Taos to Pagosa Springs

Trip Start May 21, 2008
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Trip End May 30, 2008


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Flag of United States  , Colorado
Friday, May 23, 2008

We're up early and headed to the Taos Plaza. Yep, we know the stores aren't open, but this 1700's plaza is a "not miss."

Then over to the Taos Pueblo to get our tickets for the Pueblo Tour. I love pleasant surprises, and just got one. Rich, who I met in my AEL days, is now working on tourism for the Pueblo, and is opening the visitor center.

Taos Pueblo, or Pueblo de Taos, is an ancient pueblo inhabited over 1000 years by the Northern Tiwa speaking Native American trive of Pueblo People. The Red Willow Creek, or Rio Pueblo, is a small stream which flows through the middle of the pueblo from its source in the Sangre de Cristo Range. More than 1, 900 people live on the 95.000 acre reservation. In the Tiwa language, the name of Taos is Tua-tah, which means "our village." Taos pueblo's most prominent architectural feature is two multi-storied residentail complexes of reddish-brown adove, divided by the Rio Pueblo river. The pueblo was built between 100 and 1450 A.D.

The pueblo was designated a Historic Landmark in 1960 and became a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1992. Currently about 150 people live in it full-time.

The history of Taos Pueblo includes the plotting of the Pueblo Revolt in 1680, a siege by U.S. forces in 1847, and the return by President Nixon in 1970 of the Pueblo's 48,000 acres of mountain land taken by President Theodore Roosevelt and designated as the Carson National Forest early in the 20th century.

Blue Lake, which the people of the Pueblo traditionally consider sacred, was included in the return of Taos land. The acquisition of the sacred Blue Lake was the most important event in Taos history due to the spiritual belief that the Taos natives originated from the lake itself.

The North-Side Pueblo is said to be one of the most photographed and painted buildings in the Western Hemisphere. It is the largest multi[storied Pueblo structure still existing. It's made of adobe walls that are several feet thick. Its primary purpose was for defense. UP to as late as 1900, access to the rooms on the lower floors was by ladders located on the outside of the roof, and then down an inside ladder. In case of an attack, outside ladders could easily be pulled up.

The homes in this structure usually consist of two rooms, one of which is for general living and sleeping. The other for cooking, eating and storage. Each home is self-contained. There are no passageways between the houses. Indoor plumbing and electricity is prohibited.

The pueblo wall completely encloses the village except at the entrance as a symbol of the village boundaries. Now rather short, the wall previously was much taller for protection against surrounding tribes.

The river running through the pueblo serves as the primary source for drinking and cooking water for the residents of the village. In the winter, the river never completely freezes, although it does form a heavy layer of ice. Because the river moves so swiftly, the ice can be broken to obtain the fresh water beneath.

The deep feeling of belonging to a community, summed up in their phrase "we are in one nest," has held the Taos people together.

Take the "tour." It is the best way to discover the history and customs of these unique culture. You will miss so much if you just walk thru this Pueblo without knowing its history and customs.

Next, off to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, which lies 6 miles to west of Taos Pueblo. The Gorge was part of a natural defense system for the Taos Indians. It's the world's second highest suspenion bridge. Most tourists just stand on the bridge and take photos. BUT you should get off the bridge and hit the hiking trails on the south side. To see the Gorge from the bottom up -it's 800 feet to the bottom - (if you don't want to hike down to the bottom, ride the Royal Gorge Railroad.
While we were at the Gorge, we saw lots of large rafts shooting the rapids.

Next stop was to get a photo at the Continental Divide. Then we found snow and had to play in it, before arriving at Pagosa Springs.
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