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A rolling mesa at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Taos has a magical quality. Its rugged beauty, majestic mountains, wild Rio Grande river and unique blend of cultures -- Spanish, Native American and Anglo -- have historically drawn artists and photographers, as evidenced by the plentiful galleries, museums and festivals. To experience the Native American culture here, explore Taos Pueblo, where the Tiwa Native Americans have practised their traditions for centuries. Finally, the Anglo influence is prevalent in the business district, with its shops, art galleries and some of the finest restaurants in New Mexico. Skiing is also a major draw, though the challenging slopes are geared to the more advanced crowd. There's no rat race here; a fair share of non-mainstreamers have made this laid-back, low-key mecca their home. You, too, may be reluctant to leave its tranquillity and natural beauty.