New Mexico Roadtrip to Taos Pueblo
40 degrees outside and a small group of dedicated breakfast aficionados were huddled outside a small, stucco building in an industrial neighborhood of Santa Fe. It was here, at the Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen where we chose to begin our travels through the Rio Grande Valley of Northern New Mexico. Whether you are looking for comforting favorites or interested in trying something totally new (like breakfast salad!) Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen is my pick for breakfast in Santa Fe any day.
After breakfast, we started our journey to Taos Pueblo, a Unesco World Heritage Site and the oldest continually occupied settlement in the United States. Favoring scenic vistas and back-road discoveries over major thoroughfares, we chose to take the High Road to Taos which snakes over mesas and through an endless carpet of blue sagebrush dotted with white yucca and yellow alder. This state-designated scenic byway also passes through a dozen rural hamlets, each with their own character and sweeping views of the majestic New Mexico landscape.
As you drive through these communities, you’ll see an occasional handwritten sign posted at the end of a long driveway advertising a local artisan home store. As sketchy as it may seem to a city-dweller like me to turn down a gravel driveway and knock on the door of a complete stranger, I did, and I urge you to do the same (with good judgment of course). We found it was the best way to get authentic and still affordable traditional arts and handcrafts, unlike the souvenirs you see in the bigger cities.
After nearly a full day of driving and gallery hopping, we arrived in Taos Pueblo just in time for the 3 o’clock tour. Guided by a Taos Pueblo native, we wound our way through the labyrinth of homes around the central square admiring the landscape and architecture that by now was so beautifully lit in the slanted rose gold light of the autumn sun. Here in the historic walled part of the pueblo, we learned a small group of residents still live in the homes their ancestors built by hand out of mud and hay a thousand years ago without running water or electricity.
People here have an incredible dedication, in Taos Pueblo and in all of the communities I visited on my trip. People are dedicated to the food they make, the art they create, and to the communities they inhabit. All along the Rio Grande we saw evidence of this dedication in the preservation of historic buildings and ancient settlements, fantastic food, and unique and beautiful traditional arts. If you are looking for a weekend trip that recharges and inspires you I can’t think of a better place than the Rio Grande Valley of northern New Mexico.
By Carolyn Neer