Taos Ski Valley located in Taos County, New Mexico, is a well known ski resort for advanced and expert skiers . Taos Ski Valley was one of four ski resorts in America to prohibit snowboarding. The slopes usually open on Thanksgiving weekend and close in early April, although early season snow can be sparse and spring conditions not exceptional.
The highest point is Kachina Peak at 12,481 feet (3,804 m), abutting the Wheeler Wilderness Area, and the highest lift served is No.2 at 11,819 feet (3,602 m) below the West Basin Ridge, giving a vertical drop of 2,618 feet (798 m). Skiers must be very careful being dangerous to ski outside the safe areas due to avalanche hazard.
Taos Ski Valley was founded in 1955 by Ernie and Rhoda Blake and it is still managed by the Blake family. Taos Ski Valley has the highest rated ski school in North America. The first ski lift, a J-Bar, was installed in 1956. Through 1957, the ski resort featured only one ski trail. In 1957, the resort installed a second lift . Today there are 12 lifts in total , 4 fixed grip quads, 1 triple, 5 doubles, and 2 surface lifts.
Although Taos was built as a ski resort for advanced and expert skiers, the current management is very insistent that it is an equally good place for first-time skiers. Lessons are strongly encouraged, because Taos tends to be a more difficult mountain than other ski areas. “You don’t have to be an expert to ski Taos, but there is no better place to become one,” is one of the resort’s slogans . The Ski School at Taos has been rated Number One several times by various ski magazines .
But Taos has a reputation as the resort for expert , fast skiers. Fifty-one percent of the trails are just for them . There are over 20 trails to sample off the Ridge, either from Highline or West Basin, and plenty of off-piste scope. Probably the best skiing for experts is West Basin Ridge. The route through Lorelei Trees onto Lorelei is another long challenging trail and again you can finish off on Al’s Run with its mogul fields heading straight down the mountain under the ski lift back to base.
The climate, culture, and geography resemble a Swiss village. There is a fair selection of hotels, lodges, condos and B&Bs in the resort and a far greater choice for all budgets in Taos Town, from cozy adobes to cottages in the mountains. In the resort, the St. Bernard Hotel is famous for having been there forever, also because owner, Jean Mayer, is an amazing character who welcomes every guest into his lodge and serves every family-style gourmet meal himself. There are also condos as part of this complex. Also in the Village there are vacation homes to rent.
Nearby Taos town has plenty of accommodations and attractions. Taos is a former Spanish settlement featuring picturesque adobe architecture typical of the local Native American culture. Today, Taos is well known as a haven for artists and it boasts many varied galleries.
There are some half dozen bars including well known Martini Tree Bar which is one of the hot spots for après-ski action with live music, pool tables, a sushi selection, and wall hangings displaying Taos’s history.