous because of its ancestral home. Taos Pueblo is the only inhabited property in the world listed on the UNESCO World Heritage site. And after spending a morning there exploring its beauty, listening to its people, and getting a tiny glimpse at their lives, it’s hard to leave this ancient land not in awe on so many levels.

Taos Pueblo

The drive to Taos Pueblo is just a few miles from the town of Taos, and is beautiful the entire way.

As we drove north from our apartment just off the Taos Plaza, I was anxious for the visit. It’s hard to explain, really, but visiting Taos Pueblo had me a tiny bit nervous. I didn’t know what to expect. We would be visiting someone’s home. Would it be 20 people, 200, 1,000? I had no clue. And would we be just tolerated visitors, people walking around a sacred place who really didn’t belong?

Taos Pueblo

The moment we pulled into the parking lot, any of those thoughts were erased with the friendly welcome by the man directing traffic. The woman working at the ticket office recognized our son from the restaurant in Taos the previous evening. Everyone we encountered inside Taos Pueblo was friendly: our tour guide, random shopkeepers, and random people we passed walking.

Then there was Mary Winters. Mary runs a cafe out of her family’s home in the Pueblo. We enjoyed New Mexicon Pinion coffee and the best breakfast burrito I’ve ever had.

Taos Pueblo

Mary’s little cafe had a few tables scattered about and a warm fire burning near the front door. We had a long conversation with her. She told us about her wonderful great-aunt who she had received the home at Taos Pueblo from, and she was especially proud of her sister, Patricia Michaels, a contestant on Season 11 of “Project Runway.

Taos Pueblo

The inside of Mary’s cafe includes photos from her sister’s appearance on “Project Runway.”

Tours aren’t necessary, but they are free, and recommended. Our tour began outside the San Geronimo Chapel, the newest structure in Taos Pueblo, built in 1850. Because of how sacred the church is, no photography is allowed inside. But take my word for it: the interior is beautiful. Pueblo Indians practice Catholicism as well as the ancient Native religion.

Taos Pueblo

The tour continues outside, where we are taken by some of the buildings (many on the north side seem to be off limits) and directed to the old church on the west side of the village that was destroyed in the Mexican-American War in 1847. The church remains as it was because it’s the final resting place of several Indians who were burned alive in the structure.

Taos Pueblo

As the tour proceeds through the village, we learn about the history of the people and the adobe structures.

Taos Pueblo

What a beautiful home.

We see how they still bake foods in the traditional horno ovens outside.

Horno ovens

It’s said that the Taos Pueblo has been lived in for some 1,000 years. The tour eventually ends just across from the historic center of the Taos Pueblo where we are left to roam the village freely.

Taos Pueblo

We were welcomed by some of the village’s dogs near the river. There were several running around, but I couldn’t get enough of this beautiful Labrador mother.

Taos Pueblo

And the river that runs through the village is vital. This is where the people get their drinking water. And I can see why.

Taos Pueblo

As we wandered along the south side of the river, we made our way into a beautiful gallery filled with local art.

Taos Pueblo

The shop is named for the owner’s child.

While our son played outside, we had a long conversation with the shop’s owner about the land and its meaning to the people. The people of Taos Pueblo don’t just love the land because it’s the trendy thing to do. It’s their responsibility. I got the sense that these people treat the Earth and all of nature with absolute reverence.

Taos Pueblo

Many of the “homes,” by the way, today aren’t lived in on a continuous basis. Mary, for example, recently turned what had been her great-aunt’s home into the cafe. Mary and her family live away from Taos Pueblo; many homeowners do, in fact. But about 150 people still live inside the village.

The homes stay in the families and are passed down through generations. Some families keep the homes as gathering places, others run little shops or other businesses — like Mary’s cafe. And, yes, there are homes inside Taos Pueblo that are lived in.

We could have spent about 30 minutes at Taos Pueblo and left satisfied that we got a taste of this ancient place. But we spent a few hours there, certainly time well spent. Getting to know some of the people of Taos Pueblo made the journey a real experience.

Taos Pueblo

21 thoughts on “Taos Pueblo: An Awe-Inspiring People

  1. Wow, that is such a lovely place to visit Lance!

    I am simply amazed at their simple lifestyle. Everything is still standing strong just as it did many many years ago.

    I love the Adobe Cafe, it looks so inviting and the dog? Just want to go over & give her a hug!

    Now that photo of the road leading up to Taos Pueblo is spectacular.

    Well done 😉

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  2. Wow, what an amazing experience! I can only imagine the culture among all the house at Taos Pueblo and it’s so great that you could bring your son, while he is young it is never too early to let him learn the importance of travel and culture. We hope we can visit one day! Thanks so much for sharing

  3. Jenna, it was a great experience for our son. I’m not sure what all he will remember when he’s older, but that’s not the concern. What is important is that he’s experiencing important places like this.

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  5. Lance, I have come across so many blogs the past month on New Mexico and that’s a compliment to you! Because this one of your’s sealed the deal that I must go as I’ve never been. I live in Reno. I’m so glad you snuck in the picture of the Lab…I’m a huge dog lover. And I wish you would have included a picture of the breakfast burrito! Great picture of the three of you. Fantastic post! :)
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  6. Mike, I really do appreciate your kind words. I wish I would’ve grabbed a photo of that burrito, but we dug into it before I even thought about a photo. Just take my word for it that it was great.

  7. I hope my son has great memories of Taos when he gets older. I’m not sure what all he will remember since he was 6 when he visited, but it’s a great place for children of all ages.

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