If a trip to Taos, New Mexico, is on your bucket list, be sure to visit Kit Carson Park.
This space offers numerous ways to enjoy spending time outdoors with your family. You’ll have your pick of activities, from afternoon picnics to evening entertainment.
Join us as we dive into the history of this popular landmark and what makes Taos an intriguing place to visit.
Who Was Kit Carson?
Born in Madison County, Kentucky, on December 24, 1809, Christopher “Kit” Carson was the sixth of ten children. His father was a farmer but died when Kit was about ten years old.
Feeling like he needed to help his family financially, he began work as a saddlemaker at 14. He chose employment over education and never learned to read. However, he didn’t let that fact become an obstacle in life.
In 1826, Carson joined a caravan of laborers heading to Santa Fe. He became a successful wildlife trapper along the way. A few years later, Kit continued his travels to Arizona and California. During this time, he also learned Spanish, French, and some Native American languages.
At age 33, he met explorer John C. Fremont who hired him to guide Fremont’s first expedition. The two men traveled together through Utah, the Pacific Northwest, and California.
Two years into their journey, they found themselves involved in the Mexican-American War supporting US forces in the West. In 1846, when settlers proclaimed California an independent republic, the scout began heading to Washington, D.C., to announce the victory. However, he only made it as far as New Mexico.
Friend and Foe of the Native Americans
Kit Carson joined the Office of Indian Affairs for the northern New Mexico Territory in 1853. He worked with the Ute and Jicarilla Apache Nations to secure land for their people and also helped create reservations for other tribes.
While he initially seemed to be a friend of Native Americans, he later led revolts against tribes in the region. Sadly, his actions forced the relocation of the Diné (Navajo) people, which resulted in hundreds of deaths.
Carson relocated to Colorado, where he resigned from his job in 1857 due to declining health. The following year, he passed away a month after his third wife died during childbirth.
Discover more about Taos area history: The Great Taos Bank Robbery and Other True Stories.
About Kit Carson Park
While the explorer’s original burial site was in Boggsville, Colorado, his final resting place, along with his wife, Josefa, is in Taos. It’s here that you can visit the 19-acre Kit Carson Park.
The state of New Mexico owned the park until 1988, when the city purchased it. But it would be another 12 years before it became the active site it currently is.
A number of annual events, including a solar festival, moved here from other venues beginning in 2000. Then, in 2014, the city invited the band Mumford & Sons to perform at the park. Approximately 9,000 people attended the concert. Since then, Kit Carson Park regularly hosts big-name touring groups on its stage.
You’ll also find a walking track, picnic tables, a playground, and barbecue areas you can use while visiting the park. Or, if sports are your thing, you can access tennis and basketball courts.
Where Is Kit Carson Park?
Taos is in northern New Mexico, about two and a half hours from Albuquerque. Kit Carson Park sits in the east part of town and is close to many art galleries, museums, restaurants, and retail shops. You can also visit the grave of the famous scout at the nearby cemetery named after him.
With an elevation of about 7,000 feet above sea level, you’ll enjoy mild weather when visiting in the summer months. However, the four-season climate is pleasant at any time of the year. If you’re into snow sports, you might want to plan a winter trip to the world-class Taos Ski Valley resort.
Take a spell to look around and enjoy the beauty of the Rocky Mountains and Rio Grande River. It’s a very walkable town with many things to see and do while you’re there.
Other Fun Things To Do Near Kit Carson Park
Even though Taos isn’t very big, you’ll still find plenty to see and do around town. Here are a few great places to check out.
Visit Taos Pueblo
Designated as a World Heritage Site and a National Historic Landmark, Taos Pueblo is a beautiful cultural spot. It’s also been home to many Native Americans for over 1,000 years.
The multistory adobe buildings provide an insight for visitors to this area’s history. These ancient dwellings consist of individual homes built side by side with connecting walls.
While it’s open to the public, certain areas remain off-limits to allow privacy for the residents. Additionally, they ask you to respect the rules posted regarding closed sections and no photography in sacred spaces.
Explore Taos Plaza and Downtown
The heart and soul of Taos is its historic Plaza. Built by Spanish colonists over 400 years ago, it remains in its original shape. However, its use has changed over time. Defense was the main purpose in the early days.
But today, you’ll see gardens, shops, and art galleries filling the space. You’ll get a glimpse into the area’s history as you stroll through downtown.
Check Out the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge
This two-lane bridge spans the 1,300-foot-wide Rio Grande Gorge. The designers who built it in 1965 included a pedestrian walkway on both sides. So you can drive across and then park on the other end to view the area’s beauty on foot.
You’ll take Hwy 64, roughly 12 miles out of Taos, to get to the bridge. In addition to visiting Kit Carson Park, this is another short trip you can make while staying in the area.
Stay a while and discover the 9 Best Things To Do in Taos, New Mexico.
Best Places to Stay Near Kit Carson Park
Since Kit Carson Park is in town, you’ll have a few lodging options nearby. Check out these suggestions to start planning your visit.
Taos Valley RV Park and Campground
Located about three miles away from Kit Carson Park, this spot is suitable for RV and tent campers. You’ll enjoy the proximity to stores, galleries, and restaurants.
You can choose from a number of different sites, including full or partial hookups and dry camping spots. They offer reasonable nightly rates as well as a weekly special of getting one night free if staying for seven.
La Dona Luz Inn
This adobe bed and breakfast is a block down from the Taos Plaza. You’ll be close to everything you want to see, including Kit Carson Park, which is less than a ten-minute walk away.
Some parts of the inn date back to 1802. Each room offers unique Native American art and Spanish colonial antiques. In addition, you can enjoy a whirlpool hot tub after walking around town all day.
Hotel La Fonda de Taos
The Hotel La Fonda de Taos became part of the Plaza’s history in 1820. Back then, it was the St. Vrain Mercantile Store, selling goods to travelers, but it was also a saloon and hotel.
You’ll have a variety of restaurants, galleries, and museums steps away when you stay at this hotel. If you like being in the center of everything, this is your place! Each room offers deluxe amenities, including luxury linens and in-room internet access.
Is a Kit Carson Park Road Trip Worth It?
We think you’ll enjoy everything this New Mexican town offers, including Kit Carson Park. You can take the family there for a picnic as you plan activities for the rest of your stay.
From the ancient Taos Pueblo to the Plaza, this area is full of unique historical sites. You could easily spend a week here and not run out of things to do!
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