Around Taos, NM: where Indian, Latino and Anglo culture meet the mountains

All photos are copyright by Evan Ravitz and for sale. Nonprofit use of these small images is free if credit is given. Email: evan (at)

My first trip out west ended up in Taos in April of 1970. It was still the wild west. Hippie nudist California refugees were freaking out proper Catholic Latinos, whose crazy nephews were shooting at hippie buses. When some hippies shot back, I left town, being 18 and a vulnerable hitch-hiker out on those lonely roads.

The guy who convinced me to "go check out communes in Taos."

"Finally Fat City" in Lower Arroyo Hondo.

I finally moved to Taos Ski Valley in 1974-5, where I worked fitting ski boots. Still life with kitty.

I convinced Ernie Blake, who owned the ski area, to give me a ski pass to do photography there. Unfortunately I decided to try the movie film then marketed as still film, and it all came out too dark like this one and the next two. Sorry, Ernie. Rest in Peace.

This one did become a postcard for years there.

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Early morning frost. In 1976 I helped finish this Kimmey family house in Arroyo Hondo, which was round with a spiral garden in the center and a removeable roof section above it.

I lived in my tipi there.

By Stagecoach or Manby hot springs on the Rio Grande 3 miles from Hondo.

Better and closer are Black Rock hot springs near the John Dunn bridge.

There were more cows than people in Hondo. The Rio Hondo.

More sheep, too.

Angel painted the portrait of Sage at Dave Cordova's place.

There was an evening storm and then the sun came out with this ghostly rainbow.

Laundry became ghosts.

On a quest for tipi poles past Questa towards Midnight, we saw this giant cottonwood with 2 large ponderosa pines growing through its crown!

In 1977 I moved from Arroyo Hondo up the Rio Hondo to Arroyo Seco, at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo ("Blood of Christ") Mountains, named for the extra-low-setting sun which colors the mountains blood red. My tipi was on the Valdez family land behind this, Kathleen Summit's house which had been the Valdez home previously. Kathleen was the first Anglo to come to the Seco elementary School, as a story-teller. She talked regularly with her woodstove Big Oak as she fed him. I stayed with and took care of her once when she hurt her leg.

Above us was the Cuchillo del Medio ("The Middle Knife") with the last sun rays hitting it here.

The view from the Cuchillo.

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This was my water supply when the ditch wasn't running. The Cuchillo is behind. El Diente ("The Tooth") is to the right.

Hiking above the El Salto waterfalls below the Tooth.

My friend Ron, a half-Taos, half-Zuni jeweler.

My neighbor Sherman Cedars. Sherman, our friend Modesto "Modi" Mondragon from Taos Pueblo, and I tried to climb Taos Mountain, but the Taos War Chief stopped us.

Instead, Modi and I backpacked up Vallecito Peak. Taos Mountain in background.

The 1977 fire at the Arroyo Seco Bar. I happened by on my bike and ended up holding one of the hoses, keeping a propane tank from exploding.

On the right is Blanca Peak, the northern outpost of the SW tribes' traditional territory.

Same peaks from a little further away just South of the town of San Luis, Colorado, the Oldest, and often the Coldest Town in Colorado.

One of the 7 cats who lived in my tipi, Squeaky. All but one disappeared in the month leading up to my departure from Taos. Walking along the ditch one day, I found Squeaky with new kittens living wild in a little bower. She welcomed me in to pet them.

Bo, another tipi-dweller.

On top of Old Mike Peak. Below is Blue Lake, off-limits to all but Taos Indians.

I came here by mistake. It's a long story, but I ended up lost and sick and unable to eat for several days while bushwacking up what I thought was a parallel drainage. But, I ended up right at Blue Lake. I stayed a day to gain strength, and watched the sunrise from above:

Sun rise over Eagle Reservoir from Old Mike Peak.

There were winds of some 80 MPH, and this halo around the sun.

I finally skiied over the top of Wheeler Peak (highest in NM at 13,151') and down to Taos Ski Valley. Exhausted, I fell and broke my wrist near the bottom of the mountain. A little bump still reminds me.

Columbine in the wilderness behind Seco.

"Red" Rodger

One of the radial dikes leading to the West Spanish Peak volcano behind -supposedly the best example of this landform in the world. If you sleep on the volcanoes your dreams are supposed to be prophetic.

The hermitage above the Lama Foundation north of Seco.

At the llama ranch near the Lama Foundation. Know your Spanish LLs!

Taos Mountain hovers over the valley. El Diente at left.

Rainbows were common at the foot of the Sangres after summer showers.

The Rio Pueblo below Taos Pueblo.

Wild rose.

The view NE from San Antonio Peak. At 11,000 feet it commands the San Luis Valley whose floor is some 8000 feet, and sometimes a view from Mt. Evans near Denver to the Sandia Crest near Albuquerque.

San Antonio Peak

"Holy Hill" in Embudo, South of Taos.

On top of Holy Hill. I briefly was caretaker of Tom Watson's place, visible below and accessible only by cable-car across the Rio Grande, just below where the Rio Embudo merged.

My friend Scott building his solar house. As the sole Taos employee of the New Mexico Solar Energy Association, I helped him design the solar features.

I also documented all the solar buildings in Taos. This one by Mike Reynolds, now famous for Earth Ship tire houses.

This was one of the twin solar greenhouses on the Sherer house, which was the most successful of all 120 solar buildings I documented. The black units on the right are water-walls welded from steel sheets. They hold 4-5 times as much heat as the same volume of stone.

Taos Mountain

Deb; view back to Taos from a volcanic formation called Tres Orejas ("Three Ears") SW of town.

The rest are from a huge outcrop of petroglyphs between Taos and Sante Fe.

This last is in Guatemala, I think from the top of the Cerro de Oro on Lake Atitlan.

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