The Taos, NM area is very cool and very much worth visiting. Kit Carson's home and grave are in Taos. Taos Pueblo is very interesting and is very close to Taos, to the north. There are other Pueblos nearby.
There is much Native American art to be bought in that area, especially pottery. Maria Martinez and family of San Ildefonso Pueblo is probably the most famous. Their black pots are beautiful. That
Pueblo and others are south of Taos.
The drive to Taos from the east up the Cimarron River Canyon is beautiful. There are many places to camp in the Canyon. We've always stayed in motels in Taos proper so we can't recommend any particular camp grounds there but I do remember passing many in the Canyon.
Then, going west, Canyon de Chelly (National Monument) is an awesome must see. There is a free campground on the Monument grounds. You can drive around the rim of the canyon and see most of the cliff dwellings from a distance at no charge. If you want to go into the canyon to see the ancient dwellings up close and personal (highly recommended), you must hire a Navajo guide. If you decide to go there, we can tell you which guide we used, loved her tour, and where to find her.
It sounds like you have a great adventure ahead of you. If you stop by to visit with us in Chicagoland, we can guide you to a local market that makes great Italian sausage. You can freeze a bunch and take it with you since really good sausage may be really hard to find between Chicago and California.