Acres: 1,294 | Vertical: 3,281’ | Snowfall: 305” | skitaos.com
The formula at Taos Ski Valley is simple: Pair steep powder skiing with an authentic Southwest vibe. The skiing got a massive boost last year with the addition of the Kachina Peak triple chair. From 12,481-foot Kachina Peak, skiers can now rip more than 400 acres of high-alpine terrain, featuring broad bowls, chutes, and steeps that rival any resort in the Rockies. Even the special Southwest mojo gets a push this year with the February opening of The Blake, an 80-room New Mexico-themed (think navajo rugs, crackling kiva fireplaces, and sizzling green chile) boutique hotel, named after Taos founder Ernie Blake. It’s the highlight of the renovated base area. “It’s steps from the lift, at the heart of the Ski Valley,” says Taos’s Vice President Chris Stagg. The slopes get spiffed up too, with boundary-to-boundary wireless coverage, increased snowmaking for improved early season turns, and added clearing on some of Taos’s most popular tree runs, including Ernie’s and North American.
Can’t-Miss Run: When the snow flies, bypass the main lot and park up at the Bavarian Inn. Jump on Chair 4 and the Kachina triple for access to Hunziker Chute. “Hunzie,” as it’s known, is a steep couloir that previously required an hour-long ridge hike to access. Get there early for a blank sheet of powder.
Resort Bite: Follow the locals to Taos’s midmountain Whistlestop Cafe for made-to-order, sweet or savory crepes.
Stay an Extra Day: Drive an hour west, across the scenic Rio Grand Gorge, to Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and Spa. Rejuvenate in natural hot springs and mud pools, or enjoy a massage and other spa luxuries, including fine food at the Artesian Restaurant. —Nick Heil
From the Early Winter 2016 issue.