Still home to one of the longest-established Native American populations in the US, though transformed by becoming first a Spanish colonial outpost, and more recently a hangout for bohemian artists and New Age dropouts, Taos (which rhymes with "mouse") has become famous out of all proportion to its size. Just seven thousand people live in its three component parts: Taos itself, around the plaza; sprawling Ranchos de Taos, three miles to the south; and the Native American community of Taos Pueblo, two miles north.
Beyond the usual unsightly highway sprawl, Taos is a delight to visit. Besides museums, galleries, and stores, it still offers an unhurried pace and charm, and the sense of a meeting place between Pueblo, Hispanic, and American cultures. Its reputation as an artists' colony began at the end of the nineteenth century. Not long afterward, society heiress Mabel Dodge arrived and married an Indian from the Pueblo to become Mabel Dodge Luhan. She in turn wrote a fan letter to English novelist D.H. Lawrence, who visited three times in the 1920s; his widow Frieda later made her home in Taos. New generations of artists and writers have "discovered" Taos ever since, the most famous of all being Georgia O'Keeffe, who stayed for a few years at the end of the 1920s.