Skiing New Mexico

Trust me, there's a great view.

Taos, of course, is the stuff of legends. In skiers' lore, it ranks with Aspen, Sun Valley and Squaw Valley among North America's must ski places. So, when I'm standing at the bottom of Al's Run, the legendary trail at the legendary resort, and reading the sign that starts out by saying "Don't panic!" and goes on to explain that what you see before you is only a fraction of what the place has to offer, I can't help wondering if even I, a damned good skier, have bitten off more than I can chew.

Indeed, Taos offers as much as any skier could care to chew. Picking our way across the High Traverse ledge, the runs drop so steeply to our right that vertigo sets in. You'd best know how to set an edge up here. But, that, too is just a fraction of what's to be found here. You can hike up from the top of Kachina Lift (some say it's a 20-minute hike, but we flatlanders would lean towards 45 minutes) and take on the awe-inspiring bowl off Kachina Peak, or drop in en-route to a series of chutes and glades that depart the Highline Ridge at regular intervals, each a bit more memorable than the last.

These, then, are the downhill routes that made the Taos legend. That, and Ernie Blake's somewhat absurd notion of putting a Bavarian style Alpine resort in the middle of the American southwest. Whether a Bavarian style makes sense is a matter of aesthetics. But, the need for a more intermediate-friendly ski hill eventually became obvious. And, Taos has responded to the challenge. Both sides of the mountain offer surprisingly pleasant intermediate cruising, especially off the Kachina Lift, but the novice trails remains somewhat limited. The ski school, however, is so good that novices should be tackling blue runs in relatively short order.

Meanwhile, if it's southwestern flavor you're after, the trick is to stay in town—about a half-hour drive down the access road. Replete with a classic, central town plaza, dozens of atmosphere-rich B&Bs, eateries and art galleries and a stone's throw from the famous Taos Pueblo, this is the place that first got Georgia O'Keefe hooked on New Mexico, and where D.H. Lawrence liked to hang out. Taos offers classic skiing, excellent facilities, great family programs and 312 inches of annual snowfall.

Be aware, however, of two things: One, snowboarders are not welcome here; and two, you will have to make a choice between lodging on the mountain or in town—a choice because the access road can be a laborious trip, particularly during the pre- and post-skiing rush hours, but also later when the apres-ski life has worn you to a nub.

Ski Packages—let us do all the work. Complete ski packages including airfare, lodging, lift tickets and ground transportation.
Phone Number: 505-776-2291
Accommodations: 800-776-1111
Web Site:

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

Best Hotels in Taos


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »