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Postcard from Taos, New Mexico
By JC, Cub Reporter
January 21, 2012

Those who committed to skiing the American West in mid-January have probably been falling on their poles for lack of snow - unless they were headed for Taos. I just finished a week of fun skiing at Taos, where some of the best snow is to be found this season.

At the start of the week, Taos had a base of 40 inches - not great, but much more than most areas in the West. Twelve inches of snow fell on my second day and the night after, resulting in powder that could be found throughout the day. Those of us who chose Taos for a trip were really glad we did.

Taos Ski Valley (TSV) is located some 45 minutes from the town of Taos, New Mexico, and about a three hour drive from the Albuquerque airport. Taos has a long history and is famous for its steeps. But there is much more.

The single best reason to spend a week at Taos is this: Ski Week lessons. An entire six days of lessons, two hours a day, with 7 students at most, cost me a total of $99. Really. (The rate varies through the season.) The ski school at Taos is top notch, and my instructor, Derek Gordon, was fabulous. It seemed that nearly everyone I talked with throughout the week took the lesson package, including a professional ski instructor who happened to be in the group that I traveled with. (You’re never too good to learn.) And nearly everyone raved about their instructors.

The base of the resort (that is, TSV) is a relatively-high 9,200 feet. The lifts will take you to 11,800 feet; if you like climbing, you can ski down from 12,500 feet. TSV boasts an annual average of more than 300 days of sunshine and 305 inches of snow. Despite its well-known chutes and other difficult runs, only about half of the terrain is labeled as expert. In fact, many years ago, my first skiing experience was at Taos; you don’t need to be an expert to enjoy your time on its slopes.

At the main base, Taos offers several skiing/boarding stores, some nice specialty shops, restaurants, and lodging. The food offerings are fine during the day, but can be slim during the evening. Lunch can be had at the main base or at a secondary base area on the far left, the latter of which is the location for the Phoenix Grill (part of TSV) and the Bavarian Lodge. For evening dining, consider at least one night at the Bavarian Lodge, which will pick you up from the main base in a shuttle, once you have reservations. As far as I was concerned, no lunch at either base was complete without a “magic bar,” a collection of all good things sweet in one delicious package. More options for lunch, dinner, and shopping can be found in the town of Taos, but the shuttle buses between the town and the resort are very limited. I spent the entire week at the mountain and was happy there.

I stayed at the Snakedance Condominiums, whose location at the base is ideal: a walk of a few hundred feet, without any up or down, takes you to the main lift. Snakedance is a great place. The people are very friendly, helpful, and prompt. There is an inviting lobby with a fireplace that is kept running. It offers a decent restaurant, a store that is larger and more diverse than stores associated with most lodging establishments, a hot tub, and a very nice ski and boot check (the boots are connected to driers when stored there). The rooms (mine was a two bedroom, two bath) are nice. Free wi-fi is present throughout with no charge and no stupid login.

I also found free wi-fi throughout the buildings owned by the resort, most notably in the eating establishments. This is a model for all resorts.

I had a wonderful week in Taos. The scenery was frequently spectacular, the snow was the best in the West, the place had a relaxed and welcoming feel.

Why go to Taos? Good snow and a lesson package that nobody could refuse. It’s a no-brainer.

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JimK
2 years ago
You scooped me JC:-) I also hope to turn in a trip report soon on my recent visit to Taos. Beautiful photos. It seems to me that Taos has lost a little ground in the grand pecking order of western resorts in recent decades due to a variety of factors. But sometimes what is old is new again. The pristine and awesome terrain at Taos will never go out of style. It is good to see them thrive in this strange winter.
Patrick McCorkle
2 years ago
Wow! The pictures are awesome. I was on the trip, and JC does an excellent job of capturing the essence of the experience.
SkiTaos.org
2 years ago
Glad you guys had a great time. The pictures are really outstanding. We appreciate the article and you sharing your experience at Taos Ski Valley with everyone else. Come back and see us anytime.
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