Taos Vacation From Winter Skiing to Summer Hiking
There is so much to do and see in Taos, New Mexico, you better plan to stay a few extra days. At its highest point, Taos Ski Valley sits at 12,606 feet and is inhabited at over 9,200 feet at the village level.
Hike. Bike. Raft. Fish. Galleries. Shop. Spa. Relax. Repeat.
Summer in Taos strikes the ideal balance between warm sun and cool mountain air. The challenge is deciding what to do. Experience more than 80 galleries and historic museums. Relax in a natural mineral spring or one of our five-star spas. Have lunch with a llama or ride the white-water rapids down the Rio Grande.
Taos in the winter offers some of the best skiing under the sun! Ski enthusiasts love the champagne powder conditions and incredible terrain. Taos is known for its beautiful desert landscape adobe buildings, enchanted Native American art in addition to a top family-friendly ski school and ski better weeks for all levels. Take advantage of the ski better weeks for skiers seeking dramatic improvement in their skills. This includes special programs such as Masters ski week for the over 50-skier, women's ski weeks and mogul/bump workshops.
At Taos, unlike most ski areas in North America, the ski school has been a major component since Ernie Blake founded the mountain in 1956. Blake was one of the first certified ski instructors in the U.S. He founded the Ernie Blake Ski School in 1958 and hired his friend Jean Mayer, former chief of the American Army ski patrol, as the technical director. Jean still works on the mountain to this day. When he took over the school, he recruited the best instructors he could find from around the world, and the school quickly gained notoriety.
The Taos “Learn to Ski Week” also began in the late fifties. According to Ernie Blake (in “Ski Pioneers” by Rick Richards) “We needed Learn to Ski Week because the mountain forced you into having people in ski school … Some of [the visitors to Taos Ski Valley] are great skiers at home in Illinois or Wisconsin or Minneapolis or Boston, and when they come here, they are baffled by the tremendous mountain, and they would leave angry at us … if we didn’t force them to go into ski school. They learn so much because our ski school is built not as a business but as a service to the hotels and to the ski area to make people happy because they learn to handle our mountain.”
And “handling” this mountain is no easy feat. Nearly 1,300 acres of skiable terrain offer a vertical drop of 2,612 feet. If you count the hikeable terrain (and who wouldn’t, since the famous ridge hikes allow access to some of the steepest and sweetest snow in North America) you’ll have 3,274 vertical feet to play on. Kachina Peak’s coveted summit stands at 12,481 feet above sea level. Of the 110 runs in Taos, more than half of them are expert only. A sign at the base of lift one attempts to calm first-time visitors. “DON’T PANIC!” it says. “You’re looking at only 1/30 of Taos Ski Valley. We have many easy runs too!” The sign neglects to mention, however, that only 24% of the terrain is suitable for beginners. “This is a very honest mountain,” Mugsey told us at the ski clinic. “If you can ski here, you can ski anywhere in the world.”
One of the reasons Taos Ski School is so unique is that it does not attract recreational skiers who take lessons merely to cut lift lines. According to Mugsey, Taos looks at skiers as athletes rather than recreational skiers, which allows the instructors to focus on coaching rather than entertaining.