4 Enchanting Reasons to Spend Autumn in Taos

An autumn in Taos is often thought to be one of the best vacations you can take within the US from September to November. A small town in north-central New Mexico, Taos is usually given as proof as to why New Mexico deserves the nickname “The Land of Enchantment.” You will see this clearly when you visit Taos in fall.

Exactly why should you spend autumn in Taos? We have four reasons why you may find this town enchanting in the fall season.

Reason #1: The magnificent fall foliage

autumn in taos: enchanted circle scenic byway
A scene on the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway | Elisa Rolle/Wikimedia Commons

The mountains and valleys surrounding Taos are covered with stands of aspen. The aspens share space with conifers as they rise to higher ground. These trees are splendid to look at any time of the year. But when autumn rolls in, the verdant leaves of the aspen turn into brilliant gold. These golden canopies provide a sharp contrast against the evergreen of the conifers, and the sight can take your breath away. This magnificent fall foliage is the reason why Taos is counted among the best leaf-peeping destinations in the US.

You can drink in the beauty of Taos’ fall foliage while hiking or biking. Among the best places to indulge in these outdoor activities is Garcia Park Trail within Carson National Forest. If you prefer a scenic drive, the 85-mile Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway is a delightful treat.

Reason #2: The vibrant art scene

To call Taos an artsy town is kind of an understatement. The natural beauty surrounding the town, as well as the mystique of the adjacent Taos Pueblo, has attracted numerous artists over the decades. Many of these artists inevitably make Taos their home.

Taos has three museums. The Harwood Museum of Art, owned by the University of New Mexico, is the second-oldest art museum in the state. It’s home to thousands of Hispanic artworks and craftworks, as well as the works of local Taos artists. The Millicent Rogers Museum celebrates New Mexico’s diversity through its extensive collections of Native American, Hispanic, and Anglo-American art. The Taos Art Museum, on the other hand, focuses almost exclusively on the works of the members of the Taos Society of Artists. Additionally, Taos has around 80 private galleries, many of which belong to the Taos Society of Artists.

Fall is a good time to visit these museums and galleries. Autumn in Taos is a lot less crowded than in summer. Thus, you can admire the artworks in these places in relative peace, without being jostled by crowds. And if you schedule your Taos vacation for September, you can catch the Paseo Outdoor Art Festival and the Taos Fall Art Festival.

Reason #3: The rich culture

It goes without saying that culture influences art and art enriches culture. The art scene of Taos is rich because the town’s culture is rich. Taos is actually a melting pot of cultures. Native Americans have lived in the area for millennia and have their own beliefs and traditions. The Spaniards brought their own way of living when they colonized Taos in 1615, and their descendants still practice their customs to this day. Other people who have come to settle in Taos—Europeans, Americans from the East Coast, and others—have also contributed to Taos culture.

You can experience this culture for yourself when you visit the town’s famous landmarks, such as the Historic Taos Plaza and the San Francisco de Asis Church. A must-see is Taos Pueblo, one of the oldest continuously inhabited Native American communities in the country. Taos Pueblo is both a US National Historic Landmark and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These landmarks are likely to have special events and other activities for the fall.

Reason #4: The tasty Southwestern food

Taos is a foodie town with a lively restaurant scene and a strong farm-to-table tradition. If you want to sample authentic Southwestern food prepared with mostly organic ingredients, Taos is a good place for it. Spice is life for Taoseños, and you can indulge in that delightful burn by diving into a bowl of their unique chiles—using either red or green chile peppers, but often both. There’s booze a-plenty in Taos too if you’re up to it, and you need to try the local wines and craft beers. And before you head back home, you have to make sure that you’ve packed enough of the local chocolate to hoard or give away as you please.

Autumn in Taos is a great time to visit for the food. The town holds its annual Sabor: A Taste of Taos food festival in early October. During this weeklong fest, local restaurants prepare special samplers to showcase their place’s specialties and to celebrate Taos cuisine in general.

If you’re looking for a fall holiday destination, Taos is ideal. It doesn’t matter whether you visit for the food, the arts scene, the culture, or the fall foliage—you’re sure to find autumn in Taos an enchanting time.

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Anna is a wandering writer. If she isn't wandering, she's working on other blogs. And if she's not doing that, either she's reading or she's busy with a crafting project.