Exploring the Taos Ski Valley

Taos Ski Valley

New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment, doesn’t seem like much from the southern end of things, but if you head north of Santa Fe and into the mountains, you’ll find an eclectic little town called Taos, a hidden gem in a land of many uses. 

Road to Taos Rio Grande River


Historically, Taos is home to the oldest, continuously inhabited, building in North America (the Taos Pueblo), which is home to the Pueblo Indians (you may recognize the Pueblo Houses from scenes in the movie Easy Rider). Native American culture thrives throughout the community through art, jewelry, and even modern day home designs. Adobe architecture is abundant, with ristras and other southwestern accents adorning businesses and homes alike.

One minute, you can see a farmer herding livestock, and the next, some hippies enjoying the outdoors underneath some trees near a creek bed. Taos is home to the creative, the free spirited, and the friendly. The community mindset and positive vibes thrive throughout the mountain town and adjacent villages.

Taos is located on the Southwestern side of the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, a common motorcycle day ride in Northern New Mexico that carves it’s way through mountains, valleys, and the beautiful Carson National Forest. About five miles north of town off Highway 150, you’ll find the village of Arroyo Seco. It’s the gateway to the Taos Ski Valley, a popular recreation site in the winters for skiing, and hiking and other outdoor activities in the warmer seasons. 

Arroyo Seco

Abe’s Cantina and the Taos Cow (Temporarily closed) are Arroyo Seco staples. Sitting next to each other, the two businesses hold very different atmospheres, but perfectly encompass the Taos vibe. Art galleries, a natural food grocer, and a hostel are among the other small businesses found in the small Seco village.  Abe’s holds more of a dive bar feel, while the Cow may be more inviting to the tree hugging type. If you’re high maintenance, Seco might not be the village for you. In fact, you might just want to head straight to the Ski Valley and find a more sophisticated place to hang out. 

The Taos Cow has been listed one of the top 50 Ice Cream parlors in the United States, and number one in the state of New Mexico, according to the USA Today Plaque sitting in their window sill. Small Batch ice creams and organic meals are the name of the game at the Cow. Whether you’re here for breakfast, lunch, or just a few scoops of ice cream, you really can’t go wrong.

Abe's Cocina y Cantina | Places to Visit in Arroyo Seco, NM

Next door you’ll find Abe’s Cantina y Cocina, which has been a Seco staple for decades. Known for their breakfast burritos, Abe’s is another great spot to stop in for breakfast, or even a plate of simple beef enchiladas with a beer or margarita of your liking in the afternoon. Paper plates and styrofoam containers are the kinds of plating you’ll find at these establishments. So if you need to be sophisticated to be satisfied, keep on rollin’. We’re here for the good times and chill atmospheres, not the fancy stuff.

Taos Ski Valley

From Seco, you’ll begin the scenic, twisty journey up to the Taos Ski Valley, the highest village in New Mexico, sitting at over 9,000 feet in elevation. In the summer months you’ll notice tents lining the river along the highway. There’s little to no phone service in the valley, so it’s a great place to unplug for the weekend and set up camp with a few friends.

Tim’s Stray Dog Cantina is home to the young, the old, and everyone in between. You’ll find plenty of friendly faces at the bar or on the patio outside in the summers, and plenty of New Mexican inspired dishes on their menu, including some tasty margaritas and salsa smothered burritos. Be sure to get your food “Christmas style” when salsa is prevalent. It’s a New Mexico food tradition combining red and Green Chile salsa.

Taos Ski Valley Tims Stray Dog Cantina

“Christmas” Style salsa on a burrito is a must when in New Mexico!

Other things to see and check out around Taos:

  • Taos Mesa Brewery & Rio Grande Gorge
  • Riding The Enchanted Circle: Red River, NM
  • Dennis Hopper Day, May 17th Every Year
  • Taos Pueblo
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Staci Wilt

I’m Staci: a freelance journalist, photographer, and marketing consultant. I primarily focus those skills around my passions of motorcycles, travel, and food…and yes, we will count margaritas and craft beer in that last category. Thanks for checking out my blog!
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