Change has come to Taos Ski Valley. In 2013, hedge-fund billionaire Louis Bacon bought the family-run ski area from the descendants of founder Ernie Blake, with a plan to invest substantial resources into modernizing Taos. A chairlift up the iconic, hikers-only Kachina Peak arrived the next year, followed by a redesigned base area and the opening of The Blake, a new luxury hotel at the resort’s base. Those upgrades were much needed, and so far, visitors are impressed, rewarding the ski area with high marks in Overall Satisfaction, Charm, Value, and Local Flavor.
Indeed, the new ownership seems determined to maintain the resort’s unique Old-World-meets-New-Mexico vibe while it puts new sheen on some old veneers. The small resort also goes big in the Challenge department, boasting 74 black or double-black runs (not counting all the sweet lines in between), which include a phenomenal diversity of patrolled, hikers-only tree- and chute-skiing. Taos is one of those rare, special spots where phenomenal skiing intersects brilliantly with the sport’s European heritage, and injected, this year, with the buzz of American entrepreneurship. - Hannah Nordhaus
This season, a brand new high-speed quad—the resort’s first express lift—will replace Chairs 1 and 5, flying directly up Al’s Run and cutting ride times to under five minutes.
COME FOR THE...
CHALLENGE There’s so much of it. Taos is known for its uninterrupted fall-line skiing. May we suggest: the tight trees on North American; Pierre’s, a super-narrow chute; and Stauffenberg, a hike-to area in West Ridge Basin, for scare-yourself steeps.
CHARM Do visit the historic town of Taos, 18 miles from the ski hill, packed with art galleries, cafes, and shops, plus the UNESCO Taos Pueblo site.
ON-MOUNTAIN EATS The beloved Bavarian Lodge sports a new, larger deck on which to snack on ripped-from-Bavaria bratwurst and huge mugs of German beer.