Taos, N.M.: Snow and Sights

The museum is a fine introduction to Taos' complex history. At the Hacienda Martinez (505-758-1000), we saw the rugged conditions in which a Spanish family lived in the 1800s. A few miles out of town in Ranchos de Taos, we found the San Francisco de Asis church; its red adobe buttresses stood in dramatic contrast to the sky.

The Kit Carson Home and Museum (505-758-0505) introduced us to the mountain man period of Southwest history — and the painful issue of how white settlers treated Native Americans. The trapper and scout Kit Carson was my hero when I was growing up, but he also rounded up the Navajos and herded them against their will from their ancestral lands into the Bosque Redondo, a barren outpost in eastern New Mexico. "Why do people do things like that?" Charlotte asked.

On the last day of our trip, we walked across a bridge that spans the Rio Grande and looked deep into a 650-foot gorge. The universe, according to Native American legend, is layered. Humans inhabit only the place where earth and sky join.

"I don't want to go home," Charlotte said. None of us did. Like the bands of rock in the gorge, Taos revealed itself in layers. In a week, we'd only begun to see its wonders.

Best of Taos

Best Places to Stay: The Fechin Inn (800-811-2938), two blocks from Taos Plaza, is not only pretty, but also has a filling breakfast buffet. The Quail Ridge Inn (800-624-4448) is 14 miles from Taos Ski Valley.

Best Family Restaurants: At Doc Martin's Restaurant in the Historic Taos Inn (505-758-1977) children can try small portions of contemporary Southwest dishes or order plain spaghetti. Casa Fresen Bakery (505-776-2969) has delicious pastries and sandwiches. La Luna Ristorante (505-751- 0023) has great pizza.

Best Ski Store: Taos Ski Valley Sportswear Ski & Boot Company (505-776-2291) stocks everything you need and, worse, everything you want.

Best Sledding: Join local families at the U.S. Hill in Carson National Forest. From Taos, drive 12 miles south on Route 518. Call 505-758-6200.

Best Sleigh Ride: Taos Indian Horse Ranch gives 30-minute rides in horse-drawn troikas (giant sleighs). Prices include munchies, hot drinks and storytelling. Call 800-659-3210.

Best Cross-Country Skiing: The Enchanted Forest Cross-Country Ski Area. Call 505-754-2374.

Best Snowmobiling: Native Sons Adventures! offers guided snowmobile adventures for families. Drivers must be age 16 and up. Call 800-753-7559.

Please note that phone numbers, addresses, and prices are subject to change.

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