Rad Resort: Taos Ski Valley — Captivating Terrain, Southwest Style
It’s no wonder why skiers tried to keep New Mexico’s Taos Ski Valley all to themselves for so long; the mountain is a real gem. Legally open to snowboarding in 2008, Taos Ski Valley is located about four hours southeast of Durango, Colorado and two hours north of Santa Fe, at 9,207 feet in the Sangre de Cristo mountains.
While the village is easily accessible from the town of Taos and provides full amenities for visitors, the terrain is what keeps them coming back. Taos’ rugged steeps, cliffs, chutes, and cornices provide a backcounty-like experience, from the convenience of a chairlift. It’s difficult not to get mesmerized by what surrounds you. Hiking the ridge from Lift 2 and hitting West Basin and Highline Ridge takes a minor 15 minutes, while Taos’ infamous Kachina Peak (12,481 feet) is about 45.
With the resort being bought this season, improvements and changes are on the horizon, including a lift to the Kachina Peak zone and upgrades to the village and lodge. The spirit of Taos is something the new owner promises to keep— the wild west vibe, mixed with Bavarian style, that makes it so unique.
For Marketing Manager Adriana Blake, Taos Ski Valley is home. Her grandfather, Ernie, founded the resort in the 40s, allowing Adriana to grow up and work at TSV most of her life. She explains how the extended-family of workers at the resort contributes to making Taos worth a visit. “The fact that our people take such pride in sharing this place is what makes Taos feel different.” She goes on to explain the aura, “It’s not just a ski town, but an artist’s haven, a hippy commune, a Native American pueblo and a hispanic community; that makes it totally different from anywhere else.”
Adriana lends some insight on the best zones to shred on the mountain, and where to eat and be merry when visiting this Rad Resort. With 305 inches of annual snowfall and 300 plus days of sunshine, Taos Ski Valley helps the “Land of Enchantment” live up to its name.
Best place to scare yourself: The Tequila Chutes off the West Basin Ridge. We had a journalist ride them once and I got an email that said: “Holy Tequila Chutes, Batman! Only in Taos would that be an open run.”
Best secret stash: I like Oster and Fabian at the very beginning of the West Basin Ridge. Everyone hikes beyond them and so they have fresh turns hours (sometimes days) after other stuff gets skied out.
Best side-country hike: Kachina Peak. Classic.
Best people to ride with: Christina Bruno, snowboard instructor and ripper; Justin Bobb, Taos’ first snowboarding ski patroller and all around awesome guy; and Dave Hahn, who holds the world record for summiting Everest and is totally hilarious.
Best month to shred: Between President’s Day and the 10th(ish) of March.
Best pow run: Any of the tree runs into the chutes off of West Basin Ridge.
Best urban myth/resort legend: That the reason TSV didn’t allow snowboarding until 2008 was that it was Ernie Blake’s deathbed wish.
Best live music: Taos Mesa Brewing. There is music every night and it’s a really cool spot. It’s about 25 minutes from TSV.
Best bar: Martini Tree for Apres Ski
Best nightlife: The Alley Cantina in Taos. There is live music every night. It’s a total Taos cultural experience.
Best hotel: Edelweiss Lodge and Spa – big condos and hotel rooms right at the base of the resort. They have a really good restaurant/bar, too.
Best hotel on a budget: The Abominable Snow Mansion in Arroyo Seco.
Best breakfast: Tenderfoot Katie’s Cafeteria‘s made-to-order breakfast burrito. Their chile is awesome.
Best grocery store: Cid’s Natural Food store in Taos. For a quick healthy stop, try Sol Food in Arroyo Seco (10 miles from the Valley).
Best pizza: Pizza Shack – I like the Liftie.
Best burger: Hands down the St. Bernard Deck.
Best veggie: Gutiz (Taos)
Best snowboard shop: Cottams
Where: Located in Northern New Mexico, Taos Ski Valley is accessed from NM-150. Visitors can fly into Santa Fe (90 miles), or Albuquerque (154 miles), rent a car or take a shuttle.
Base Elevation: 9,207 feet
Top of Highest Lift Served: 11,819 feet
Snowfall: 305 inches annually
Regular 1 Day: $77
Regular 2+ days: $74
Season Pass: $999