Taos Pueblo is one of North America’s oldest and best preserved communities. These lands have been continually inhabited by the Red Willow people for more than 1,000 years.

The society of about 1,900 people live on it’s 99,000 acres.

The village rests at an elevation of 7,200 feet at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Northern New Mexico, just one mile from Taos.

This incredible site is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Historic Landmark.

Taos Pueblo UNESCO World Heritage Site & National Historic Landmark

Taos Pueblo became a National Historic Landmark in 1965 and a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992.

The current adobe buildings were built around 1000-1450 AD and houses about 150 full-time residents.

There is no electricity, running water or other modern conveniences inside these dwellings. The settlement is surrounded by the remains of a defensive adobe wall. The other members of the nation live in modern homes near their fields.

The Red Willow people were culturally influenced by the Spanish, who first arrived in 1540 while looking for the famous “Seven Cities of Gold” also known as the “Seven Cities of Cibola”. The Spanish explorers thought Taos Pueblo was one of the places of this great wealth and that the buildings were made out of gold. The explores may have thought that because when the sun rays hit the pueblo, it glistens from the mica found in the clay.

The first Catholic church was built by Spanish Jesuits in 1619. This church was badly damaged in 1690, but remains of the church tower can be seen inside the Pueblo. A new church, San Geronimo de Taos, built in 1850 is still in use. Almost 90 per cent of the village’s people today are Catholic, but ancient Indigenous religious ceremonies are also performed and kivas are found on site.

Just east of the current pueblo location, earlier ruins built about 1325 AD remain called Cornfield Taos. Cornfield Taos is a sacred Pueblo site.

Find out more about Taos Pueblo.

Taos Pueblo Adobe Architecture New Mexico

The entire Pueblo is constructed of adobe, with the main building likely dating 1000-1450 AD. The buildings are stacked five stories high and built side-by-side.

The structure is formed with bricks made of sun-dried mud mixed with water and straw. Each year the adobe is refreshed in celebratory ceremony, adding another layer of the plaster-like coating.

Walls are mostly several feet thick, ranging from about 14 inches to 28 inches. Roofs are held up by pine or aspen logs, branches and grasses topped with thick mud.

The inside walls are washed white. Ladders are used to access various levels of the home and the roof.

Originally the adobe would have been accessed through the hole in the roof, reached by a long wooden ladder.

This unique pre-Hispanic adobe North American architecture can be found in 18 other Pueblo communities around the region in New Mexico and Arizona.

The traditional Pueblo design has been adopted many places in the southwest and in New Mexico’s contemporary Pueblo Revival style architecture.

Adobe Architecture Taos Pueblo National Historic Landmark UNESCO World Heritage Site

Adobe Architecture Taos Pueblo National Historic Landmark and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Photo: New Mexico True

Taos Pueblo adobe architecture is made from mud and straw.

Taos Pueblo adobe architecture is made from mud and straw. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©

Artisans of Taos Pueblo

Local artisans craft goods made from animal skins into boots, drums and moccasins and these are available for purchase.

Skilled artists create mica-flecked pottery, silver jewelry and fine art pieces made from natural materials.

Taos Pueblo Tours

Tours of Taos Pueblo are available about every 20 minutes, on the hour, and last about 30 minutes.

Photographs of people who live at the pueblo are not permitted without permission.

Taos Pueblo UNESCO World Heritage Site. Photo: New Mexico True

Taos Pueblo UNESCO World Heritage Site. Photo: New Mexico True

Taos Pueblo Hours and Admission

Taos Puelbo is open to the public every day from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. but closes for about 10 weeks of the year to outside visitors if there is a significant ceremony or religious event. These events typically occur in the winter and spring.

The annual Taos Pueblo POW WOW is held every July and is open to the public.

Taos Pueblo is currently closed due to COVID-19.

Check the calendar of events here for closures before you plan to arrive. When we visited, we were very disappointed to find out at the gate that it was closed for the day.

Admission: Adults – $16, Students and Seniors – $14, Children 10 and under are free.

Fast Facts about Taos Pueblo

  • The Taos Pueblo lands has a population of about 1,900 people living on the its 99,000 acres.
  • The village sits at an elevation of 7,200 feet.
  • Catholic is the main religion of 90 per cent of the Taos Pueblo population.
  • Taos Pueblo became a designated UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992.
  • The native language spoken by the Red Willow people of Taos Pueblo is called Tiwa. English and Spanish are also used.
  • There is no electricity or running water inside the Pueblo. Members of the community living outside these adobe structures live in modern homes near their fields.
  • There are 19 Pueblos in New Mexico.

How to get to Taos Pueblo, New Mexico

Take a scenic day trip from Santa Fe on the High Road to Taos.

The round-trip route will take 3 1/2 to 4 hours without stops.

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Wendy Nordvik-Carr is a highly regarded travel writer who produces quality, well-researched articles with stunning photography and video.
She seeks out authentic experiences showcasing the people, culture and history that make each destination unique. Her focus is on solo, couple and multigenerational travel through cruising, air and road trip adventures.

Wendy is the editor & writer for LifesIncredibleJourney.com, a travel site that encourages exploration of destinations near & far.

She is a TMAC Director, Chair, National PD Committee and Chair of TMAC's BC & Yukon Chapter, as well as a member of SATW & NATJA.