Visiting Taos in October 2013
Left Albuquerque before noon and drove up the "low road" to Taos. We arrived mid-afternoon and immediately stopped at the Welcome Center. Good choice. Lots of brochures and info on the area, as well as a very helpful staff who marked a map for us.
Our next stop was the church St. Francisco de Asis just blocks away.
After visiting the church, we checked into our hotel and headed downtown to stroll around town. Most of the shops were still open, artists were sitting outside painting or making sculptures, and tourists were darting in and out of the many shops.
San Francisco de Asis Church is the most photographed and painted church in the Southwest USA.
For dinner we picked Guadalajara Grill which turned out to be an excellent choice. Big portions and spicy Mexican dishes! After dinner we went back to the hotel to unpack and look through all the brochures we picked up at the Welcome Station. The cold front was still moving through and we had a loud thunderstorm during the night... rain in the city but probably snow up in the mountains!
Hiking... at Taos Ski Area.
Up at 6am, we packed up our hiking gear, then ate a quick breakfast at McDonald's next to our hotel, grabbed a couple of gallon jugs of water at the grocery store to fill our packs, then drove up to Taos Ski Valley for our hike arriving at 8am. It was overcast and snow was evident along the roadside. The parking lot at "Bull of the Woods" trailhead was empty except for one car from Texas. A family was gearing up for the hike also. We asked them to take a photo of us before they headed up, and we took a photo for them on their camera.
After stopping at the trailhead restroom, we headed up the trail at 8:30am. It was freakin' COLD!
After the first mile, the trail turned sunny and air temps had warmed up! We were able to take off our hats and gloves. Shortly after that, the trail turned again to a dirt road leading out to the ridge of the mountain and we had spectacular views looking back at the ski valley. We ran into that family from the parking lot and they told us they were heading up to Wheeler Peak which was still over 6 miles away and another 3000' elevation gain. We saw them again at the turning point sign as they headed up. No idea if they made it.
We reached Bull of the Woods meadow... but no elk were there. At the north end of the meadow we found a nice yurt but didn't see anyone staying there. It has an outhouse and had wood for the fireplace stacked up outside. Very cool! We took a snack break at their firepit, removed our thermal vests under our coats, then started the trek back down. It was very sunny but still a bit chilly.
We arrived back at the parking lot around 12:30 and drove around the Ski Valley a bit to check it out.
We drove back to the hotel, showered and changed, then headed to Taos Mesa Brewing for their Oktoberfest celebration. This place is outside of the town of Taos, on the road to the gorge bridge. We arrived at 2:30pm and festivities were in high gear -- beer, German food cooking, music, and tons of people. We were lucky to get a table and quickly ordered some food as we were both starving from our stenuous hike in the mountains.
After eating, we received a message from our friend Melissa who was also up in Taos at her mother's clothing store. We hopped in the car and drove over to meet up with her. Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel, stopping at a few stores along the way. We found one excellent shop with Mexican handicrafts and weavings and purchased a wall hanging for our house. And believe it or not, Taos was having its Balloon Festival this weekend. Just a dozen or so,but still... Since we had eaten such a late lunch, we weren't sure what to do for dinner. We strolled around downtown Taos again, looking at menus and decided to go to Michael's Kitchen. Dinner was great, and afterwards we were ready to hit the hotel again for the night.
Up early, we packed up our stuff and headed back to Michael's Kitchen for breakfast. We had a huge breakfast then went back to hotel to check out. We then drove to Taos Pueblo. The entry fee is now $15 per person, which includes camera fees since everyone has a camera phone. It was just after the 9am opening so only a few other people there which made photography nice.
After walking around the Pueblo for an hour, we headed out of town on the "High Road". This is the famous drive taking you back to Santa Fe from Taos through the mountain towns and spectacular views. We stopped at a few pull-off sites for photos as well as several of the famous churches on the drive.
We arrived back in Albuquerque before 3pm. It was a great weekend trip and we both want to return to Taos. Our next trip will probably not be until summer 2014, but we will probably hike again in the mountains and maybe even Wheeler Peak!