For those not familiar with Taos Ski Valley (“TSV”), it is located about 45-minutes north of Taos and roughly two hours north of Santa Fe, NM. The valley is known for double-black diamond expert ski terrain in the winter and world-class hiking in the summer. We break down the best activities to do in TSV year-round.
Table of contents
- The History of Taos Ski Valley
- What to do in Taos Ski Valley in the Winter
- What to do in Taos Ski Valley in the Summer
- Where to Stay in Taos Ski Valley
- Where to Eat in Taos Ski Valley
The History of Taos Ski Valley
Similar to other legendary ski towns like Aspen and Telluride, Taos Ski Valley started off as a mining village. The Rio Hondo, where the ski village is located, was known for its gold, copper, and timber mining opportunities. However, by 1906 the mining activities started to wind down due to weather conditions. Then, roughly 40 years later – shortly after the end of World War II – Orville E. Pattison purchased a majority of land in the Valley.
Pattison originally purchased the land, but it wasn’t without the vision of developer Ernie Blake that the ski valley started to grow. In the 1950’s Blake began to develop the lower village and subdivide the land into building lots. By 1956, the first lift was installed (Snakedance) and by 1957 the famous Al’s Run lift went up – Lift One as it is known today. History courtesy of VTSV.org.
What to do in Taos Ski Valley in the Winter
They call New Mexico the “Land of Enchantment” for good reason. The magical sunsets over the snow-capped peaks are inspiring and revitalizing. An athletic vacation to TSV in the winter offers an extreme sport fix that not many destinations can provide. The incredible in-bounds hikes for turns paired with lift accessible steeps makes Taos one of the best ski resorts in the country.
Aside from skiing, there are plenty of snowshoe trails and family fun activities in the Ski Valley. If you are looking to unwind, try the Taos Spa & Wellness Center at The Blake hotel. The perfect spot to get a massage and enjoy a soak in the hot tube.
From snow sports in the winter to endless mountain adventures in the summer, Taos Ski Valley has so much to offer. We share some of our favorite activities to help you plan your next athletic vacation to TSV.
Skiing Kachina Peak
If you are looking for “steeps”, Kachina Peak is the place to go. Accessible by lift, the terrain more closely resembles something that you would have to hike to normally. Don’t forget to soak up the view once at the peak. For a pre-lunch run, keep skiers right down from Kachina Peak and connect to “El Funko” which ends at The Bavarian restaurant. This European style lodge serves up authentic German lunch fare on a massive sun deck.
Bootpacking Taos Mountain
From the top of Lift 2 you have hiking access to some of the best runs on the mountain via Highline Ridge and West Basin Ridge. The chutes off of the West Basin Ridge host Freeride World Tour athletes and are some of the gnarliest terrain in the resort. There is no easy way down from either of these ridges and the hike itself is difficult. If you have never hiked for turns before, hire an instructor or guide to lead the way.
Family Friendly Snow Activities
Taos is a great family friendly resort with a dedicated mini gondola just for the kids slope. The kids slope is separate from the runs on the main mountain. This means less chance of out of control skiers running into beginners and more fun for everyone.
In addition to the private bunny slope, there is great sledding around The Blake and other hotels in the Ski Valley. If you’re looking for good old fashion family fun, grab a sled and hit the slopes.
What to do in Taos Ski Valley in the Summer
Summer time in TSV provides visitors with epic hiking, extreme mountain biking, and relaxing forest bathing. Since the town itself of TSV only has only a few hundred full-time residents (if that), there is never much of a crowd. Most of the people you will run into are escaping the heat in Texas or locals from Rio Hondo or Taos.
Because of the high elevation of TSV- over 9,300′- the weather stays fairly cool throughout the summer. The high elevation does mean that weather can change dramatically throughout the day. In December 2021 a fierce windstorm– with gusts exceeding 100mph- reshaped the valley and toppled thousands of trees. Luckily, these extreme events are rare and the typical summer day will consist of some temperature change and the sporadic thunder and lightening storm.
If you are up for the adventure, Taos will provide you with unforgettable experiences. Grab a friend and try one of our top things to do in Taos in the summer.
Mountain Biking Taos Mountain
A new addition to Taos Ski Resort, the mountain bike trails are now open and ready for riders of all abilities. From easy rides to the Bavarian for lunch, to extreme downhill adventures, there is really something for everyone in TSV.
The advanced mountain bike trails are just as extreme as the ski runs. With tight switch backs and fast single track flow sections, the variety on mountain is incredible. The Blue Trail (shown below) is the perfect warmup trial for advanced riders.
Separate from steep MTB runs, there are plenty of green trails that the whole family can enjoy. One of the best beginner mountain bike trails in Taos is the Green Chile trial featured below. The smooth terrain makes this trail perfect for beginners who want a longer more challenging trail and intermediates looking for a fast flow trial.
Hiking in Taos
Hiking is one of the most popular summer activities in Taos. The accessibility to trails and variety of terrain draws in hikers of all abilities to the Valley. Three of the must do hikes in Taos are;
- Wheeler Peak via Williams Lake (8.5 miles, hard, out-and-back)
- Bull of the Woods Mountain (6.2 miles, moderate, out-and-back)
- Gavilan Trail (6.6 miles, hard, out-and-back)
The Wheeler Peak hike is the most popular of these three with Bull of the Woods Mountain coming in a close second. These hikes start and end at the Taos Ski Valley main resort area which is anchored by The Blake. Many people drive to the Bavarian to start the Wheeler Peak hike to shave off the extra couple miles hiking from Lift 1 to the actually trailhead for Wheeler Peak that is by Lift 4 and the Bavarian.
eBike Rides in Taos Ski Valley
The most popular ride in TSV is from the rental shop at The Blake to the Bavarian restaurant along the Rubezahl trail. The Rubezahl is a wide fire road trail that has a steady incline between “the beach” at Lift 1 and Lift 4/The Bavarian. Riding an eBike is the perfect way to make quick work of the steady climb and make the ride enjoyable for everyone. For the more adventurous, on the way down, there are some technical single track trails just to the side of the Rubezahl that you can cut on and off from.
It is important to note that eBikes are much heavier than your traditional downhill bike. The green flow trails- like Green Chile Flow Trail shown above- are the best for coming downhill on.
A new term to an age old activity, forest bathing simply means spending time in nature without electronic devices for an extended period of time. Indeed, this might not sound like the most excited activity until you have actually tried it. Taos is the perfect place to escape into the woods, technology free, to soak in the benefits of forest bathing.
The abundance of out-and-back trails in Taos make it easy for you to travel without GPS or cellphone. Lastly, don’t forget to bring plenty of water, a friend, and other hiking essentials while exploring. Forest bathing is best done on an easy trail where you can enjoy the surroundings.
Where to Stay in Taos Ski Valley
Vacation Rentals in Taos Ski Valley
If you booked a vacation rental with a kitchen, be sure to stop at Cid’s Food Market on your drive up. There are no grocery stores in TSV. The only option for anything close to grocery’s in the Valley is Bumps Market which has chips, ramen, beverages, booze, and general household suppliers.
The Snakedance Condos have the best location in the Valley. The Snakedance is located right next to Lift 1, these condos offer full kitchens and come in studio, one, two and three bedroom options. Another great options is the Edelweiss Lodge that is located next to the beginner hill.
Hotels in TSV
There is really one option for hotel accommodations in Taos, and that is The Blake. Recently built, this luxury resort hotel offers amazing spa services, dining, pool, workout facility, and airport shuttle (to Taos airport).
Where to Eat in Taos Ski Valley
There are limited options in TSV, but they are all good options. The Blonde Bear Tavern inside the Edelweiss is a must try. During the winter, get there early and grab a table by the fireplace. The Blond Bear is also one of the top aprés ski spots in the Valley.
After a big day of activity, don’t miss out on a burger from 192 at The Blake. An upscale setting with enhanced bar food and elegant vibe.
For the best grab-and-go during the day, Cid’s Market has a new location by the ice rink with pre-made options and hot entrés to order. They also have similar pantry items to Bumps and a much larger selection of wine.