This guest post was written by Rachael Moore. Rachael recently moved to Cincinnati from the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains in western Connecticut. She is an avid traveler who sometimes moves to her favorite vacation spots. She has lived in places as disparate as the Rocky Mountains, New York City, and London, where she wrote articles on area tourist sites for the expat newsletter, Focus. She is a mom to two very curious and active kids who love to discover new neighborhoods and attractions in Cincinnati. She and her family continue to travel and explore.
My family recently made a return trip to New Mexico, the “Land of Enchantment”, drawn by the stateʼs extremes of snow and sunshine. Our primary destination was Taos, New Mexico, and the slopes of Taos Ski Valley resort. From Albuquerque International Airport, we drove the 2 1/2 hour route to Taos, stopping for a quick lunch of green chile enchiladas and lemonade along the way.
Although we had to pass it by this year, we usually make a stop in Chimayó, a small town with a fortiﬁed, walled plaza left over from its Spanish colonial past. In addition to the plaza, its primary attractions are a beautiful, adobe Santuario, which attracts thousands of Catholic pilgrims each year, and its traditional handicrafts, especially weaving.
Eventually, we arrived at our destination, The Taos Inn, near the galleries, shops, and restaurants off the Paseo del Pueblo Norte. While my husband and I unpacked, our daughters explored the quiet courtyard adjacent to our large, two-room suite. Our daughters were charmed by the tiny fountain and koi pond in The Taos Innʼs interior courtyard.
While the girls suffered through “quiet time” in their room, I slipped out to explore the John Dunn House Shops plaza, across the street from our hotel. It was late in the day and shops were closing, so I found myself at the still-open Moby Dickens Bookstore, where I purchased three fascinating books and two sketch-pads for my daughters.
Later in our trip, we discovered Twirl, a wonderful childrenʼs toy store on the far side of the plaza. I found paints “made from fruits, vegetables, ﬂowers, and spices” and a kidsʼ soap-making kit, among other natural treasures, while my daughters ran around the magical, outdoor playground attached to the store. You can visit the playground even if youʼre not buying anything at the shop.
The next day, we headed out to Manby Hot Springs, a spa-like natural relaxation spot on the banks of the Rio Grande. After a short hike along a narrow trail, into the Rio Grande gorge, we found three small rock-lined pools that capture waters heated by the remnants of ancient volcanic activity. The hike only takes about 20 minutes.
While it is gratifying to see such a famed river up close, The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, voted “Most Beautiful Steel Bridge” in 1966, provides a more breathtaking view. From the span, you can take in the vastness of the Rio Grande Rift, with the Rio Grande River snaking 650 feet below you.
After two days of relaxing in Taos and exploring its environs, it was time to start skiing. We headed for the cool, forested slopes of Taos Ski Valley, half an hour outside the town of Taos, in the Sangre de Cristo mountains. We spent the day making turns on sunny, groomed runs, breaking frequently for rest and water.
The slope-side restaurants provide some fun options, including a crepe stop and a hot cocoa cart. Even the standard-looking ski resort lodge serves healthy salads and southwestern food. At the bottom, our favorite spot was the deck at The Bavarian Lodge. It has a festive, cook-out atmosphere and you can watch people descending one of Taosʼs most challenging slopes.
At the end of skiing each day, we straggled back to our car, with the help of a Taos Ski Valley shuttle, and changed out of our ski clothing. Then we would stop in the tiny village of Arroyo Seco, to sample the amazing ice cream ﬂavors at The Taos Cow. (Lavender was our favorite!)
On our last day, we skipped the skiing and headed to one of New Mexicoʼs famed archaeological sites. Bandelier National Monument, witness to thousands of years of human settlement, still contains artifacts and dwellings left over from the ancestral Pueblo civilizations that lived, worked, and worshipped here. There is a circular hike that winds its way around the narrow valley and provides access to the ruins of former cave homes and kivas. Our daughters enjoyed climbing up the hand-made ladders to peek inside the cave dwellings.
For the amazing restaurants, abundant sunshine, challenging skiing and fascinating excursions, we will deﬁnitely make a return trip to one of our favorite states!