Gardens, parks, meadows and riverside: great picnic spots in Taos

By Cindy Brown
For the Taos News
Posted 7/26/19

July is National Picnic Month and a great time to get out in Taos for some outdoor dining.

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Gardens, parks, meadows and riverside: great picnic spots in Taos

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July is National Picnic Month and a great time to get out in Taos for some outdoor dining. According to the National Day Calendar website, “Picnics hearken back to mid-18th-century al fresco dining. A bottle of wine, a loaf of bread, some cheese and fruit made for an instant meal under the sky. The word picnic is derived from the French word piquenique.” (National Picnic Month was started by the American Bakers’ Association in 1952. Visit nationaldaycalendar.com.)

Here are a few local favorite spots for picnics.

Fechin House

The gorgeous garden of the Taos Art Museum at Fechin House is open to the public daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. The garden has orange day lilies, red roses and blue delphinium in full bloom near a bubbling waterfall. There are benches in the garden and tables with umbrellas on the patio near the museum.

The garden is a favorite spot for morning coffee or a game of chess and has grassy shaded areas that are perfect for picnics. While you are there, take time to visit the impressive art collection housed in the former home of Nicolai Fechin. The museum features the work of Fechin, along with paintings by the Taos Society of Artists and others. Taos County residents are free every Sunday.

The Taos Art Museum at Fechin House garden is located at 227 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. Call (575) 758-2690 for more information or visit taosartmuseum.org.

Homestead Garden Arroyo Seco

A homesteader’s cabin from the 1860s that belonged to the family of Alferino Martinez in the mountains south of Peñasco is at the center of this pocket park in Arroyo Seco. The cabin was dismantled in 2010 and moved here when the park was developed by Jeanie Clinton, owner of the Arroyo Seco Mercantile next door.

The park include roses, hollyhocks in bloom and a flowing creek water feature. A vine-covered ramada with a low table provides a perfect spot for a picnic, as do the grassy areas of the park.

While you are there, you can stop into the Arroyo Seco Mercantile, or pick up some picnic food from Sol Food Market or Abe’s Cantina and Cocina. The Taos Cow ice cream stand is open for dessert after the picnic. Nearby is the original Church of the Holy Trinity, built before 1834.

The Homestead Garden is located at 488 State Road 150 (Taos Ski Valley Road). Call (575) 776-8806 for more information or visit secomerc.com.

Mountain Meadows – Agua Piedra

Outside of town, you will find trails that take you up into the high country or down to the Río Grande. As you begin your hike, look around for picnic tables or meadows near the trailhead. You can also take your picnic with you to your destination whether it be a mountain top or a spot by the river.

One favorite sport is the large meadow near the Agua Piedra Trail (Carson National Forest trail #19A), located southeast of Taos. The trailhead is near the horse corral at the Agua Piedra Campground. Follow the trail as it climbs gently and look off to the right of the trail for the large meadow. This makes a great picnic spot before or after a hike. If you continue up the trail and pass through a gate, you will find Agua Piedra Creek. In the wet areas near the creek there are wildflowers blooming; look for blue columbine, pink shooting stars and golden pea flowers.

At the entrance to the campground, there is a log cabin that was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps and served as a warming hut for one of the earliest ski areas in New Mexico. The cabin is now used for events like family reunions.

To get to the Agua Piedra Trailhead: from Taos Plaza, drive south just over 3.5 miles on Paseo del Pueblo to the traffic signal at State Road 518. Turn left here and go about 23 miles on State Road 518. Look for the sign to the right for the Agua Piedra Campground. Turn here; cross the bridge and go left. Follow the road up the hill less than a mile and park at the corral. For more information, contact the Carson National Forest at (575) 758-6200.

Near the Río Hondo

There are a series of campgrounds along the Río Hondo on the Taos Ski Valley Road (State Road 150). Camping and day use are free here and there are picnic tables located in shady spots right on the river.

The first campground, Lower Hondo, is currently closed due to the need to remove some trees to ensure the safety of campers and picnickers. Just up the road are Cuchilla and Cuchilla del Medio campgrounds, which have some nice spots to spread out your picnic on a table or on a grassy spot near the river.

To find the campgrounds, drive north on Paseo del Pueblo from Taos Plaza four miles to the intersection with NM 150 and US 64. Turn right, drive five miles, passing through Arroyo Seco. Continue up the road and look for the campgrounds near mile marker 8.

To find out more about campgrounds and day use possibilities, stop by the Carson National Forest supervisor’s office at 208 Cruz Alta Road or call (575) 758-6200 or visit fs.usda.gov/carson

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