NOT JUST ANOTHER WINTER WEEKEND — TAOS SKI VALLEY

Culture, Ballooning, Snowshoeing, Snowmobiling & Chile

By Emily Taylor  / Visit USA Parks

I was seeking a different winter vacation; a mix of adventure and culture. With a ski resort towering over the desert, I drove to Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico. The best part of this trip was that I could ski one day, and explore other winter activities on the next! When I needed to rest my legs, I soaked up the rich New Mexican culture that surrounds Taos.



I RELAXED
While there are many places to stay in Taos and Taos Ski Valley, I stayed in two different condos in the Ski Valley. Both offered uncompromising views of the ski resort and were an easy, short walk to the lift. The St. Bernard Condos are an extension of the historic Hotel St. Bernard. The condos were warm and welcoming, even stocked with redwood for the wood burning stove. It was spacious, yet cozy… perfect for a ski vacation. The second condo at Powderhorn Vacation Rentals was colorful and cheerful. The studio apartment had a small kitchen, so I could still make my own breakfast and coffee in the morning. The indoor hot tub offered the perfect reprieve on a winter’s day.

Do what I did: go for an après ski beer at the Rathskeller Bar in the Hotel St. Bernard, and maybe cozy up around the fireplace in the dining room.



I SKIED

Skiing is basically a right-of-passage for a Colorado gal like myself, and I just love it! While our mountains are amazing, going for the day can be a bit of an exhausting process with traffc, lines, and so on. I skied Taos on a Saturday, and I was delighted at 10am to walk right up, get scanned and hop on the lift. The snow gods graced the mountain with fresh snow a few days before, and I was still throwing powder around. Though I stuck to mostly the green and blue runs, some of my more daring friends “hiked the ridge” to ski some of the more adventurous terrain Taos has to offer. With a bit more time on the mountain, I would have embraced the resort’s snowsports lessons.  They offer week-long immersive programs that get riders moving forward as quickly and comfortably as possible.

My advice: don’t stress about packing skis in your luggage, and just rent from Cottam’s Ski Shop–they’re friendly and helpful with top-notch gear!





I FLEW
I’ll admit I was nervous about our morning hot air balloon ride… in January. I found myself quickly delayering just before take of as the heat from the burners helped warm us a bit. We hoped to
fly out of the Rio Grande Gorge, but winds that morning had a different plan. The most spectacular Plan B flew us over the town of Taos, with inspiring views of the Sangre de Cristo mountains nearby. It was the most beautiful and quiet morning, and a wonderful way to rest my legs after skiing.

Tip from our pilot, Sol: bring a camera strap!





I VROOMED UP THE HILL
We met Al in the Taos Ski Valley village and he guided us up to the entrance of Northside. From there, we hopped aboard our snowmobile for the afternoon and whizzed up rolling, snowcovered jeep roads. We zig-zagged up the mountain, past snowy trees, paused to look at big horn sheep on the ridge, and hopped off to take in the gorgeous views over Taos Ski Valley. Snowmobiling was yet another way to take in the beauty of the New Mexican mountains!

Pro tip: pack some hand-warmers, you’ll never know when they’ll come in handy!





I EXPLORED THE AREA’S CULTURE
Back in Taos, I took a day trip and explored the region’s culture–from the history, art, and architecture to the food. Must see places include the Martinez Hacienda, San Francisco de Asis, and of course the main square in Taos. Another rich example of the culture can be found in the Taos cuisine, specifcally the New Mexican chile. There are plenty of dining options in the area to give chile a whirl.

Local’s tip: Order your dish “Christmas”, for a bit of both red and green chile!



This article was created in partnership with the Taos Ski Valley Chamber of Commerce and Taos Ski Valley Resort in Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico.