Perched fewer than 20 miles northeast of Taos, the alpine village and ski area of Taos Ski Valley feels a world away. It’s set high—between 9,200 and more than 12,000 feet—in the mountains amid towering pines and lush green meadows that are dappled with the purple, red, and yellow of summer wildflowers. It’s close enough to Taos to enjoy its culture, but Taos Ski Valley has a vibe all its own: It’s a place to disconnect and truly escape. And in the offseason, which runs after the ski slopes close, you’ll get an authentic local flavor.
Ready for a summer getaway? We’ve got you covered with the best places to explore, eat, drink, and stay in Taos Ski Valley.
If the mountains are calling, Taos Ski Valley is the answer. The village is nestled in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, the southernmost range of the Rocky Mountains. Wheeler Peak is the state’s highest, topping out at 13,161 feet, and presiding over sister crests including Replica, Gold Hill, and Lobo. Summiting Wheeler is a worthy day hike, and it’s easily accessible from Taos Ski Valley via an eight-mile round trip. For a less rigorous adventure, pack a picnic and head to the shores of Williams Lake. The lake’s glistening waters are about a two-mile hike from the trailhead, and it’s a popular destination in its own right. For more hikes in and around Taos, go to TaosSkiValley.com. Check for forest closures and hiking conditions before you go.
If you’d rather harness more horsepower—literally—for your adventure, several area outfitters, including Wilderness Adventures and Rio Grande Stables, offer guided trail rides through the high country.
Anglers have plenty of terrain to enjoy, too, from alpine lakes to the rushing waters of the Rio Grande and Red rivers, both of which are easy drives from the village. Cutthroat Fly Fishing, Solitary Angler, and Bootdoctors are go-to guide services ready to help you hook impressive trout. (Even those who don’t fish can enjoy a local favorite for dinner—green chile pecan-crusted trout.)
After all of that outdoorsy action, you may be ready to relax (and ease those sore muscles). In Taos Ski Valley, the newest player on the wellness scene is the gorgeous on-site spa at The Blake, where services are based on the four elements (fire, earth, air, and water). A short drive away in Taos, Taos Sage Waters Massage & Spa, is known for its excellent massages. You can also opt for the Living Spa at El Monte Sagrado Resort and Spa, where practitioners draw upon local Native-American wisdom and global healing treatments to rejuvenate guests.
Lastly, after a quick road trip, ease into the waters of Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa. Marking its 150th anniversary in 2018, it’s one of the oldest health resorts in the U.S., known for the variety of minerals in its soaking pools.
For a town with a permanent population of fewer than 150 people, Taos Ski Valley has an outsized number of dining options.
Start your day at Black Diamond Espresso, whose tongue-in-cheek tagline as “The fastest lift at Taos Ski Valley” delivers on its promise, whether it’s ski season or not. Another local favorite, Cafe Naranja, has a beautiful outdoor courtyard surrounded by aspens. You can enjoy the cooler temps of summer, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and breakfast croissants. For a grab-and-go lunch, hit up Bumps Market & Burrito Bar or the Pizza Shack, located just steps from hiker parking.
For a more upscale experience, The Blake’s on-site restaurant, 192, is a hands-down winner. The refined-but-casual spot, whose decor is anchored by local artwork, has created a strong following for share-friendly plates like flatbreads and pizzas topped with handmade mozzarella; craft cocktails and seasonal beers are also on tap.
In the art-centric town of Arroyo Seco, about an eight-mile drive from Taos Ski Valley, one standout spot is Aceq, which specializes in locally sourced comfort food. Its chevre-topped burger, featuring locally raised beef, is excellent. Weekend brunch is a worthy option, too: Its chicken-and-waffles plate is a star menu item.
A little further down Route 150 toward the town of Taos, Medley serves modern bistro cuisine, from small plates of grilled avocado to mains like rainbow trout. It also has a stand-out wine shop to stock up for your visit. Next door, Common Fire, dishes up a unique dining experience with its chalkboard menu and communal tables.
For an après-hike pint or cocktail in the village, look no further than the Stray Dog Cantina, where the beer is cold and the margaritas offer the perfect antidote to a warm summer day. The “Dog’s” deck over the Arroyo Hondo stream is a wonderful place to enjoy a drink. A little further afield is Pizaños, another local favorite on Route 150 that specializes in pizza. With views of Taos Mountain, its patio offers an enticing spot for late-afternoon libations and snacks.
In the town of Taos, the Anaconda Bar at El Monte Sagrado—you’ll understand the name when you see the glittering, slithering snake sculpture over the bar—mixes upscale cocktails that set the stage for dinner at De La Tierra. Doc Martin’s Adobe Bar at the Taos Inn is the town’s watering hole and its top spot for free live music, nightly, so you’re sure to rub elbows with a few locals while sipping tequila and enjoying tunes from danceable big-band favorites to folk/Americana to Afro-Cuban beats.
“There are 10 ‘Legendary Margaritas’ at the Adobe Bar, but El Chupacabra (pepper-infused Sauza Blue Silver, Triple Sec, sweet-and-sour, hand-squeezed lime juice with a salt-and-pepper rim) is my favorite to sip while I’m listening to the blues sung and played by Jackson Price & the Blues Rockets,” confides one local.
From hotels to condos as well as bed and breakfasts or vacation rentals, Taos Ski Valley offers a range of lodging options to fit your needs. Opened in spring 2017, The Blake is the village’s newest hotel. The modern, eco-friendly alpine retreat sits slopeside, in the center of town, so you can be off the trails and relaxing in the spa within minutes. Longtime favorite The Edelweiss Lodge & Spa prides itself on its luxury accommodations and amenities, like a game room and lounge. (During winter, it offers ski in-ski out access, which means great mountain views year-round.)
Snakedance Condominiums offers the comforts of home with a touch of the old-world feel. With its adjoining rooms, Powderhorn Suites & Condominiums is a good choice for couples, families, or small groups, with cozy digs and bright, eclectic décor. No matter where you stay, you’ll wake refreshed and ready to dive into another day of exploring this mountain getaway.
To see every possible lodging option, visit TaosSkiValley.com. From there, you can send a Trip Inquiry to all available properties and receive a response directly from each about its best rate, as well as discover other inspiration for an unforgettable trip to Taos Ski Valley.
Written by Ashley M. Biggers for RootsRated Media in partnership with Taos Ski Valley Chamber of Commerce.