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Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico

 Northern New Mexico has some of the best skiing to be found in the United States, and Taos has long been legendary for its steeps and deep powder.

Taos Ski Valley is a little piece of the Alps, founded by a Swiss native and surrounded by hotels and restaurants built by Frenchmen and Austrians. It’s near the town of Taos, which is a rich mix of Spanish and Indian cultures, blended over the centuries to produce the Southwestern style. This style, in art, cuisine and architecture, isn’t trendy here; it’s the way things have always been.

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TAOS HISTORY | MOUNTAIN STATS

Taos Ski Valley holds another distinction: While many resorts walk a delicate marketing tightrope, touting whatever expert terrain they possess while trying not to scare anyone off, Taos seems to enjoy its tough reputation. It wisely advises visitors to meet the challenge by enrolling in Ski-Better-Week, a package of lessons, accommodations, meals and lift tickets. Just about everybody staying at the mountain enrolls in ski school. If you aren’t part of a class, you feel like the kid who didn’t get chosen for the baseball team. Apres-ski talk centers on Ski-Better-Week anecdotes, leaving independents to sit at the bar with little to add to the discussion.

Fifty-one percent of Taos’ runs are rated expert, and half of the expert runs are double-black diamonds. Intermediates will have a field day with great steep cruising. Beginners are limited or challenged, depending on how one looks at the terrain. But first-timers have a surprisingly good isolated area to learn. Rise up to meet Taos’ challenge. If you normally ski blue runs at other resorts, you can ski Taos. It may be tough at first, but persist—you’ll catch on. Taos can be an extremely rewarding ski experience because of its challenge. The runs demand you give it your best. Beginners and intermediates will find 100 percent of their terrain is covered with snowmaking.

The town of Taos is 18 miles from Taos Ski Valley. Long a haven for artists, the town has galleries, shops, restaurants and hotels ranging from luxurious to pedestrian.

You may also want to visit nearby Red River and Angel Fire, which both offer excellent and different ski experiences.