Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico

Photo: Kevin Muncie via flickr

You promised you’d be back. The first time you visited Taos Ski Valley was just a day trip. You drove north to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, found perfect powder, and skied on one of the most challenging mountains in the West. Then you returned to Santa Fe and spent the next few days wishing you were still in the mountains. You vowed to return. Life got in the way, though. Now with big trips on pause, you finally have time to make good on your promise.

Taos Ski Valley is a high alpine village in Northern New Mexico. It lies 20 miles north of Taos, an artsy town that deserves a trip of its own. The Colorado border is just a bit farther in the opposite direction. Copper miners first settled the area in the 1800s. It was abandoned when Ernie and Rhoda Blake arrived in the 1950s. They found some of the best snow in the Southwest, built a ski resort and a Bavarian-themed village, and created one of the best ski schools in North America. Taos Ski Valley became one of the best independent ski resorts in the country.

After Ernie died in 1989, Rhoda and her family sold their beloved ski resort. Since then, snowboarding is no longer banned and the resort has expanded. But the laid-back vibe, an abundance of snow, and long mogul runs remain. Most people spend a lot more time here than they originally planned.

Photo: Taos Ski Valley

You decide not to wait until winter to return. Even though the snow is long gone—the ski season usually ends at the beginning of April—you could really use some fresh mountain air right now. There’s plenty of things to do that don’t involve snow. Chair 4 still runs for scenic views of Wheeler Peak, the tallest mountain in New Mexico. Biking, hiking, and horseback riding trails let you get away from the crowds. Hidden alpine lakes offer even more solitude as you fish for brook, brown, and rainbow trout. While hot air balloons let you take in the view high above the dramatic landscape.

The last piece of the Taos Ski Valley puzzle is a ski-in/ski-out hotel. The Blake opened a few years ago near Lift 1. The modern, green-certified hotel offers a ski valet and storage during the winter. Gorgeous views of the mountains last all year. Its lobby features a wood-beamed ceiling, a fireplace, and cozy furniture. Aspen-print wallpaper and pueblo textiles ground you in New Mexico. So does the artwork. Pieces by Georgia O’Keeffe, Gustave Baumann, and Edward Curtis line the halls. Tours are available to walk you through the museum-quality pieces. Plus 192 at the Blake, with its massive kiva fireplace, is the place to hang out for tapas and wine when the day’s adventures are complete. Promises kept.

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