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Travel the River Road to Taos
... the River Road or "Low Road" to Taos is entered from 285 at Espanola and runs along SR 68 much of the way beside the Rio Grande River. You will pass San Juan Pueblo, Alcalde, Velarde, Embudo and Ranchos de Taos before arriving at Taos

Photos along the Rio Grande River and St. Francis of Asis Mission in Ranchos de Taos


Stay near the Riverroad Scenic Byway
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Scenic Routes


High Road
to Taos


Turquoise Trail

Santa Fe Trail

Hwy of Legends

Directions  ... the River Road or "Low Road" to Taos is entered from 285 at Espanola and runs along SR 68 much of the way beside the Rio Grande River. You will pass San Juan Pueblo, Alcalde, Velarde, Embudo and Ranchos de Taos before arriving at Taos

Interactive Map  To view scenes along the roads, place mouse over each camera eye, wait a few seconds, and a photo of the scenery will appear.

Shops in Taos near the Plaza with the mountain backdrop A  shop in Taos selling weavings Turn right or East at the plaza in Ranchos de Taos to find this church.   It has been the source of inspiration by many artists including Georgia O'Keeffe. The Rio Grande Gorge.  Further north it is bridged by one of the highest suspension bridges. Rock formations along the Rio Grande Whitewater expeditions on the Rio Grande River Local produce is sold at several stands along this river route. A swimming beach along the Rio Grande River A shop in Velarde Adobe Building Ranchos de Taos adobe shop.
View along the River Road to Taos
 

The Pueblos

When the Spanish arrived in the 16th century in search for gold, they found instead permanent settlements of mud and brick which they named "pueblos" after the towns they left behind.  The 19 pueblos of New Mexico are the oldest tribal communities in the US.   Ancestors of the inhabitants of these pueblos are thought to have previously inhabited Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde.

Pueblo is a term used to refer to the culture which is unique to the southwest rather than a particular tribe. Each of the pueblos are independent with their own government, social order, and traditions. In addition there are five languages spoken among these 19 pueblos, Tewa, Tiwa, Towa, Keresan or Zunian. The Tewa-speaking pueblos are Nambé, Pojoaque, San Ildefonso, Santa Clara, San Juan, and Tesuque. Tiwa-speaking pueblos are Isleta, Picurís, Sandia, and Taos. .

Some of the pueblos restrict visitors while others are more open to visitors. Many have fees for visiting and for photo taking. All have their own celebrations, some open to the public. In many you can purchase artwork and many have museums you can visit.


 


 
  • San Juan Pueblo, site of original capital of New Mexico in 1598.

  • "Alcalde", a settlement established in 1692.

  • The Onate Monument, art and culture exhibits

  • Velarde, an hispanic town noted for apple orchards

  • Many fruit stands selling the region's produce

  • Whitewater rafing along the Rio Grande

  • Ranchos de Taos plaza and St. Francis of Assisi Mission

  • Kit Carson Museum in Taos

  • Taos Pueblo

  • Between Santa Fe and Espanola on 285, see San Ildefanso, Santa Clara, and Tesuque Pueblos
 

The Pueblos of this Area

 

Taos Pueblo

 Taos Pueblo is one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in North America.  The Tiwa-speaking members of the old pueblo do not use electricity or indoor plumbing.   Known also as "the place of the red willows", it is known for its adobe, multistoried homes and in 1992 was designated a World Heritage Site.

The Taos people are very skilled in leatherwork especially drum making.   Visitors can enjoy Native foods and browse through shops scattered around the plaza.   The pueblo charges admission, parking and camera fees.  Admission: $10 adults and groups (three or more adults) $8, students (13-college) $5, children under 12 free. Hours are Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and Sunday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30p.m.


       
   

San Juan Pueblo

The San Juan Pueblo is located 5 miles North of Espanola on Hwy 68. It is the site of the original capital of New Mexico established by Juan de Onate under Spanish rule in 1598. About 100 of the original buildings still survive today. Located along the Rio Grande River, the pueblo land comprises 12,000 acreas and is the largest of the Tewe speaking pueblos.

Originally San Juan was a central Indian meeting ground. The tribe was so powerful only an O'ke (Tewe) native could declare war. Today it is the seat of the Northern Indian Pueblos Council.

Each year the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Arts and Crafts Show is held the 3rd weekend in July. The pueblo has a permanent site for the gathering. There are more that 500 booths and 1500 artists along with traditional dances, music, and pueblo food.

Fishing is available year round at the San Juan Lakes for a fee.   See Map

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Other Pueblos

San Ildefanso

The pueblo is best known as the home of the late Maria Martinez, internationally famous for her black-on-black matte pottery. San Ildefanso, since the early 1900s, has been the center of the Pueblo arts revival. The artisans homes located throughout the pueblo are open to the public for shopping.

Many from this pueblo including the late son of Maria and Julian, were employed during World War II in Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project.

The pueblo is located 23 miles north of Santa Fe via US 84/285, then west on NM 502. San Ildefonso's fishing pond and picnic areas are along the Río Grande, and permits are available on-site. There is also a museum and a visitor's center on site.

Nambe

The pueblo was established around the 1300s and served as a primary cultural and religious center for the Pueblo people. It sits at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains about 18 miles north of Santa Fe off Hwy 285 and NM 503. (See high road to Taos) Nambe Falls is located above the Pueblo and can be enjoyed for a small fee.

Picuris

This pueblo was once one of the largest in the area, but is now the smallest. The Spaniard Juan de Onate named this pueblo Picuria which means "those who paint.

A 200-year-old adobe church, San Lorenzo de Picurís, located in the center of the pueblo, has been restored. You can take self-guided tours of the excavated structures and camera permits are available. The pueblo is located 24 miles southeast of Taos via N.M. 68, 518 and 75.

Santa Clara

The ancestors of the Santa Clara people inhabited the nearby Puyé Cliff Dwellings. They are found along the Santa Clara Canyon, though the canyon is currently closed as a result of the 2000 Cerro Grande Fire.

The current pueblo was established in 1550. Santa Clara is famous for its polished black pottery which is for sale in the pueblo. The pueblo is located 1.5 miles south of Española of NM 30. Guided pueblo tours are available.

Tesuque Pueblo

 The word Tesuque means"village of the narrow place of the cottonwood trees." The pueblo, one of the smallest, is situated around a central plaza. It is believed that the pueblo may have sat on this site since 1200 AD.

 The pueblo is located 10 miles north of Santa Fe on US84/285, just south of the Camel Rock formation.  One of the main events in this pueblo open to the public is the Tesuque Pueblo Flea Market located on Opera Hill, just off U.S. 84/285 north of Santa Fe, with more than 1,200 booths every weekend from February to December.

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The Pueblo Revolt of 1680

Taos Pueblo is credited with leading the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 against the Spanish.   Pope was a leader from the San Juan Pueblo who moved to Taos in the 1670s. Disaffected with the Spanish subjection, he began to confer in 1675 with other Pueblo leaders.

Under Pope's leadership, a full scale revolt was planned. His vision was the expulsion of the all Spanish military and religious authority along with the elimination of all religious practices established by the priests, and the return of Pueblo deities. Despite language differences of the tribes and the great distances of the tribes from one another, on August 10, 1680, the pueblos attacked everywhere at once.

The survivers among the Spanish fled first to the Governor's Palace and those who remained after another seige made their way to El Paso.

After the Spanish left, Pope set himself up in the Governor's Palace as the ruler of the pueblos and collected tribute from the communities in the region. He punished the speaking of Spanish and banned the use of Spanish surnames. The Spanish returned in 1696 to reestablish control, but by this time Pope had died.

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