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“Wow”
Review of Taos Pueblo

Taos Pueblo
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$75.00*
and up
Taos Highlights Small-Group Driving Tour
Ranked #14 of 102 things to do in Taos
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: Taos Pueblo is the only living Native American community designated both a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a National Historic Landmark. The multi-storied adobe buildings have been continuously inhabited for over 1000 years. We welcome you to visit our village when you travel to northern New Mexico.Taos Pueblo Hours: Monday - Saturday 8:00am-4:00pm and Sunday 8:30am-4:00pm.Guided Tours available daily starting at 9:00 am.Pueblo Shops open daily.Taos Pueblo is expected to be open for the winter season. Any closures would be due to unexpected events within the community and will be posted on our official website.
Reviewed July 9, 2013

This places was great to visit, we were able to talk with a local and he invited us into his home so that we can feel and touch the earth.

Thank Mary P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 9, 2013

We visited Taos in May when the weather was not yet too hot and as the main attraction there is the Taos Pueblo we included that in our visit. For people not familiar with the area there are 3 Taos's. First is the town of Taos where most of the lodging, restaurants, galleries and museums are. Second is Rancho de Taos (a few miles south of the town of Taos) where the photogenic San Francisco de Asis church is. The third, and most popular, is the Taos Pueblo (a few miles North of Town of Taos) and what this review is about.

Taos Pueblo is a 1000 year old village settled and occupied by the Pueblo Indian tribe and is the de-facto standard of the Pueblo style architecture (also called Southwest Architecture). The village consists of two distinct areas. In general it is small town made up of tribe members living in Adobe and other style homes, very similar to countless other small Indian towns throughout the southwest. In these sections of the town we see modest homes, pickup trucks, livestock, etc. But, what sets Taos Pueblo apart from many other such areas is the center of the village that is the original village. It covers about 19 acres and is what you're here to see.

The Taos Pueblo is over 1,000 years old and is believed to be the oldest continually occupied settlement in the USA. The portion of Taos Pueblo Inside the walls is what the rest of this review is about and that I'll just call "the Pueblo". Like many such sites it is a World Heritage site, but what sets it apart from many other ancient Indian sites is that it is still occupied and is home to many Pueblo tribe members and maintains it's ancient life style and culture. In other words it's like it was way back in time. There is no electricity and no running water other than a river that flows through it. The inhabitants are permitted to drive their vehicles into the Pueblo but for the most part the vehicles are kept out of site.

I won't go into all the things about this village and culture that you can read in other places other than to describe the main features. The Pueblo is a large open area in the middle surrounded by buildings. Most are 1, 2, and 3 story adobe homes many of which are in blocks - sort of like apartment buildings. There is also the ruins of the original San Geronimo Church which was built during the Spanish occupation of the area in 1619 using Indian slave labor and destroyed by the US army during an Indian revolt in 1847. The only thing left of this church is the bell tower and surrounding cemetery. The replacement San Geronimo Church in the pueblo is still in use today.

Now, let's get to photography (see photos included with this review). The pueblo, as a tourist attraction, is operated by the people who live there and they are very protective if their customs and traditions. In addition, their ability to maintain this site comes from tourism and earning money from commercial use of images taken inside the pueblo. When you visit the site, parking is free but you will need to pay an entrance fee of $10 per person over 10 years old ($6 for students). This entrance fee includes a 20-30 minute guided tour. But, you will also need to pay a $6 fee per camera you take in (including cell phones but it doesn't seem that they enforce the cell phone part all that much). When you pay your camera fee they will attach a little tag to it with some string showing that you paid the fee. If you have a DSLR or tripod you will be questioned about your intended use of the images. The deal is that the $6 fee covers personal use of the images but not professional use. In other words if you intend to sell your images then there is an entirely different fee structure. I don't know what it is but I think it's in the couple of hundred dollar range. However, if you explain that you are just a hobbyist and the images are just for you and your family, you can get in with just the $6 fee per camera. But, be honest about it. I have no idea if I will sell an image taken there or not. If I should be so fortunate as to sell one (not likely as I've yet to sell any image), I'll contact them and pay the higher fee. However, I do intend to post my images on my web site (www.danhartfordphoto.com), facebook, flickr, etc. which is considered editorial (not commercial) use and as such I presume falls within their $6 fee usage.

So, if you're a serious non professional shooter what should you know?

Pueblo architecture is very boxy with lots of rectangles, angles, offset blocks, and corners whose shadows make marvelous triangular shapes and patterns when the sun is lower in the sky. The Pueblo is only open from 8:00 to 4:00 so unless you pre-arrange special ($$$$) permission for dawn or dusk you're not going to get those shots. However, being there near the opening time of 8:00 is a must for several reasons. First is the sun is still somewhat low giving you those wonderful shadows. Second is that up till around 10:00 (at least in May) you can get long shots across the open central area without tourists in them. And third (and maybe most important) is that the locals tend to open their shops in the late morning (around 10:30 or 11:00 am). When they open, they place signs out front advertising their wares, and place modern tables with souvenirs for sale out front, and hang goods all over the front of their store. All of this totally ruins the ancient look of the buildings. A little bit is fine but as the day wears on it really turns into more of a tourist shopping mall making it harder and harder to get shots that don't include the merchandising.

When you get there between 8:00 and 9:00, skip the free guided tour and go right into shooting the ruins of the original San Geronimo church and grave yard. Then go over and shoot the exterior of the replacement San Geronimo church. You need to do this now because the front of the new church is where people wait for the free guided tour and later in the day you will not be able to get a tourist free shot of it. Be sure to use the arch in the church wall as a framing device and take notice of the crosses on top of that arch and on top of the church.

Follow this with long shots across the courtyard that show entire blocks of buildings. Like at the church you may have to wait a few minutes for stray tourists to move out of the frame but I didn't find it too difficult. Use a polarizing filter to keep the sky a rich blue if needed and perhaps a graduated neutral density filter if the sky is too bright.

Then wander closer to the buildings around the main central area and shoot medium and detail shots with a medium to wide angle lens. As the buildings surrounding the central open area are where most of the shops and stores will be opening up later, it's good to get shots of these buildings before the merchandise and signs come out. Be sure to get those wonderful shadows of the roof support logs that protrude from the building walls as well as the great striped shadows on the ground and walls of overhead log drying racks and shade structures. The many log ladders propped up on the sides of buildings along with their shadows make wonderfully graphic photos.

Now continue with shots along the smaller pathways between and behind the buildings that surround the main central area (where permitted). Here you can also start to include close up detail shots of adobe ovens, those great blue doors, and other details that catch your eye.

Once you've completed this round of the site (on both sides of the river) is the time to jump onto the free guided tour which will take you to many of the same places you've already been. But now you can get the background, history, and understanding of what you've just photographed. Here is where you can start including your family along with the architecture.

After the tour, be sure to poke you head into the new church and is the time to frequent the many shops and stores that have opened around the pueblo.

On our visit we got to the Pueblo around 8:30 am and were done around 11:00 am

If you found this information useful in your decision making process or you gleaned information you may not otherwise have discovered, or you just enjoyed reading it, please give me a "helpful" vote.

10  Thank Califdan69
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 9, 2013

Some beautiful artwork and jewelry. Friendly people. Interesting architecture. Interesting history. My advice would be for a group to save money by only buying one camera pass, as there's just not that much to photograph, at least not when there is not a festival, dance, or celebration going on. The church is beautiful.

Thank phoenix_dog
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 8, 2013

Otherwise a ski town, I found Taos very similar to other well off American towns, until I visited the taos pueblo. It's useless to visit Taos without going to see the pueblo reservation. Be sure to read brochure they give you and be respectful . It's like traveling back in time, with a culture that somehow perseveres perhaps because they have such a strong community, really not heard of much anymore hardly anywhere in this country. Refreshing for the soul. My only warning is that it may change how insanely materialistic the rest of the country is in comparison. But hey even if buying lots of stuff and paying for space to put it is your thing, there's Amazing art and food , instruments , jewelry , bow & arrows... And much more. I couldn't leave without wanting to take treasure back :) have fun, & be kind

Thank Holytoaledo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 6, 2013

We have great respect for the people living here. Previously, we went in to the pueblo and before deciding to view this site further, we left. We felt like we were intruding. The people didn't make us feel like this, still we left. We try to visit historical sites and certainly this is one. In February, again we wanted to see the pueblo and it was closed due to ceremonial activities. Take note, It may be closed without notice due to these and other activies. The paved road leading to it was blocked by law enforcement due to the temporary closing. A local merchant at the Taos Plaza and friend of the pueblo told us it was closed for three weeks. Not a problem, we visited other sites.

For the history, I would go, explore to the extent allowed, and learn. I would not take children, but this is a personal decision. Visiting the Taos Pueblo is a learning experience, not entertainment. It's humbling.

Thank RikiUSA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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