Taos Ski Valley — Photo courtesy of Steve LareseTaos Ski Valley has a reputation for being a real skier's mountain – deep powder on vertical slopes where the blue runs would be considered black diamonds at other areas. Outside Magazine wrote of TSV, “Taos is a four-letter word for steep.” More than half the runs are expert level, and Taos always had a “ski snob” appeal, only allowing snowboarding in 2008, and with much debate.
But beyond it's intense reputation, Taos is a very family-friendly mountain that is more than happy to help beginners. Its Ernie Blake Ski School and Snowsports Camp are ranked among the best in the nation. There are kids lessons and daycare for little ones while parents hit the slopes.
Taos was founded in 1955 by Ernie Blake, who served during WWII in the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division. Taos reminded Blake of the Alps of his native Austria, and he and his wife, Rhoda, lived in a trailer while they built their ski area (Ernie managed Ski Santa Fe at the time). The Blake family still owns and operates the ski area, making it one of the few family-owned ski resorts left in the nation.
Looking at a trail map, half of the routes are black and double-black diamonds, interlaced with the easier greens and blues. Blacks such as Psycho Path, Inferno and Walkyries Glade challenge confident skiers. Double-blacks such as Twin Trees Chute and Wonder Bowl involve hucking off of rock faces and should be left to experts or the insane.
Taos’ crown jewel, Main Street, is a double-black that starts at the top of 12,481-foot Kachina Peak, and is reached after a hike. It was this perfect bowl that inspired Ernie Blake to build his resort here. Moderate skiers and snowboarders have plenty of runs to chose from also. Porcupine is a mellow blue, and Honeysuckle, from Lift 6, is a nice long green. Snowboarders enjoy the new Out-to-Launch Terrain Park accessed below Lift 7. Whatever your skill level and where ever you ski, the views of the Sangre de Cristo mountains surrounding you are inspiring.
Taos Ski Valley is almost 20 miles from the town of Taos, and true to its purest skiing roots, the après ski isn’t as vibrant as some other resorts. Still, there are several excellent restaurants, including the Bavarian Lodge and Restaurant at the base of stunning Kachina Peak. The Martini Tree Bar is great for live music and a drink, and the Edelweiss Spa will help you with ski-sore muscles.