My husband Joseph and I got married last July. After 7 months of planning, prepping, DIYing and, yes, stressing, over what would be the biggest party ever thrown in our honor, we were exhausted. We knew this would be the case, and so we opted for a small, low-key trip to Northeast New Mexico for our first adventure as husband and wife; the “big” honeymoon was a trip to Europe last month, but that’s another story. We immediately fell in love with the nature, history and culture of this corner of the Land of Enchantment.
For notoriety and location’s sake, we chose to make our homebase stay at an earthship rental northwest of Taos. Think Luke Skywalker’s house on Tatooine meets a greenhouse meets a glass recycling plant. These funky, off-the-grid green buildings range from fairly plain and practical to wildly colorful works of art. Stop by the Earthship Biotecture headquarters for a tour of the sustainable shelters.
Having only been to Taos to enjoy winter activities, we were excited to explore the town and its offerings at a warmer time. We kicked off our big day in Taos with breakfast at Michael's Kitchen, where the just-the-right-amount-of-spicy red chile is made with juicy ground beef, and the sweet rolls are the size of your face.On the recommendation of a friend, we spent the majority of our day in Taos at the John Dunn House Shops. Just off the main plaza, this quaint courtyard is studded with adorable shops, boutiques and galleries. Set aside time for lunch and some excellent people-watching under the covered porch at Bent Street Café and Deli, and then take your satisfied belly over to the Moby Dickens Bookshopand be greeted by unique finds and the friendly resident cats.
The Aragons at Wild Rivers
Day trips from Taos in all directions offer endless natural beauty, rich history and tasty eatin’. We headed further north and east to the town of Arroyo Seco, where we tucked into tiny secondhand shops and stopped for ice cream at the Taos Cow. Hubs and I both declared our cones—mine a strawberry-chocolate creation called Holstein Sunset, and his coffee-flavored—to be the best we’ve ever had.
A farther jaunt north brought us to an area near Questa, called Wild Rivers. Here, a byway meanders along the rim of the Rio Grande Gorge, offering stunning view after stunning view, and all leading up to the confluence of the Rio Grande and the Red River at La Junta Point. This too-little-known vista quickly made it on my list of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Perhaps it was because it had been raining, or maybe it was because we reeked of “newly-weddedness” for miles, but my groom and I managed to have the whole breathtaking spot to ourselves, despite the fact that it was peak season. A self-service pay station (a day pass is $3 per car), picnic benches and romantic trails made for a perfect private afternoon.
“Grocery store” in Tres Piedras
The journey west from our homebase took us to the famous little brother of the Grande Canyon, the Rio Grande Gorge, and gorge-ous it was. We enjoyed a walk along the length of the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge with stops to spit over the side—don’t worry, no one was down there—and made our way to the line of roadside vendors selling souvenirs, knick-knacks and artisan jewelry. Continuing farther north and west brought us to the tiny town of Tres Piedras. We went cluelessly in hopes of finding and climbing the town’s namesake—“three stones”—and found instead only a small café, an abandoned grocery store, a post office and a friendly dog.
Between sleeping off the wedding hangover, vegging to the Summer Olympics and simply enjoying being married, we didn’t see nearly as much on our short trip as we’d like to. On our next escapade to our new favorite corner of New Mexico, we plan to spend more time exploring the history of the area, including Taos Pueblo, the historic village of Chimayo and Fort Union National Monument along the Santa Fe Trail. Our outdoor adventures-bucket list includes the resorts of Red River and Angel Fire, as well as Conchas Lake, the Capulin Volcano National Monument and Wheeler Peak (New Mexico’s highest boast). I attest that we didn’t drink nearly enough. Our next tour will include pit stops at Taos Mesa Brewing, theKTAOS Solar Restaurant and Bar, Eske’s Brew Puband the Adobe Bar at the Taos Inn for some live music.
There aren’t enough days in the summer to visit and enjoy all the must-sees of our great state, but this fantastic quadrant is a grand place to start. From shopping to climbing to sightseeing to eating, NENM—an acronym I’ve just created—has it all. So get going.
Events to keep an eye out for this summer:
• Mother’s Day Rio Grande Whitewater Festival May 10-12 Orilla Verde Recreation Area, Pilar, N.M. • Inaugural Taos Lilac Festival May 17-19 • Taos Solar Music Festival Featuring Mumford and Sons June 6 at Kit Carson Park • The Red River Fine Art and Wine Festival June 15-16 at Brandenburg Park • The 28th Annual Taos Pueblo Pow Wow July 12-14 • The Gravity Mountain Bike Nationals at Angel Fire August 2-4