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Let’s start with what Taos Ski Valley isn’t. It isn’t easy to get to; it isn’t an easy place to find a bar open after 9 p.m.; it isn’t easy, period. Readers perennially rank the resort among North America’s top five for challenging terrain (No. 4 this year). What it is? Skiing as you once imagined skiing to be, an “iconic” and demanding hill that improbably and seamlessly brings together New Mexico’s artsy-hippie-green-chile charm with “old-school” Nordic-sweatery Teutonic ski culture. No, Taos Ski Valley doesn’t offer the luxe amenities—four-star restaurants, Prada franchises—designed for those who prefer their ski resorts heavier on the resort than the ski. But for those who come to “ski their butts off,” Taos offers a four-star menu of “relentless steeps,” chutes, glades, and knee-smackin’ bumps, all “guaranteed to get your heart pumping.”
Off-the-Map Trail >> Ernie’s. Hike above Lift 1, drop into North American, and bear right for glade skiing that gets steeper and tighter as you descend.
Après Spot >> The Bavarian Lodge for German beer and leder-hosen. Need we say more?
On-Hill Lunch >> The slopeside deck at the Hotel St. Bernard for excellent eats and a chance to hang with the locals.
Off-Hill Restaurant >> Orlando’s for green chile; Aceq in Arroyo Seco for unassuming French bistro food.
Photo by Justin Fantl