Summer in New Mexico: Top 5 Taos Outdoor Adventures

Summer in New Mexico:

Top 5 Taos Outdoor Adventures

No matter what you plan to do in Taos this summer – whether it be hiking to William’s Lake, taking the chairlift to the top of Taos Ski Valley, rafting the Taos box, or roaming around the Taos fine arts and crafts galleries – prepare for epic mountain scenery and shortness of breath in this gorgeous town that sits at 7,000 feet above sea level. Here are the top 5 Taos outdoor adventures to hit up during your summer trip to New Mexico’s mountains.


New Mexico has become synonymous with hot air ballooning thanks to the International Balloon Fiesta, which occurs every fall in Albuquerque. But Albuquerque isn’t the only place where you can catch a ride. Taos has several outfitters ready to take couples, families, and adventurers high up over the Sangre de Cristos and through the Rio Grande Gorge – home to the 7th highest bridge in the US. Most rides start at around $200 per person. Check out Pueblo Balloon Company for your next ride.

Balloon Tour of the Rio Grande Gorge, New Mexico
Photo: U.S. Department of the Interior


A short drive from Taos town will bring you to Taos Ski Valley, with over 140 trails and breathtaking views. In the summer, most ski village businesses stay open. The mountain streams circle throughout the cabins, shops, and trails and a couple times each month a food, beer, or wine festival pop up at the base of chairlift 1. A little known secret is that hikers of all skill levels can take chairlift four to the top and explore what’s usually covered in snow all winter, while enjoying awesome views of nearby Wheeler Peak. The trails at the top are lush and you might even encounter some wildlife. Here s a full list of trails at the ski area. The easy 2 mile stroll to Williams Lake offers tranquil and diverse surroundings along the Rio Hondo.

Williams Lake

Photo: Kevin Muncie


Wherever you are in Northern New Mexico – Taos, Angel Fire, Chama, or Santa Fe – you’ll see cyclists weaving through the scenic roads and trails. In Taos, the West Rim Trail provides a low difficulty 8-mile course along the Rio Grande Canyon. For a greater adrenaline rush, venture 20-minutes north of the Ski Valley and explore over 1,200 acres of dirt trails that max out at over 12,000 feet. Keep an eye out for Wheeler Peak, the highest point in the state.

South Boundary Trail

Photo: Jeremy Ridge


Taos is part of the Carson National Forest, an area containing multiple streams and lakes branching out from the Rio Grande and Rio Hondo and renowned for its trout fishing. Fishing companies like Taos Fly Shop and Blue Yonder Fly Fishing offer full- and half-day tours for families, individuals, and large groups of all skill-levels.


Photo: Amanda Vernor


Locals and tourists alike never go without rafting the Taos Box in the summer – and it’s not just for the wild white-water ride. Bighorn sheep, elk, otters, and even some mountain lions frequent this 17-mile stretch of the Rio Grande River. Guided tours with New Mexico River Adventures provide you with everything you need. Over 60 rapids line the course, 13 of which are classified as Class 3 and 4, making the Taos Box the ultimate summer thrill. No past river-rafting experience needed here, but this trip definitely isn’t suited for small kids.

Río Grande del Norte National Monument

Photo: Bureau of Land Management

(And Eating)

Round out any day by getting some tasty grub. Try the raw beet, avocado, and southwest ruby grapefruit salad followed by the rainbow trout baked in a cornhusk at the renowned Love Apple. For local breakfast and lunch in a classic Taos Pueblo-style atmosphere, head to Michael’s Kitchen. And to quench that thirst and maybe even catch some live music, head to Taos Mesa Brewing and sample some local brew made just out the back door.

Taos Mesa Brewing Company
Taos Mesa Brewing (Photo: adaenn)



Written by Nick Pachelli

Nick Pachelli is a New Mexico native, photographer, and author. As an experienced hiker, skier, and runner he shares the best of his curious-impulsive-unrestrained experiences from around the Western US.

3 comments on “Summer in New Mexico: Top 5 Taos Outdoor Adventures

  1. I recently took a quiz that told me my “top 20 places” to live in the US. A couple of spots were surprisingly in New Mexico! I have to say, you’ve painted a pretty tantalizing picture of Taos. Tell me there’s a children’s hospital in the area and it’ll officially be on “the list.” 😉

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