Where to Stay in Taos, New Mexico: Staying in an Earthship Home
I can honestly say that before I planned my week-long trip to New Mexico, I had never heard of an Earthship. Having done research on visiting the Very Large Array radio antenna, and searching for alien life in Roswell, New Mexico, I was loving all the science-related stops I could make on my drive across the state…so why not seek out more?? And so began my introduction to Earthships and the planning process to be able to spend the night in one of these unique homes.
It may disappoint some people but despite what the name implies, Earthships are not spaceships that have been built on Earth (how cool would that be?). The full, official term is actually Earthship Biotecture and it’s a revolutionary form of sustainable architecture. Earthships are houses, complete with a kitchen, living room, bedrooms and bathrooms, that are completely self-sustaining. These homes aren’t connected to the rest of civilization via power lines, gas lines or even water pipes. They make sure to follow certain sustainability tenets including being built with recycled materials, containing a food production source within the house, having a way to harvest water, treating sewage in a self-contained way, and utilizing solar power, wind power and thermo-heating. However even though they are sustainable, they are from from being unlivable or primitive. They completely run on their own without sacrificing any modern amenities like Smart TVs, modern stoves, running water and even washing machines and dryers.
We arrived at the Earthship community (the preeminent collection of Earthships in the world) outside of Taos, New Mexico a little nervous about what we had gotten ourselves into. We had absolutely NO CLUE what staying in one of these home would be like other than the reviews we had read when we had booked our rental through AirBNB. However, I took some comfort in learning that of the 70 Earthships in this community, most are inhabited year-round, while only a couple of them can be rented out. The large group of homes sits on a secluded stretch of the Taos Valley and are both spaced far enough apart and sit low enough to the ground that you’re guaranteed an unobstructed view of the beautiful skies and New Mexico landscape around you.
Every Earthship is super new-age looking. With twists and curves in their construction, many look like they’ve been plucked out of a Dr. Seuss novel. Our personal lodging had a beautiful outside wall made of colorful glass bottles that created an almost stained-glass window effect. Glass bottles are a very common decor element in earthship construction as well as the use of adobe mud and old car tires (an easily accessible recycled source of construction material).
Life inside an Earthship
Upon entering the front door and walking into the garage, you realize you’ve really walked into another world and a whole new way of life. We were greeted with a gorgeous koi pond and the start of the lush greenery thriving throughout the home. Soon came the moment of truth about how cold we would be while sleeping that night. We tackled our road trip through New Mexico in the middle of December, not-so-conveniently at the same time a massive snowstorm was forecasted to blow across the state with lots of snow and bitter cold the night we booked our Earthship. Not so great when there is no actual heating system set up in your lodging for the night. The garage was quite cold but as soon as we opened the second door into the main part of the Earthship, we knew we wouldn’t have to worry about staying warm. The moist warm air hit us and we had magically walked into an indoor greenhouse as if a jungle of plants has randomly rooted in the hallway. Our particular Earthship had an abundance of kale and baby tomatoes growing, helping to provide a natural food source indoors.
Down the long, plant-filled hall were multiple doors, each opening up into different rooms. The first was the living room and kitchen combo: a very standard looking living space. Then there was the guest bedroom and bathroom as well as the master bed and bath. Down a side hall was the laundry room which also housed the water filtration system. This filtration system is a key aspect of the house. Water is collected from rain and snow on the roof and is then filtered for use in drinking and washing. The water that goes down the drain is then transported to the plants in the hallway to help keep them thriving. The water feeding the plants is constantly being collected in a cistern then used in the toilets for flushing. The constant recirculation of water guarantees that water pipes are never needed.
The heat is naturally supplied as the sun beats down on the house and warms the mass of tires built within the foundation. It also helps that these homes are built into the ground on one side, providing additional insulation. If it gets too warm, a small door can be opened along the floorboard that connect to a tube that leads directly outside, providing natural cooling vents.
We loved staying in our Earthship, even if it was only for one night. Waking up to floor to ceiling windows in the hall that overlooked the Taos Valley and mountains in the distance was such a gorgeous sight. Having access to drive around and see other Earthships in the community was another privilege that not many people get to experience. It felt good to go off the grid for a short time, and learn how we can all take steps to reduce our carbon footprint. If you’re traveling to Santa Fe or are exploring day trips through northern New Mexico, definitely make sure you plan a stop to see these one of a kind homes!