Photo: Pueblos

Old pueblos in Taos

Photograph by Myles McGuinness, Aurora Photos

Pop. 5,551
GPS: 36°23'N 105°34'W

Taos has served as the muse for Ansel Adams and the stomping ground for mesa desert lovers. The artists’ colony is a mecca for outdoor pursuits. Ride everything from a llama to a hot air balloon to get the best views of the Rio Grande Gorge and the Taos Plateau volcanic field.


Mountain climbers of all levels can tackle insane multi-pitch routes in the Rio Grande Gorge. The Mountain Skills Rock Climbing School also leads yoga sessions when you reach the summit ($253 for six hours; Mountain bikers can ride along the West Rim Trail for nine miles, a woozy 1,000 feet (305 meters) above the Rio Grande.


The inevitable wait for a table is well worth it at Rellenos Cafe, an organic Mexican restaurant serving up cheap (everything's under $10) and authentic local favorites. Once you grab a seat on the outside patio, try the unique smoked salmon quesadilla, blue crab enchilada, or the chile relleno en nogada—a poblano stuffed with beef, raisins, and walnuts, and smothered in a brandy cream sauce (+1 505 758 7001).


The Taos Inn, located in the heart of the historic district, offers rooms with pueblo-style fireplaces and killer margaritas at the Adobe Bar right on the premises (doubles from $75;