Eco-Road Trip – Earthship Community

Earthship Community & Taos Mesa Brewery – Summary:

  • Who: N/A
  • What: Stopped at the Taos Mesa Brewery for directions; Visited the Rio Grande Gorge National Park; Toured and explored the Earthship Community
  • When: Monday, April 9
  • Where: Taos; NM

Quick Resources:

My Route:

Planning my Eco-Inspired Road Trip Blog Post


My Travel Story:

After driving through the forested high mountains of New Mexico coming from the Hummingbird Community, I traveled through the desert prairie plains to The Greater World Earthship Community.

“The Greater World Community is the world’s first Earthship subdivision. Located 15 minutes from historic Taos, New Mexico, the Greater World Community is 634 acres of rolling mesa with great views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the town of Taos. Two and a half miles of the community front New Mexico State Highway 64 W. Lots of varying sizes are available in all phases of this development.

The Earthship homes are the common element in the Greater World community. They continue to evolve each time one is built. No power, water, gas, or sewage lines enter or leave the property. Earthships produce their own power with photovoltaics and wind generators. They catch their own water, use it, and then treat and reuse it several times. The only outside utility most homes have is a propane tank (used primarily for cooking but also for heating water).” — Earthship Community FIC Profile

I came up to what I thought was the Earthship Community, but it turned out to be the Taos Mesa Brewery instead.

“Taos Mesa Brewing “dubbed the “Mother Ship” by its owners” is housed in an old, converted airplane hangar, four miles east of the bridge on 64., and has been one of the hippest hangouts in Taos since opening in 2012. The fabulous brews aside, Taos Mesa Brewing has also become the place to see some of the best musical talent in a relatively intimate venue.” – Taos Webpage

I entered the music venue, restaurant brewery to ask for directions to the Earthship Community and see what the building was like. The inside of the main building was reminiscent of its days as a former airplane hangar, only with artistic canvases hanging from the ceiling, ping-pong tables for tournaments, and a large blacked-out music stage at the far end.

The bartender said I was pretty close – since I didn’t have cell reception/GPS to figure out where I was. She also told me that the earthship builders frequently come to the brewery, and even contributed to some of the outdoor builds like the stage and covered pavilion!

Continuing my drive to the earthships, I crossed a bridge over the Rio Grande Gorge State Park. I pulled over to the rest stop, where there were dozens of vendors selling food, jewelry, stones, hand-made knives, and many other trinkets – which I perused on my way to see the Rio Grande Gorge!

I thought this was a scenic view of the snow-capped New Mexican mountains which rolled into prairie plains to the Rio Grande Gorge, with a the largest blossoming tree at the state park stop!

These are the vendors selling their products, produce and trinkets – it was definitely a tourist’s souvenir smorgasbord!

Here’s a view of the bridge, with a pedestrian footpath and overlook, that I drove across to get to the earthships.

A picture of what remains of the Rio Grande river, a force so strong that it shaped these massive cliff-side ridges of the gorge!

I left the Rio Grande Gorge and arrived at the Earthship Community a few miles down the road! It was pretty mindblowing to see a community like this get started in the middle of nowhere – and has spread around the world to various environments.

I pulled into the public parking lot while seeing ongoing construction all around me, as I made my way to the visitor’s center and exhibition house.

This was the backside of the parking lot, where there was ongoing construction on some of the more advanced earthship sustainable technologies and building designs.

Many of the earthships were off-limits to the public, reasonably because they are private residences, but were opened up on certain days for paid, private tours.

This is the visitor’s center and main public exhibition center, complete with a bottle wall – similar to what I saw at the City of the Sun in lower New Mexico!

A view of the beautiful, plastered entrance to the visitor center with an outline of colored glass bottles!

This is the layout schematics of the building if it was used as a 2-bedroom home, instead of a modified educational visitor’s center.

In addition to the schematic layout, another handout for the self-guided tour included a FAQ sheet.

As well as another handout indicating the technologies within the earthship to follow along on the self-guided tour.

As you walk into the visitor’s center in the main foyer room, against the wall is a children’s comic series highlighting how we live life and the roll of earthships in the process of being sustainable.

Further into the main entrance of the visitor’s center had more posters and pictures of international projects!

In the main lobby/gift shop of the visitor’s center were several building designs, technology banners, systems displays and earthship merchandise. I thought this earthship mushroom design was really unique, especially since I researched various designs to better familiarize myself before visiting.

The self-guided tour started in the front glass wall greenhouse, which was the main source of food production in the design and helped regulate temperature and oxygen flows. The first station showed suspended planter buckets, next to a young fig tree and the wast water management grow beds.

The design of the earthship considers seasonal weather and temperatures, so the windows and skylights can be opened to help with building circulation and regulate oxygen for the plants!

Further down the greenhouse hallway was a sign that explains how the food production system is tied to the gray water filtration system, contributing to a watering and nutrient cycle to reuse household water more efficiently!

Here’s a picture of the greenhouse hallway! The growth is intentionally maintained to visitors can walk through the hallway “without having to use a machete” and so light can enter through the windows and help regulate temperatures.

Even the bathroom was educational!

At the end of the hallway, some of the other visitors talked to an onsite employee who was spray misting some of the plants, and explaining about the indoor aeroponic and hydroponic systems.

This is an herb drying rack in the greenhouse, completely dried naturally by the sun!

After the main greenhouse hallway, I went into the educational theater that played a video on a loop about the history and technology of earthships. On the wall were educational signs talking about the wall features with an adobe plaster and rammed earth tires – both of which contribute to temperature regulation!

This is a picture rendering of a multi-level earthship master community, which reminded me much like Paolo Soleri’s concept of Arcology I came across at Arcosanti.

This is a picture of the Water Organization Module (W.O.M.), the entire system that can be built with very little skills – especially in third world countries – to filter water from catchment systems and store for future use!

Just like the water filtration systems, the Power Organizing Module is also a lean design, but is usually built by the earthship construction team and shipped to the build site.

Here’s a poster showing the water management system from gray water to black water – with it being used in the middle for food production before returning to the bathroom!

The following banners were hanging in the visitor’s center lobby that visually highlight different systems within an earthship – from food production to natural energy to water harvesting and treatment!

This video shows the technology systems in action for a better context of how an earthship operates.

After the tour, I walked around the limited public access trails to get better views of the community and current projects. Some of which were being built by the Earthship Academy apprentices and seasonal interns!

This is a view of the rainwater catchment system on the roof of the visitor’s center building.

Here’s a view of a large residential earthship complex, a picture I took while standing on top of the visitor’s center!

I also took this picture of another complex off in the distance while also on top of the visitor’s center.

I made my way through the parking lot to the public access trail that led to the from on the most recent construction project. I was really looking forward to seeing this large scale design, that could be replicated across the world.

This is the entrance to the underground classrooms for the Earthship Academy, with a view of the artistic wind-turbine that generates a portion of the electricity.

Here’s a video overview of the academy – which looks really appealing, but if I were to do this, I’d start as an intern.

I thought this sign was funny – a warning for “sustainable testing!”

This is a view of the recently build earthships next to the sustainable experimental building.

This intricate building was build primarily by seasons of interns and apprentices, and is the primarily site for sustainable experimentation.

You may also like