Just 700 or so words to write a story about the best landscape vistas around Taos? You don’t even understand how challenging this is. Taos is home to a slew of fantastic photographers. Not only have we come here for a lifestyle we love but because Taos truly sits smack dab in one of the most stunningly beautiful landscapes in the world.
Taos Gorge Bridge
The obvious top choice is the Gorge Bridge. You’ll find this massive steel arch hanging 650 feet above the mighty river about 11 miles northwest of Taos. From the sidewalks along the bridge, hang on and look straight down. Whoa! To the east, the snow-capped peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains tower above the villages tucked against their base.
The top of Lobo Peak in the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Area is a bit of a challenge to reach but photographer Gak Stonn has no doubt that it is worth the effort. “Lobo Peak affords the most epic view of the upper Río Grande Valley seeing most of the Sangre de Cristos as well as the fine slice of the Río Grande Gorge as it edges its way southward along the valley floor.” The trailhead is located on the road to the ski valley. Be prepared for quite a hike. Likewise be prepared to be stunned to silence once you reach the top.
La Junta Point at The Wild Rivers
Forty miles north of Taos, just past the gateway village of Questa is La Junta Point, without a doubt one of the more impressive views in the whole state. The jutting volcanic edge hangs above the confluence of the Río Grande and Red Rivers. From here you can also see north to Ute Mountain and on into Colorado as well as west across the wilds of our National Monument. Unlike Lobo, this one is easy. Wild Rivers offers a universally accessible visitor center, picnic areas, drinking fountains and restrooms.
Too easy you say? Well let’s head back up into the Columbine-Hondo along the Gavilan Trail. The Gavilan Trail is the steepest and fastest route to the ridge connecting New Mexico’s highest peaks. The trailhead sits at the edge of Taos Ski Valley and climbs into a forest of towering pines and spruce. Before long you’ll break into meadows of alpine flowers. “Whether one makes it to the apex of Gavilan Ridge or only a step from the trailhead, the magnificence is astounding,” says Stonn.
About 11 miles south of Taos Plaza is an expansive area known as the Overlook. The best view is a pullout on the side of the road just before the pavement dives into the Horseshoe on the way south. “Northern New Mexico is a place surrounded by incredible views,” says photographer Steve Bundy. “But cresting the last hill to the plateau south of Taos and being greeted with the breathtaking view of the Río Grande Gorge, the valley split by its grandeur, can be a life-changing event.” Close by you can find the 2,600 acre Taos Valley Overlook section of the Río Grande del Norte National Monument. This is a recreation area dedicated to mountain biking, hiking and horseback riding. Every turn offers you another fabulous view of the expansive plateau.
Ash Mountain in the Valle Vidal
A 90 minute drive northeast of Taos will bring you to the Valle Vidal unit of the Carson National Forest. Breathtaking vistas and amazing wildlife abound at literally every turn of the narrow dirt road that winds its way through the area. But right smack in the middle lies Ash Mountain, an uplifted pile of broken shale that opens to 360 degree views from Colorado in the north to the Great Plains and Texas to the east, south where the plains meet the mountains and then to the peaks and mesas west. This isn’t a hard climb but it is time consuming so plan for a whole day’s adventure.
KTAOS Solar Center
Ok. Ok. I’ll go easy on your for the last two. Taos is home to the world’s first solar-powered radio station, KTAO. But it is more than a radio station these days. Today, a bar sits just outside the broadcast studio and out back is a grassy patio/music venue and a view of Taos Mountain that will suck the breath from your lungs. After hiking for the other vistas come to KTAO and sit with a beer, a basket of fries and let the kids roll down the grassy hills while you take in that mountain.
Just a mile or two south of the Solar Center is the Overland Sheepskin Company and several other local business including excellent sushi and a farm-to-table restaurant. Out back is another incredible view of Taos Mountain and the bulge of El Salto. Stretching across the grassy fields of Taos Pueblo to the base of the sacred mountain, this is the place to be at sunset when the slanted light of the golden hour nicks the tops of the trees and spreads pink across the face of the peak. “No matter the time of year or for that matter, the time of day, the mountain vistas of Pueblo Peak and Wheeler Peak anchored by the ochre colored grasses of the farmlands below is always a favorite place to photograph,” says Bundy.
“The view from the Overland is a scene I've photographed for many years. Over these years it's kind of become my ‘Monet Haystack’ series as I document the changing light, seasons and always present El Salto and Taos Mountain,” says photographer Geraint Smith of his favorite spot in Taos.