Taos Ski Valley
Taos is arguably the premiere ski resort in New Mexico; the place to go see and to be seen. With a massive 1294 acres of skiable terrain and a vertical that rivals resorts in Colorado and Utah, Taos has long been a staple of New Mexico skiing. Base elevation is 9206 feet, and the summit of Kachina Peak rests at a lofty 12,481 feet, giving Taos a sick vert of 9206 feet. Snowfall at Taos is as impressive as the rest of the resort. The annual average is 300 inches (7.6 meters), and because of Taos’ geographic location and altitude, the snow that comes down is light champagne powder, perfect for skiing. In the rare case that there isn’t sufficient snow, there is snowmaking coverage over 647 acres and 13 miles of trails, including all of the green and blue runs.
The Lifts and Trails
Ask any skier who is in the know what they think of Taos, the answer is inevitably going to be steeps. Taos has 110 named trails that are heavily slanted toward the expert rider with a full 51 percent rated black diamond or higher. The rest are 24 percent beginner and 25 percent intermediate. Keep in mind that ratings are relative and the green and blue trails at Taos would probably be rated a notch higher at most other resorts.
There are 15 total lifts at Taos. With four quads, three triples, five doubles, and three surface, the lift system is capable of ferrying over 15,000 skiers up the mountain per hour. Moving around the mountain is intuitive for beginning and intermediate trails. If you’re after some of the prime steeps on the West Basin, you should be ready to hike, however. Taos has no lift coverage of either the Basin or the chutes and drop ins to the west of Kachina Peak.
There is plenty of terrain for skiers of every skill level, but skiers that are brand new to the sport would be best served by taking some lessons. While Strawberry Hill is a nice and gentle bunny slope, the transition from there to even one of the longer groomed cruisers can be a big leap. Thankfully, Taos has one of the United States’ highest rated ski schools.
When snow permits, expert and advanced skiers can tromp all over the mountain. Keep in mind that Taos does not groom any black runs, so prepare for some bumps. A lot of bumps actually. Taos has some great glades as well if that’s more up your alley. However, for a truly groovy time, get your hiking boots ready and head up to Highline or the West Basin Ridge. Take Lift 2 up to Ski Patrol HQ and choose your flavor. If you want some awesome bowl skiing, from the drop-off at 2, cruise down to Lift 4 and head up to Kachina Peak.
The Rest of the Story
Taos is a great resort and intermediate to expert skiers could happily spend a few months tearing up the mountain. Beginners might feel a little shortchanged at first, but once they get their ski legs, they’ll find plenty of challenges and fun all around the mountain. Apres-ski events at Taos are great, with live music, rowdy (or quiet) drinking establishments and restaurants galore. One tip: if you like authentically spicy Tex-Mex, you have to hit the Stray Dog. Eight types of margarita and the spiciest chili you’ll find outside of Texas will keep you coming back for more. Taos Town has everything you’d expect a resort town to have, draped in the garb of the Pueblo Indians and Hispanic culture. This ski resort is amazing, and you’re sure to have a great time.