Taos Ski Valley: A mountain’s majesty

DISCOVER LAS COMUNIDADES

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Surrounded by sacred wilderness and infused with the cultures of the Taos Pueblo, Hispanic and European peoples who have defined it, Taos Ski Valley (TSV) is steeped in legend and mystique. The vast, rugged terrain and generous, free-spirited community call out to a different kind of adventurer — a mountain lover with a passion for outdoor thrills and a taste for cultural discovery.

The new 80-room hotel The Blake at Taos Ski Valley, — named after the resort’s co-founder Ernie Blake — was open for its first full ski season this year. The decor and museum-quality art weave together the European, Hispanic and Native influences of Taos into a beautiful, cultural tapestry. It also offers luxurious spa treatments and excellent dining.

The village itself is young. It was incorporated in 1996. It is the highest residential home in the state at 10,388 feet above sea level. The last official census put TSV’s human population at 69, but they share the valley with a much larger population of elk, deer, bears and bighorn sheep.

To the top of the world on two feet

There are many hiking trails to chose from. The hike to Williams Lake Trail is a popular trek accessed at the parking lot in which 1,000 feet are gained in altitude (start at about 10,000 feet) in just under 2 miles. Englemann spruce stands dominate the beginning of the trail. As you get closer to the upper end, it opens up into meadow land and scattered rock fields. Another reward for reaching the natural lake is the opportunity to continue on up to Wheeler Peak along the Wheeler Peak Trail, the highest point in New Mexico at 13,131 feet. Other trails include Long Canyon/Bull of the Woods at 3.6 miles; Gavilan at 2.4 miles; Italianos Canyon at 3.5 miles; Manzanita Canyon at 4.2 miles; and Yerba Canyon at 4.0 miles. For more details on the trails and maps, go online to skitaos.com.

Due to new lift installation/construction, there will be no chairlift rides this summer. And when accessing the Wheeler Peak/Williams trailhead, be mindful of construction impacts.

On two wheels

The popular Northside Trail (ridenorthside.com) is a self-guided, fee-based mountain biking area on 1,200 acres of private recreational development. As a mapped and signed trail system designed especially for mountain biking, Northside is a looped trail network with spectacular overlooks, single and double track routes through blue spruce and aspen stands, and meadows. The terrain is best suited for the intermediate and higher level rider. Singletracks.com selected Northside as one of the 20 most scenic mountain bike trails in the Western U.S.

For the even more adventurous, one can pedal to the top of Frazer Mountain, 12,163 feet, the highest point on the property at an average grade of less than 10 percent.

Northside is open dawn to dusk from late June through October, weather permitting. Access permitsare for sale at many locations in Taos Ski Valley or at the trailhead kiosk. Permits are also sold in Taos at Taos Cyclery and Gearing Up Bike Shop.

Kids weekend day camp

The Field Institute of Taos offers a true camp experience for kids that focuses on outdoor education through games, nature crafts, hiking,  photography, obstacles and other “mountain fun.” The program is a full day for kids ages 6-12 and takes place every Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Camp begins June 24. Cost is $65 per day (scholarships are available). Meet at the base of chair 1 from 9 a.m.-10 a.m. to register and check in. In-town pick up and drop off is available. Call (575) 770-2391 or go online to fitaos.org.

Hungry?

The Resort Center has a rejuvenated look and feel. Restaurants are creating new menus in a commitment to providing more choices for healthier and selective diets with food coming from New Mexico sources, including organic produce and sustainable fisheries. TSV eateries include Northern New Mexican cuisine at Stray Dog Cantina; The Blonde Bear Tavern, featuring refined European alpine cuisine; and the 192 restaurant at The Blake, which specializes in wood-fired pizza and eclectic tapas. Please note that the Bavarian Lodge and Restaurant will be closed this summer for kitchen renovations.

Mountain weather

It’s always chilly at night in the mountains. So if you’re out after sunset, it’s wise to bring fleece or a sweater.

Events

July 7 Bacon & Brews

Noon- 4 p.m.

Sample beer and bacon from across the Southwest while cooling off in the mountain air.

The festival will be held outside at the Taos Ski Valley main base plaza area. Live music. skitaos.com

July 21 Taos Ski Valley Arts Festival

11:30 a.m.-4 p.m.

Check out and shop dozens of local and regional artists’ works, eat wonderful food, enjoy the children’s craft tent. Live music. Free admission. skitaos.com

Aug. 4 Up & Over Trail Run

9 a.m.-2 p.m.

Now in its 13th year, this 10k Trophy Series Event at Taos Ski Valley will challenge your body and stimulate the senses. taosskivalley.com/trailrun/

Aug. 17–19: Summer Wine Festival

9 a.m.-8 p.m.

Wine tastings, food, hiking, live music and more during this inaugural event. For a complete schedule, visit skitaos.com.

Sept. 1 Mutt Strut

11 a.m.-4 p.m.

The 2nd annual 5k dog fun run/walk at Taos Ski Valley to benefit Stray Hearts Animal Shelter and Taos Avalanche Dogs. Also dog activities, live music and food. Dogs must be on leashes. Registration begins at 9 a.m. skitaos.com

Sept. 15-16 Oktoberfest

11:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

Head to the mountains for the annual Oktoberfest celebration, weather permitting. Festivities include an authentic Schuplatter band, German beer and food, activities and crafts for kids, yodeling contest, stein-holding contests and much more. This is a free event for all ages. Oktoberfest will be held outside on the front side of the mountain next to the Children’s Center. skitaos.com

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