It may appear strange at first glance to be, all at once, surrounded by vast untouched vistas, towering mountains, and a rushing river. But any visitor to Taos, New Mexico, will tell you that this unique natural convergence makes for the ultimate outdoor adventure. Whether you take to the skies or the water, or prefer to keep your feet on the ground, there are limitless ways to embrace nature in this northern New Mexico oasis.
If you look up to the skies in Taos, there are many things to see. At night, you’ll see more stars than you can imagine, while during the day it’s endless clear sapphire skies and billowy white clouds. At dawn, striking oranges, pinks, and blues often accompany hot air balloons that lazily float through the blazing sky. Taos’ clean, fresh air and breathtaking views make it a picture-perfect destination for hot air ballooning all year round. The sunrise flights over the Rio Grande Gorge can make for an unforgettable morning—especially when it comes with a surprise drop down into the timeless Rio Grande. A post-ride champagne brunch ties the whole sky experience together and make the 5 AM wake up call well worth it.
The Rio Grande equals fun, period. It is the gift the keeps on giving. With Taos’ Class IV rapids that make it the premier spot in New Mexico for white water rafters and kayakers from near and far, the Rio also offers calm waters filled with rainbows, browns, brookies, and cutbows that have fly fishers frequenting Taos all summer long. Though it’s perfect for adventure, the Rio Grande also serves as the headquarters for lazy days, leisurely floats and rejuvenating with a soak in the natural hot springs along the river. If you’re seeking an especially relaxing day on the water, try a stand up paddle board yoga class.
There is only one way to get up close and personal with the natural beauty of Taos and that is to hit the trails. On foot or on horseback, solo or with a furry friend, this land is your land to explore. The hike to Wheeler Peak (New Mexico’s highest point at 13,169 ft.) may be challenging, but you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views that show exactly why New Mexico is called the Land of Enchantment. There’s also the South Boundary Trail’s “Heaven on Earth” downhill singletrack that makes for a scenic and exhilarating mountain bike adventure. But if you want some extra legs for your adventure, a sunset horseback ride or a llama trek through the Taos wilderness with lunch may be more your style. And after all of the adventure, there’s no shortage of open spaces to set up camp and enjoy the tranquility of Taos.
Pro tip: the Williams Lake Trail is a beautiful, less intense alternative to the Wheeler Peak hike and the West Rim Trail is a low intensity path that packs a punch with its views of the Rio Grande Gorge.