Taos is no longer the soul of New Mexico

Grant McGee

I like to get out of town at least once a month. It makes me appreciate Clovis.

The most recent destination: Taos, about four hours northwest in New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo mountains.

Taos means different things to different people: It’s an art colony, a ski destination and a tourist town. Taos beckoned me westward from the east after I had read about the northern New Mexico hippie communes of the 1960s (as featured in that great piece of American cinema “Easy Rider”).

Arriving in Taos in 1989, I found I was about 15 years late for hippie fun and frolic, but it was still intriguing. My last Taos visit was in 1991.

I get feelings about towns, a lot of us do. My 1991 feeling was Taos had a lot of New Mexican soul.

Arriving in Taos now, change was everywhere (it’s wise to remember the three certainties in life: death, taxes and change).

While the sign leading into Taos read “the soul of the Southwest,” I got the feeling the area now belonged more to Coloradans and Californians than New Mexicans. The television in the hotel was rigged to only have Denver television stations.

The traffic jam near town square was noticeably larger (it turns out a Taos bypass has been the subject of local discussion and derision for about 30 years).

Road Buddy and I ambled to an arts and crafts festival in a town park. We were looking for local pottery. Road Buddy wanted a genuine Taos mug, I wanted a new cereal bowl. The potters were from San Diego, Truth or Consequences and Tucumcari; none from Taos.

The galleries were filled with the works of artists from all over, some at prices that could buy a small house in Clovis (last year I saw a sculpture in Santa Fe at a price that would buy a nice home in Colonial Park).

We walked in to the Taos town square, still relatively unchanged.

We passed La Fonda de Taos. The least expensive entrée on the hotel’s posted menu was $18.

Road Buddy and I ended up having a really good grilled burger ($8.95) at an outdoor café next to the Taos Inn.
“You won’t find that in Clovis,” Road Buddy said of the cranberry coleslaw served as a side dish.

“These either,” I said, holding up a bread stick, served while one awaited a meal at this place. They looked like large toothpicks.

To me, the best places in Taos are outside of the town proper: Taos Pueblo, the bridge over the Rio Grande Gorge, Arroyo Seco and the Sangre de Cristos.

Arroyo Seco is between Taos and Taos Ski Valley. It has a hostel, a mercantile full of neat stuff, some galleries and a potter. The potter was out of mugs so Road Buddy bought a ceramic juicer and I got my cereal bowl.

At Taos Ski Valley the lifts were running to take people up for a mountain view.

From the summit we saw New Mexico’s highest point, Wheeler Peak, over 13,000 feet high. There was a dusting of new snow on its top this first September weekend.
At the end of the weekend I was looking forward to coming home.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll ramble back to Taos someday.
Not any time soon, though.

Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: