Five Signs: You’re in Taos, New Mexico

Geography Essay
Photos and captions by Nathan Mattise

College is a time for excessive sleeping, partying, *studying*…. and traveling. It’s one of the finer points of college because there are no real commitments to hold you back. So in the spirit of good roadtrip, In the Pursuit of the Trivial offers the Five Signs series. It’s a photo-documentary account from an exotic location done through the signs ready to greet every and all tourists. Today, welcome to Taos, N.M.

Rio Grande Gorge Bridge - long enough name for you?1. “Persons Throwing Objects Off Bridge May Be Prosecuted” – Rio Grande Gorge Bridge at Rio Grande Gorge

One of the must-sees in Taos, N.M. requires you pull off the road and walk alongside a 65mph highway. This bridge overlooks the Rio Grande River and Gorge from 650-feet above. The bridge is 500 feet long and, yes, it does wobble when the cars go by. The bridge also led to our second sign on this virtual tour of Taos…

Why don't I carry my carving knife everywhere??!

2. “Chris ’94” – Same location as above

Besides looking over the bridge, one of the cool things to do is apparently etch your mark on it. The bridge is 500-feet-long. So given my calculations, there are at least 567,894,321 different carvings on it. Still, even Chris from ’94 wasn’t as original as these guys when leaving his mark.

This is about the only thing that's restricted.

3. “-Restricted Area- Do Not Enter” – Taos Pueblo

Pueblos are one of the great sites to see regardless of where you are in New Mexico. The Taos Pueblo in particular has some very cool architecture… most of which are buildings where people are selling you things. It’s very sad how commercialized the pueblos have become and how these people have to live their daily lives while tourists watch and take pictures. The Taos Pueblo really represented that change in culture over time for me.

(And yes, it is inappropriate for me to link to that retro ad in the “very sad” link. I apologize.)

Park your armadillo and get up the mountain!

4. “Armadillo Parking / RV Parking” – Taos Mountains

The view from the arcade was better, but how can you pass up an armadillo parking sign? The Taos mountain range was beautiful and nearly all of the various paths we found took an estimated hour to hour-and-a-half before reaching the summit. Needless to say, we didn’t make it (the ski lift was $10, what college kid has that disposable income?).

Carson memorial graveyard in Taos, N.M. - spooky.

5. “Soldier Memorial” – Carson Graveyard just off Taos Plaza

Taos Plaza featured two statues. One was a nice veterans’ memorial to commemorate Taos’ finest who unfortunately ended up like the soldier above. The other was to commemorate Kit Carson, a frontiersman who was prominent in the town’s beginnings but upon further review really treated a lot of Native Americans poorly. Fittingly, a gorilla on the way to the graveyard received more attention than Carson when I was there.

And that’s it from Taos, N.M. and my two-day trip of touristing and enjoying nature. Below there are a few signs that didn’t quite make the cut, and I’ll make sure to keep you posted on the next adventure.

Please, help us keep our river clean,” “Tribal Government Parking Only,” “Dumpster for rest area use only.”

(Links today from Wikipedia, YouTube and various Taos travel sites)

If you want to yell at Nate for this idea because it’s dumb, e-mail him. If you don’t think Taos, N.M. is exciting enough, feel free to contact him with a better trip to share too.

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Filed under Essays, Geography

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