Taos ski area, located in New Mexico, is one of the great hidden gems of the west. Unlike the big Colorado or Utah ski resorts, Taos is relatively modest in size, but has an incredible amount of diverse terrain and top notch expert runs.
The resort is usually open from November through April, depending on the snowfall, which averages about 305 inches per year. A two and a half hour drive from Santa Fe, Taos is an excellent place to spend a couple of days with friends or a week for an unforgettable family vacation.
Taos Ski Area Stats
In addition to its 305 inches of annual snowfall, Taos ski area also receives a whopping 300 plus days of sunshine. Some additional statistics include:
- 1,294 acres
- 110 trails
- 24 percent beginner trails
- 25 percent intermediate trails
- 51 percent expert trails
- 13 total lifts
- Base elevation is 9,207 feet
- Highest peak is 12,481 feet
- Vertical drop is 2,612 feet
Taos Ski Valley History
The history of Taos Ski Valley begins in the early 1950s when Ernie Blake, who was living in Santa Fe with his wife Rhoda and children, was managing the new Santa Fe Ski Basin. Part of his job was to fly his Cessna 170 to Southern Colorado to work at the sister ski area in Glenwood Springs. All the while, Blake dreamed of having a ski area of his own. As he flew between Santa Fe and Glenwood Springs he searched for a place to build his vision. Eventually Blake found the ideal spot at Taos and in 1955 the couple started to build what is now a top notch North American ski resort. The first lift was installed in the fall of 1956 by Ernie and 16 other men from Taos. A year later they installed a Poma platter lift, which pulled skiers along the ground at two times the speed of a modern lift.
Today, Taos Ski Valley is one of the very few family owned and operated ski resort in North America. It is still run by the Blake’s children and grandchildren. As a result, the resort is an excellent place for a family ski vacation because you don’t have the typical flashy clubs and after-hours scene that you might experience at other resorts in the Rocky Mountains.
What to Do at Taos
If you are bringing the family along to Taos ski area, you will be greeted with an excellent ski school where kids can take private or group lessons. Parents can take a variety of specialized classes such as telemarking, moguls and more.
The Ernie Blake Ski School is consistently voted as one of the top in the country. In addition to lessons for beginners, intermediate or advanced skiers, the ski school recently opened a Teen Center with video games, sofas and a television.
After learning the newest techniques, you and your kids can show off new found skills on the NASTAR racecourse. This racecourse is coin-op, so you can race to your heart’s content between 10 am and 3 pm Wednesday through Sunday.
For the snowboarders and free-skiers in the group, the Out-To-Launch Terrain Park is located on Maxie’s run under lift #7. It offers two big airs, a hip, a quarter pipe and rails.
If you or the little ones are weary of skiing, take a ride with Big Al on one of his guided snowmobile tours to the peaks and ridges above Taos Ski Valley. You will have the opportunity to see some of the most spectacular scenery in the southwest.
After a long day on the slopes you and everyone in your party will be hungry, and Taos offers no less than five on-mountain dining options.
- Tenderfoot Katie’s Cafeteria: The place to go for a quick, inexpensive breakfast or lunch, this cafeteria offers a wide selection of dishes including burgers, tacos and sandwiches, as well as an expanded salad bar and a self-service soup station.
- The Martini Tree Bar: Up the stairs from Tenderfoot Katie’s is the top spot for apres ski libations. Live entertainment, pool tables and a high-definition flat screen television keep the action lively.
- Rhoda’s Restaurant: Named after the founding mother of Taos Ski Valley, Rhoda’s is located slopeside in the Resort Center. This casual dining spot features soups, chili, overstuffed sandwiches and a quiet atmosphere. Dinner is steak-house fare with affordable prices.
- The Phoenix Grill: The Phoenix Grill is located at the base of the #4 chair and is the top spot for enjoying burgers, Frito pies, pizza, sandwiches or soups while watching skiers swish down the slopes. When it is sunny, the outdoor deck is the go-to spot for soaking up the some winter sun.
- The Whistlestop Cafe: The Whistlestop is just that…a quick stop for a cup of coffee, a slice of pizza or a bowl of soup.