A New Generation of Earthship Owners Looks for Climate Solutions in the Past

Archetypes of 1970s utopian living, these self-determining homes in the desert have been embraced by a younger cohort eager to create a more sustainable future.

Highway 64 is a lonely, two-lane blacktop that runs east-west in northern New Mexico, spanning the Taos Plateau, part of the Rio Grande rift. The Sangre de Cristo Mountains rise in the east. The sky is vast. After the road crosses the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge heading west, the river, a slender green ribbon 650 feet below, bends north, and they come into view: curiosities half-hidden in hillsides, reminiscent of hobbit holes, Tatooine caves, or ancient cliff dwellings—earthships. These fanciful, rustic structures embody contradiction. They’re bona fide roadside attractions, cultural icons among the competitive real estate of Taos, a preeminent tourist town, yet they are also countercultural and highly individualistic, radical spaces that reimagine almost every part of contemporary life.

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