With over 500 years of rich, cultural history, 350 days of sunshine every year, landscape that inspired the likes of D.H. Lawrence, Ansel Adams and Georgia O’Keefe, Taos is a remarkable community. Located in the Sangre de Christo Mountains in northern New Mexico near the Rio Grande River gorge, the town was incorporated in 1934, and is the country seat for Taos County.
Taos, as it is known today, is comprised of several Spanish villages first settled in the 16th century near the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Taos Pueblo. The original name of Don Fernando was changed in the early 20th century to Taos, the Tiwa word for “Red Willow People,” used by the local Taos Pueblo Indians for centuries to describe members of their tribe. During the last century Taos became known as a prominent artist colony. Home to more than 20 National Historic Places, the center of historic downtown is Taos Plaza.
Today Taos attracts visitors and residents from all over the world with its relaxed life style, traditional adobe architecture and variety of outdoor activities from world-class skiing to white water rafting on the Rio Grande River. With easy access and close proximity to Carson National Forest, recreational activities in Taos abound. Fly fishing, horseback riding, golfing, hot air ballooning, llama trekking, rafting, mountain biking are popular in summer, and snow-shoeing, cross-country and downhill skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, ice fishing and snowmobiling take place in winter. Nearby Taos Ski Valley is rated one of the top ten ski resorts in the world, and it hosts the premier ski school in the nation. For the less adventurous, historic Taos Plaza and surrounding areas offer nationally recognized restaurants, museums, and galleries.
Famous for being an art colony, there are three Taos museums that provide art from the Native American pueblos, Taos Society of Artists, and contemporary artists: the Harwood Museum of Art, Taos Art Museum, and Millicent Rogers Museum. Numerous cultural events, performing arts, and independent film series occur regularly in a variety of venues, including the Taos Center for the Arts. Many historic sites open to the public are former homes of Taos artists, such as the Mabel Dodge Luhan house, the Fechin house, and the Ernest L Blumenschein house.
An impressive collection of hotels, historic inns, Bed and Breakfasts and the luxurious El Monte Sagrado Resort welcome tourists. The active business climate is served by the Taos Chamber of Commerce and the Taos Entrepreneurial Network. Taos boasts the award winning Taos News and famous solar-powered KTAO Radio 101.9 FM.
The Town of Taos is located at an elevation of 6,950 feet. Taos Ski Valley elevation is 9,207 feet. The sun shines 70% of possible hours annually with warmest month temperature averages in the 80s and winter low temperatures average near 10 degrees. Annual precipitation in town is 12 inches with an average annual snowfall of 35 inches. Taos Ski Valley averages 312 inches snowfall annually.
A little more than 38% of Taos County’s 1,444,480 acres is privately owned. The rest belongs to federal and state governments and Native Americans. 21% of county land is engaged in agricultural activities. County property tax is calculated at 1/3 of assessed value times a tax rate which varies within the county.
Taos County population reported in the year 2013 is over 33,000 with over 5,700 people residing within the Town of Taos. Ethnic composition is 36% Anglo, 56% Hispanic, 7.4% Native American and 2% Other. Tourism is the county’s primary industry with the majority of visitors coming from the states of Texas, California, Colorado, Florida and New Mexico.
Transportation needs are addressed by The Chile Line public transit system, Taos Express Shuttle to Sante Fe, and the North Central Regional RTD serving the Enchanted Circle. Taos Municipal Airport serves private air traffic.
Public schools are operated by Taos Municipal Schools, and there are private, Charter and Christian schools available. Opportunities for community college, associate degree, and graduate programs are available from the University of New Mexico Taos. Continuing education programs are provided by UNM Taos and Southern Methodist University Fort Burgwin.
Architecturally diverse housing includes predominantly traditional pueblo and territorial styles with many off-grid options including “earthships” and green homes with net metering solar systems. Significantly higher in elevation and price range that the rest of the area, some of the more affluent neighborhoods, such as Arroyo Seco, Cañon Heights and Weimer are found in the foothills of the Sangre de Christos. There are no conventional neighborhoods and a limited number of subdivisions in Taos. Taos is a sought after vacation home and retirement real estate market.