A Good Time for Taos

    Here’s why you’ll want to head Southwest for a ski weekend or cultural road trip.

    Taos Ski Valley
    Photo Courtesy of Taos Ski Valley.

    Taos is the end of many roads,” says Steven Rose, director of hospitality of The Blake at Taos Ski Valley. The famous Southwestern outpost represents the convergence of the Santa Fe Trail, the El Camino Real of the Spanish conquistadors, the northernmost of the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico, the eastern border of the Navajo migratory lands, the western border of the Plains tribes, the arts mecca of the Taos Society of Artists formed in 1915, and the ski culture since the 1950s. “You have all of these cultures coming together in Taos; it’s truly a melting pot,” Rose says.

    While figuratively long on history, the road is surprisingly short in the literal sense. The one-and-a-half-hour drive from Santa Fe makes a scenic day trip. And at about three and half hours from Colorado Springs, Taos is equidistant or closer than beloved Colorado ski slopes, such as Crested Butte and Wolf Creek. Those who take the path are rewarded with rich culture, world-class art, a starkly beautiful desert-meets-mountains landscape and a classic independent ski resort. As more and more Coloradans are discovering, it’s a good time to head to Taos.

    With the 2-year-old Blake hotel serving as its key base development so far, Taos Ski Valley is in the midst of a 10-year, $300-million renovation since being sold to billionaire hedge-fund manager and conservationist Louis Bacon in 2013.

    Some locals worried initially that the sale might lead to corporatization. After all, these are the days of ski industry consolidation and conglomeration. And Taos boasts a legendary history of fierce independence and colorful soul, thanks to its founder, Ernie Blake. The charismatic Swiss-German pioneer and purveyor of the ski lifestyle famously spied the former mining area from the cockpit of his Cessna 170 and hand-carved the slopes out of the rugged terrain beginning in the 1950s.

    Taos Ski Valley.
    Photo Courtesy of Taos Ski Valley.

    But Taos has doubled down on its indie spirit, now with the resources to accomplish upgrades the Blake family could only dream of. The Blake is a good example. The luxury hotel feels more like the comfortable home of an unpretentious art collector. It does, in fact, contain a large and impressive collection displayed throughout its premises, purposefully curated to interweave all the threads of local culture and history. There are Navajo blankets, pottery from various pueblos, historic photos, furniture in the style of the 1930s Work Progress Administration era, and drawings and paintings by the influential members of the Taos Arts Society—including Georgia O’Keefe. And, of course, there are plenty of Blake family photos and ski memorabilia that serve as time capsules of the evolution of a modern snow industry and lifestyle.

    Ski Stats
    Nov. 22 Opening Day 2018
    19 Miles from the heart of Taos to Taos Ski Valley
    5-7 Days included on the Ikon Pass
    305 Inches annual snowfall
    13 Lifts, including new high-speed quad
    110 Trails- 51% Expert 25% Intermediate 24% Beginner
    1,294 Acres

    Other upgrades include a new gondola-served Children’s Center and beginner area, new high-speed quad chairlift, expanded snow-making equipment and a new riverwalk that includes environmental restoration to the Rio Hondo flowing through the base area. Under Bacon’s watch, Taos has continued to pioneer, especially when it comes to sustainability. Taos Ski Valley is the first ski resort to be certified as a B Corp, which publicly and legally holds it to the highest social and environmental standards. The geothermally heated and cooled Blake earned LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certification.

    “Everything we do is about improving the guest experience while preserving the underlying spirit, soul and history of the mountain,” says CEO David Norden. “Amid the rapidly consolidating ski industry, Taos Ski Valley remains proudly independent, but we recognize the need to give visitors a world-class experience, one that does more than offer great skiing, but which allows skiers and riders of all levels to enjoy all Northern New Mexico has to offer: great food, culture, art, history and spirit.”

    The cultural mystique of Taos is alive and well. Ski Magazine named Taos Resort of the Year for Local Flavor for 2019. And where else will ski instructors lead you to a hidden Martini Tree to swill a bit of liquid courage from exotic-looking glass porrons? Somewhere, Ernie Blake is smiling.


    Taste of Taos

    Taos holds many treasures for adventurous foodies. Here’s a half-dozen of our favorites.

    192 at the Blake: Eclectic shared plates and wood-fired pizzas in a communal yet intimate dining/living room. skitaos.com

    The Bavarian: Ski in for authentic Wiener schnitzel and steins of German bier under the gaze of mounted animal heads. skitaos.com

    Love Apple: Organic, local, simple, delicious fare housed in an 1800s chapel in town. theloveapple.net

    La Cueva: Like pulling up a chair in a tiny, lopsided, historic adobe home for authentic New Mexican cooking. lacuevacafe.com

    Chokolá Bean to Bar: A slice of nirvana in the heart of historic Taos, featuring all things small-batch, handcrafted chocolate. chokolabeantobar.com

    Manzanita Market: The The community tables are welcoming at the organic cafe. The mint chocolate chip ice cream is otherworldly thanks to fresh mint grown at the Taos Pueblo. manzanitamarket.net


    Photo Courtesy of Ojo Caliente.

    Soak

    Ojo Caliente: Soak your cares away in the mineral waters and mud bath in the soothing, desert setting about 45 minutes outside of Taos. Don’t want to leave? Stay overnight and schedule yoga or spa treatments. Bring your lift ticket for a discount. ojospa.com

    Immerse

    Taos Pueblo: The UNESCO World Heritage Site is considered the oldest continuously inhabited dwelling in North America, home to the Taos Indians for over 1,000 years. Check for closures during certain ceremonies. taospueblo.com

    Explore

    Millicent Rogers Museum: A good entry point to the Taos arts scene, the MRM combines 2,000 years of rotating Southwest art and history in the home of the fashionista who imprinted Taos jewelry on the national couture in the 1940s. millicentrogers.org

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