Outdoor enthusiasts don’t have to look far to find adventure in Taos Ski Valley. Boasting some of the best rafting, skiing, climbing, mountain biking, snowshoeing, and hiking in the world, the area draws visitors from near and far looking for a taste of the great outdoors. Taos Ski Valley is tucked into the magnificent Sangre de Cristo Mountain range, the southernmost subrange of the Rockies. Most of the peaks exceed 12,000 feet in elevation (including Wheeler Peak, the tallest mountain in New Mexico), and the mountains make for a high-elevation outdoor playground that is unique to the Southwest.
Of course, there is more to the region than skiing, hiking, and biking. Off the trails, a Taos-area vacation showcases soul-warming New Mexican cuisine, a rich cultural atmosphere, and friendly accommodations. It’s unlike any place on earth and is a wonderful vacation destination for people who love the outdoors. Here are nine reasons why Taos Ski Valley is a true outdoor mecca.
1. The weather is perfect year round.
At Taos Ski Valley, everyone looks forward to a good snowstorm. When the weather outside is frightful, locals and visitors get ready to take to the mountains on skis, snowboards, or snowshoes. The snow-covered mountains offer a winter wonderland with plenty of opportunity for adventure. Because Taos sees an average of 283 days of sunshine per year, the days are fabulous in every season, even winter.
While Taos is known for its winter sports, it’s also an outdoor mecca during warm months, when people take to the hills to hike and bike, and the rivers draw paddlers and anglers. When autumn arrives, the aspens in the mountains turn brilliant shades of gold, and Taos becomes an ideal location to launch day trips to view fall colors. Rain or shine, warm or cold, there’s always an adventure waiting for you in the Taos Ski Valley.
2. It’s easy to try something new.
If there’s a certain outdoor activity you’ve been dying to try, Taos is a great place for beginners. The area’s landscape and favorable weather offer excellent terrain and conditions to learn kayaking, skiing, snowboarding, rock climbing, hiking, horseback riding, rafting, paddleboarding, hot air ballooning, and even llama trekking! And, if you’re not sure where to start, there are plenty of local guides that can ensure you’ll have a safe and fun experience.
3. Top-notch local gear shops provide everything you need.
Whether you’re trying skiing or snowboarding for the first time or if you’re a seasoned pro, there’s a good chance you’ll need to pick up some gear, clothing, and other supplies before you hit the slopes. Stop by one of Taos area’s local gear shops, which are spread throughout Taos and Taos Ski Valley, and include Le Ski Mastery, BootDoctors, Taos Sports, Alpine Extreme, and Cottam’s. If you’re visiting in the summer, Cottam’s, BootDoctors, and Taos Sports can fix you up with warm-weather gear.
4. The Taos Ski Valley scenery is in a league of its own.
You can expect to be rewarded with gorgeous views in just about any mountain town around the world, but the colorful desert landscape, breathtaking mountains, and sweeping horizons you’ll encounter in Taos Ski Valley set the region apart. A chairlift up to the peak of the ski area is a wonderful way to encounter stunning views quickly, and you’ll want to make sure you have your camera for all of your adventures either in the river, on the mountain, or in town.
Also, make sure that you’re outside during sunrise and sunset. You’ll get to experience the brilliant palette of colors that make up the New Mexico sky, and the mountains will adopt a stunning red hue when the light hits them just right. Once you experience a sight like that, you’ll truly understand why New Mexico is known as the Land of Enchantment.
5. The trails aren’t crowded, and folks are friendly.
Although the opportunities for fun and adventure are endless in Taos, the mountain never seems to be that crowded — at least not compared to other mountain destinations in the West. Visitors can truly enjoy connecting to nature and wandering the European-style hamlet without feeling rushed by others waiting their turn. Plus, the locals you encounter will be friendly and willing to share tips about their favorite trails, restaurants, and nearby hotspots.
6. It’s impossible to get bored.
You could spend days in Taos Ski Valley without ever doing the same thing twice. Between the hundreds of hiking and biking trails, the endless snowshoeing or snowmobiling routes, and the vast ski area, there are unlimited opportunities for enjoying the outdoors. Even if you choose to just sit and take in the gorgeous scenery, you’ll still be wowed and entertained.
7. Taos Ski Valley is constantly evolving.
No trip into Taos Ski Valley is ever the same, in part because the area is always evolving. Every season, the area sees new bike trails, new chairlifts, new rental options, and new opportunities for adventure.
8. There’s always a refreshment waiting after your adventure.
After a long day on the slopes or exploring the trails, nothing hits the spot like a hearty meal and a refreshing beverage. Fortunately, Taos Ski Valley’s local bars and eateries are overflowing with great food, drinks, and good vibes. Stop in at The Bavarian for delicious German fare and craft brews in an Alpine-inspired dining room, or at the Stray Dog Cantina for a soul-warming bowl of green chile and a gigantic margarita. If you’re looking for something a little more upscale, there are plenty of fine dining options available in nearby Arroyo Seco and the town of Taos, including Common Fire, Sabroso, Salt + Wine, and De La Tierra. Regardless of what you’re craving, you’ll find a place that caters to your tastes.
9. When the day is done, you’ll have a comfortable bed.
Check your worries at the door in one of the Taos Ski Valley’s unique accommodations. Whether you prefer to stay at a cozy mountain cabin or a luxurious alpine resort, you’ll find an enticing combination of plush bedding, crackling fireplaces, hot tubs, and even spa treatments to help you recover from the day and rest up for the next one. You’ll need your energy if you’re going to make the most of your Taos vacation!
If you pause for a moment and try to imagine the ideal destination for outdoor adventure, it probably looks and feels a lot like the Taos Ski Valley. With its exceptional weather, diverse natural areas, high-quality food and entertainment, and friendly vibe, this mountain town makes visitors feel as if they’ve arrived in a sort of real-world Shangri-La. While no place on Earth is perfect, folks who love the outdoors will discover that the Taos Ski Valley comes pretty darn close.
Written by Sarah Strohl for RootsRated Media in partnership with New Mexico. Featured image provided by New Mexico Tourism Department.