Ski Taos Terrain

Ski Taos Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded
  • Open Taos Trail Map
  • Vertical (ft)
    9,200 – 12,481 (3,281)
  • Average Snow Fall
    300 inches
  • Lifts (14)
    4 Quads
    1  Triple
  • Ski Season
    late Nov - early Apr
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 111
    Longest run – 5mi
    Beginner - 15%
    Intermediate - 18%
    Advanced - 30%
    Expert - 37%

Ski Taos New Mexico

Taos Ski Valley has a reputation for lots of steep expert terrain. This is definitely true and many an inexperienced skier has probably freaked out when they’ve stood at the base area and looked up the face of the #1 lift. Taos New Mexico has green and blue runs, but with the exception of the bunny slopes near the kids ski school, the green and blue slopes are more challenging than what you’d find at other ski resorts. Thankfully the black and double black runs are aptly rated.

The Taos ski and snowboard terrain is characterised by lots of steep groomers, many with good fall line, and lots of black bumps runs, some of which are really long. Most of the Taos Ski Resort is below the tree-line with lots of cut piste runs, yet of the 1,294 acres, only a small proportion of this is gladed.

The Taos ski area can be roughly cut into two sides, which are divided by a ridge that runs from the Ski Patrol Headquarters near the top down to the base.

Ski Taos for the Powder Hound

Taos Ski Valley is a phenomenal mountain for powder hounds on two provisos. Firstly, the mountain requires a base of about 70 inches (1.8 metres) for all runs to be open, otherwise lots of the “powder runs” are closed and the tree runs have marginal conditions. Taos New Mexico has an average snowfall of 300 inches per season, but each season is incredibly variable so it’s a bit of a hit and miss affair. The second proviso is that you have to enjoy playing at high altitudes of up to 12,480ft (3,804 metres). For those who live at sea level it’s like sucking air through a straw for the first couple of days. Perhaps don’t put in too much effort until you acclimatise to the altitude!

Taos Ski Resort Lifts

The lift infrastructure at Taos New Mexico is not super fancy but it does the job. There are 14 lifts in total, although there are only 7 lifts that service the main part of the ski area. Lift #1 from the base is a high speed quad chair, whilst the rest of the fleet is made up of a tiny gondola (Gondolita), 3 slow quads, 4 triples, 1 double, and 4 surface lifts.

The only lift queues are during peak periods and these are only at the base area, otherwise they are usually non-existent. Bliss!

The Kachina Peak Lift is a highlight of Taos and a lowlight. It services some amazing expert terrain, but it’s often not open.

Taos Snow

Taos Ski Valley has the capability to cover all the beginner and intermediate runs with artificial snow which is necessary considering that the snowfall can be unreliable, especially early season.

The storms that hit Taos are typically short and drop only a few inches of snow. The powder is characteristically dry thanks to the high elevation and cold temperatures, and the resort is north-facing so the snow quality is well retained.

Ski Taos for the Beginner

The bunny areas near the base are small but ideal for novices. The slopes are very gentle and progress nicely from the magic carpets to the chair lifts. The kids’ learning area is adjacent to the children’s ski school in a separate zone away from experienced skiers and hoons. Unfortunately there is then a large leap from the novice slopes to the steep green runs further up the mountain. Many of the trails are also very long for beginners so they need to be adventurous and energetic, and be prepared to learn quickly. Ski and snowboard lessons at Taos are highly recommended.

Beginners should be careful in the afternoons when riding the White Feather loop as this narrow trail is the main thoroughfare for most skiers returning to the village for après. The trail can be absolute mayhem (or very entertaining)!

Intermediate Ski and Board Terrain

Lower end intermediates will be very happy sticking to the green trails on the upper mountain. Middle-of-the-road intermediates will be very challenged on the blue runs, whilst strong intermediates will have a blast riding the long steep fall line groomers (as will advanced and expert skiers). Some runs are split groomed so Taos is a great place to experiment on bumps and then bail out onto the groomer when you’ve scared yourself enough.

Terrain Park

The terrain park is reasonably small. One side has small beginner jumps and features, whilst the other side has medium sized airs, rails and boxes. There is no longer a quarter pipe at Taos.

Advanced Skiing Taos

The black runs at Taos are not groomed and most of the slopes for advanced skiers are cut runs that are generally covered in bumps. So hopefully you’ve got enough cartilage left in your knees to enjoy the egg carton shaped runs. Al’s run under lift #1 has mega-bumps that can be very challenging especially early in the morning, but it makes for entertaining viewing from the chairlift.

There’s a little bit of tree skiing under lift #2 and the trees to the skiers’ left of #7 including the Walkyries Glade area.

Expert Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Expert skiers are spoiled for choice at Taos, snow conditions permitting.

Along the Highline Ridge the first couple of runs are relatively mild for double blacks, and as these runs only require a short hike, they may be bumped up. As to be expected, the further you hike along the ridge, the higher the likelihood of freshies.

Hiking up and along West Basin Ridge offers great named runs for experts, and there are also some incredibly challenging off-piste lines over or between cliffs if you dare. This is territory for pro skiers and snowboarders, so long as there’s adequate snow. If you don’t want to hike, it is possible to get into part of the West Basin from the high traverse off the top of lift #2.

Kachina Peak has some amazing expert alpine terrain and it is now lift served, when the lift is actually running. Main Street is the “easiest” way down or you can choose other lines including interesting terrain features such as spines and small drop offs.

Taos Backcountry

There is no backcountry access from Taos ski resort, but there are some great backcountry skiing options in the area.