Taos Pueblo Insiders Guide
Often people ask me about travel etiquette when visiting Taos Pueblo. What is appropriate attire? Can I take photographs? What are my suggestions for shopping? Do you tip the guides? Being apart of this living community of Taos has instilled within me a deep reverence for this cultural living story that is vibrantly alive! When I think about Taos Pueblo, it makes me emotive to consider that we are so privileged this opportunity to visit such a community that still celebrates and lives in its traditional ways exposing their living room to the public.
I have been fortunate enough to take many guests on my tours to visit Taos Pueblo for nearly a decade. The Department of Tourism has done an incredible job with generously enhancing the visitor experience over the years. Currently, they are in the final stages of developing a new Visitors Map that will be provided when you purchase your entry. This will be a fantastic improvement for the visitor to navigate the North and South houses and also take home a souvenir.
On the topic of cameras and cell phones, the great news is you CAN takes photos in the Taos Pueblo! What a photographer and traveler paradise to capture the colors and textures of this UNESCO World Heritage Site through your lens. When you purchase your entry this includes a camera pass. Here are some specific boundaries to observe:
- They ask their visitors to please observe the “Restricted Area” signs at residential homes and the sites of their native religious practices.
- Do not enter doors or homes that are not clearly marked as businesses.
- If you would like to take a photograph of someone ask his or her permission.
- You can take photographs of the outside of the San Geronimo Chapel, but you cannot take them inside.
- Respect the cemetery by not entering and stay on the periphery of the adobe wall.
- The Rio de Pueblo is their sole source of drinking water, honor it by not getting into the river.
I love the way Ilona Spruce, Director of Tourism at Taos Pueblo shares it:
“Taos Pueblo is opening it’s home to the public wholeheartedly. Like being in someone else’s home there are customs to be observed and honored. As community members our request of visitors is offer respect for the life that has continued on for over 1,000 years.”
When deciding what to wear consider that this is an ancient dwelling over 1,000 years old and your visit will be walking in dirt or gravel. It is not a hike into the Pueblo, parking is located just outside the entrance at ground level. Often there is a misconception that there will be “hiking” into the pueblo. To clarify, it is a short flat walk from the parking lot. The Rio de Pueblo divides the North and South houses with a few bridges to walk over. With the elevation of the Pueblo at 7,119′, consider on sunny days (which is very often in Taos!) applying sunscreen, wearing a hat and sunglasses and, bringing water.
I would highly suggest trying the local bread often baked in a Horno, an outdoor adobe made oven that looks similar to a beehive. Most mornings you’ll see Bertha just past the San Geronimo Chapel making her fry bread and Indian red and green chili, as well as other items. Each food vendor has their own unique family traditional way of making their Indian chili, Horno baked bread or fry bread, so don’t be shy to try a few different vendors.
To learn more about this history, heritage, culture and stories enjoy the guided tours that are offered starting at 9:00am all day every 20 minutes. The Department of Tourism has worked hard to inspire their students to train and learn about their own history and heritage to become Tour Guides. It’s a great opportunity for these students to become intimate with their own heritage while also articulating from a personal perspective having grown up on Pueblo Land. This is an unpaid position that relies on visitors to tip. So the answer is yes, tips are welcomed and very much appreciated!
There are several homes that are now galleries or gift shops all throughout the pueblo on both sides of the river. These will have signs or the vendors will have tables outside selling their own unique handcrafted work.
“Taos Pueblo is known for micaceous clay pottery and buckskin crafts. We also keep the trading spirit of our ancestors by selling a variety of goods from jewelry to wood crafts from other tribal nations. We have an array of shops and galleries for you to explore and visit.” Noreen Mirabal, Coordinator of Tourism
If you are parking, there are attendants who direct you where to park. The Administration Office where you purchase tickets are located directly in front of the entrance. When you enter, to your right is a small building where you can meet the Tour Guide for an interpretive experience. This would be my first experience so that I was familiarized with the layout of the Taos Pueblo. Enjoy your visit to Taos Pueblo!