A Ski Season Like No Other

This Season, Mask Up!

Upon approaching NM-150, the road to Taos Ski Valley, a large traffic sign reminds us to wear a mask and practice Covid safe protocols. Welcome to skiing in 2020-21. There are no clusters of skiers and snowboarders waiting for the bus at KTAO because there is no public transportation up to the slopes. Just another sacrifice to keep visitors, residents, and workers as safe as possible.

Ticket sign in the parking lot at Taos Ski Valley

Arriving in the parking area after a beautiful winding drive up 150, helpful attendants in orange vests point us in the right direction to park. There's even a handy group/family drop off area near the Ticket Office (it's a long beige building in the parking lot, near the Thunderbird Road entrance). To remember where your car is, look for critter signs – most guests will be in Coyote parking. RV's can park for up to 5 days in the Gila Monster parking.

Remember to put your mask on before you exit your vehicle, and yes, you still need to wear a mask even if you are wearing a gaiter, even while skiing. No matter what mask/gaiter/scarf combo you wear, keep it over your mouth and nose. The staff will remind you to use your mask, but it's for a collective good.

Three masked women take a break from skiing at Taos

Seeing a few people struggling in their gear, it was apparent that they had come from a lower altitude. Don't expect to have the same energy – your body wants twice the amount of oxygen up here, so be kind to yourself and move more slowly if you are not used to the altitude. It can be tempting to pull down your mask when you feel breathless, simply stop and catch your breath if you need to. There's no shame in it – after all, you're up over 9,000 feet! (Usually, we recommend at least a day of acclimation if you are planning on physical activities.)

If you feel like you would benefit from some additional oxygen, most of the sporting goods shops around the Resort Plaza carry it. You can also find bottled Oxygen at Box Canyon, located in the 'Taos Tent' on Thunderbird Road. In addition to being our local post office they carry a variety of gifts from local artisans, unique postcards to send home, jewelry, artwork and some sweets and treats too!

Local gift shop in Taos Ski Valley

You'll want to plan on using your vehicle as your main storage area for large or bulky items since on-mountain storage is limited to day-use baskets, which rent for $20 per day. The basket check runs like a valet service; head to Thunderbird Road and look for the entrance. You can get your basket, put in your gear, and an attendant will store it for you. You are allowed to access your basket throughout the day, but since a six-foot distance from others must be maintained at the basket check area, you might anticipate a short wait.

We took our baskets to the nearby warming tent to change into our gear. Inside, propane heaters provided relief from the chill. Still, the tent was notably open enough to ensure that fresh air was moving through at all times. There were sanitizing wipes on each table, which was appreciated. There was no lack of hand sanitizer – it's provided everywhere.

Masked woman standing at an information tent in Taos Ski Valley

If you're looking for restrooms, you'll want to head to the Resort Plaza – just in front of Lift 1, you'll see Rhoda's outdoor eating area surrounded by stanchions. Follow those stanchions away from the Plaza to the metal stairs. Take the stairs down to the doors on your right and go inside the building to access the restrooms. You'll find a bottle fill area in the common area there too.

Looking for a hot treat, we headed to Black Diamond Espresso on the Resort Plaza. Their Mayan Hot Chocolate is entirely decadent, but their extensive menu of steamy goodness is sure to please everyone needing some warmth in their core.
You won't need to bring any cash with you - Taos Ski Valley Resort and other Village businesses have gone cashless. You'll need to use a card for all transactions. It's a smart way to keep transactions as contact-free as possible.

Sign indicating start of the line for the burrito bar at Taos

Shops are limited to a small number of people at a time, per the State's Covid Safe Practices, but it made shopping all the more pleasant. Friendly eyes behind masked faces greeted us. Indeed this bit of winter normalcy is a blessing for the retailers, restaurants, and lodges, who have needed to change every bit of their operations to open safely this year.

Since we didn't have a family to drop off and were parked downhill from the Ticket Office, we opted to ride the Gondolita up from the parking lot to the edge of the Resort Plaza on Sutton Place. Anyone can use the Gondola, but you must travel with members of your group, another Covid safe practice. While on the Gondolita, you will get a great view of the sledding hill and some of the ski school participants having fun in the snow. If you need a sled when you get to the mountain, they are available at most sporting goods stores.

A masked family stands in front of the Gondola at Taos with a sled

If you are willing to mask up, and follow the Covid safe practices, come on up or plan your Spring Break trip now. After all, the snow hasn't changed. The legendary dry powder still brings the thrills while the mountain works its magic. I'll wear a mask, no problem. It's worth it.

Snowboarder rides with New Mexico flag flying