Living the High (Altitude) Life in Taos Ski Valley

Where do you go when you’ve got a group of great buddies, a week off of work, and a hunger for great skiing? Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico, where the slopes are unreal and the community welcomes you like one of their own.

I’ve been lucky enough to travel with the same crew of four to five pals every year. After graduating from Randolph Macon College in Virginia, we’ve made it a point to get the band back together every once in a while. Luckily, our wives are all cool enough to allow us these reunions and this most recent one didn’t disappoint. The gang decided to give Taos Ski Valley a try, after hearing such wonderful things about the excellent runs and the epic El Nino snowfall this year. While the mountain liked to remind us that we’re not college seniors anymore, our time together in Taos was unforgettable.

After flying into Albuquerque, we spent our first day and night in Santa Fe, which I would highly recommend. Not only is Santa Fe a cool town, it was also a great place to get acclimated before heading up to Taos. And I do mean up to Taos – it’s a 3000 foot elevation difference.

The village atmosphere at Taos Ski Valley is small and secluded, and the existing facilities still have the charming look and feel of the early 1970’s. The place felt like it existed in its own special bubble away from the world and that feeling is exacerbated by the rich culture of the area, with a strong sense of rememberance for New Mexican and Pueblo history.

Wilderness Lodge was a great home base for us and is one of the coolest places I have ever stayed. The timber was reclaimed from the original Winchester Gun Factory, and a pot belly wood stove made the house feel like it was straight out of a Civil War film. Overall, the house was incredibly comfortable, featuring spectacular views of the back side of Kachina. One of our favorite features was the killer sun deck where we’d hang out in the afternoons.

My Area Recommendations


Cottom’s Ski Shop

The staff is very knowledgeable and accommodating, they even did some shopping for our wives and kids on our behalf.


The Bavarian Lodge

With incredibly friendly wait staff and proximity to the Kachina Lift, I can’t recommend this place for Après highly enough. Only beer and wine is available here, but this is a super cool spot for pre-dinner drinks after an incredible day of skiing.


St. Bernard

A quintessential old school ski lodge with live music and food and drinks to die for. The rooftop deck was awesome for lunch, as was the pizza and the PBR deck. Ask the Xplore Team to snag you a reservation to this highly sought-after hotspot.

The altitude at Taos Ski Valley is no joke and your lungs will remind you of it…often! But the slopes are completely worth a little wheezing and, if you’re prepared to hike a bit, the opportunities for fresh tracks are endless. The views were absolutely unreal—being in the highest municipality in the U.S. certainly has its perks!

On the spectrum of atmosphere and difficulty, I would place the slopes of Taos Mountain somewhere in between Jackson Hole and Grand Targhee ski areas in Wyoming. Taos sort of exists in a realm all its own, though, where the outside world doesn’t often reach through the Taos bubble. Because of that, there were no crowded slopes and not once did we wait in a lift line.

That’s not to say that Taos has been forgotten by the rest of the world—you may have read about the recent plans for further development by owner Louis Bacon, who is investing an impressive amount in the evolution of this great treasure. I have a feeling that Taos Ski Valley will be turning a lot more heads in the next couple of years.

While Taos is a very technical mountain, with plenty of steep trees, boulders and chutes to discover within the lift-serviced terrain, even the members of our crew who weren’t expert skiers easily found fun ways down the mountain. Despite its reputation as a bucket-list ski destination, Taos wasn’t only reserved for the seasoned and daring. We were each able to enjoy the thrill of Kachina Peak and the surreal mountain vistas in our own ways.
All in all, our guys trip to Taos Ski Valley was one of the best yet. It was a great time to reconnect with old friends, enjoy good food and drink, marvel at the beauty of the American Southwest and, of course, a fantastic excuse to experience some truly epic skiing!

Chad Rowe is the Senior Vice President of Business Development for Natural Retreats and currently lives in Charlottesville, VA. Want to have a Taos Ski Valley vacation as great as Chad’s? Call our Xplore Team now: (888) 451-0156