Taos Lifts & 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 (m)
     2,805– 3,602 (797)
  • Average Snow Fall
    7.7  metres
  • Lifts (13)
    4 Quads
    1  Triple
    5 Doubles
  • Ski Hours
    9:00am to 4:00pm
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 110
    Longest run – 8km
    Advanced - 51%
    Intermediate - 25%
    Beginner - 24%
Taos Ski and Snowboard Terrain Taos Ski Valley has a reputation for lots of steep exert 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 #1 lift. There are green and blue runs (24% and 25% respectively), but with the exception of the bunny slope 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 ski 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 ski area is below the tree-line with lots of cut piste runs, yet of the 524 hectares, only a small proportion of this is gladed.

For the Powderhound Taos is a phenomenal mountain for powderhounds 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 has an average snowfall of 7.5 metres 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 hiking at high altitudes of up to 3,804 metres (12,480 feet). Most of the double black terrain is hike-to terrain with walks varying from about 15 to 75 minutes. For those who live at sea level it’s like sucking air through a straw for the first couple of days. Perhaps don’t go hiking until you acclimatise to the altitude!

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

Taos Ski Resort Lifts There are 13 lifts in total, 3 of which are surface lifts. The chair lifts are a mixture of quads, triples and doubles and all are slow fixed grip chairs, but these are adequate to cope with the limited crowds at Taos. The only lift queues are during peak periods and these are only at the base area, otherwise they are non-existent. Bliss!

Snow and Weather Conditions Taos 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.

For the Beginner The bunny area near the base is small but ideal for first timers. The slopes are very gentle and progress nicely from the magic carpets to the chair lifts. 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 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.

For the Kids The learning area is adjacent to the children’s ski school in a separate zone away from the experienced skiers and hoons. The only limitation with the area is that it’s a short walk or skate to get back to the main base.

Once kids have mastered the basics they’ll have to hit the steep green slopes up the mountain. Hopefully they’re young enough not to have developed a sense of fear!

Parks & Pipes and Race Course The Out to Launch Terrain Park is a reasonably new addition to Taos. It’s only a small park with a couple of jumps, a hip, a few rails, and a quarter pipe depending upon the amount of snow.

Taos has a NASTAR race course with coin operated racing for a $1 a turn. It’s open 10am-3pm Wednesday to Sunday.

Advanced Skiing None of the black runs at Taos are 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 so long as they’re happy to hike, and so long as the snow conditions permit. The hiking is off lift #2 either to lookers’ left along Highline Ridge or to the right along West Basin Ridge.

Along the Highline Ridge the first couple of runs are relatively mild, but 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. The furthest hike is to Kachina Peak which offers open bowl skiing with interesting terrain features including spines and small drop offs.

West Basin Ridge has great named runs for experts, and there are also some incredibly challenging lines over or between cliffs if you dare.

If hiking is not your thing, take the high traverse to access the lower parts of the runs off West Basin Ridge. There are also double black tree runs including Castor and the Lorelei Trees.