2014 / 2015 Opening Day in the Taos Ski Valley

The 2014 opening day in the Taos Ski Valley is quickly approaching! November 27th , Thanksgiving Day, will mark the beginning of the 2014/2015 Taos ski season.  Because of the change of ownership and the impressive amount of changes and renovations that have been taking place, the opening day at Taos Ski Valley is sure to be a day worth remembering. Avid skiers, local Taos residents, and vacationers from all over will join together at the end of November to celebrate the start of another winter and another exciting skiing season.

Taos Ski Valley is home to incredible slopes, a myriad of winter sports and outdoor activities, high-class resorts and lodging, various family-friendly activities, a bustling nightlife, incredible dining opportunities, historical and cultural exhibits and museums, luxurious spas and fitness centers, and endless shopping.

Enjoy our Out-to-Launch Terrain Park and practice grabbing some air on various jumps, rollers, boxes, and rails. If you’re not one for skiing or snowboarding, check out our other winter activities, including snowshoeing, tubing, and snowmobiling. As of this year, you can also take a lift up to the beautiful Kachina Peak, the 12,481-foot view that is sure to take your breath away.

After a full day of skiing, snowboarding, and adventuring throughout Taos Ski Valley, check out one of the local restaurants for après ski. The traditional way of winding down after a long day on the slopes includes food, drinks, and friends while relaxing in a beautiful atmosphere. Thankfully, there are several incredible options to choose from when planning your après ski in the Taos Ski Valley.

In the Taos Ski Valley village, you’ll find the Strawberry Hill slopes, which are home to the Edelweiss Lodge & Spa. The Edelweiss boasts a ski-in/ski-out venue, complete with vacation condominiums and hotel rooms, boot lockers, complimentary ski valet service, underground parking, a gym, a sauna, an outdoor hot tub, game rooms, and some of the best dining in all of New Mexico. After a day full of fun activities in Taos Ski Valley, stop in for après ski at the Blonde Bear Tavern, located in the heart of the Edelweiss Lodge & Spa. You can kick back at the end of the day with après ski, and you can ski in and ski out throughout the day, enjoying a spread of European alpine cuisine, fine wines, and delicious cocktails. If you’re looking for something a little sweeter, the Blonde Bear Tavern proudly serves the best hot chocolate, which you can enjoy while relaxing by the fire or having fun in the nearby game room. For a heartier option at the Blonde Bear, try the down home chicken pot pie, expertly crafted and served in the warm and sophisticated environment in the heart of Taos Ski Valley. The Blonde Bear Tavern also boasts by far the best burgers around, which are sure to satisfy after a long day out on the slopes.

Regardless of when you’re visiting the Taos Ski Valley—on opening day or not—be sure to check out New Mexico’s favorite place to enjoy après ski, the Blonde Bear Tavern.

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What’s new in the Taos Ski Valley?

The Taos Ski Valley

Whats new in 2014

With many changes being made around Taos Ski Valley, it can be hard to keep up and know exactly what to expect from your favorite vacation spot. Here are some changes that have already happened and some to look out for in the near future.

The Bavarian Lodge & Restaurant

On September 3, 2014, a press release confirmed that Taos Ski Valley, Inc. will purchase the Bavarian Lodge & Restaurant. Thomas Schulze built the Bavarian, which is located on the backside of the mountain, and it opened in 1996. Thomas and his wife Jamie have owned and operated the Bavarian since its opening, and they have stated that they will continue to run operations at the hotel and restaurant after the ownership has been transferred. Both parties involved are excited about the deal, and Taos Ski Valley, Inc. has assured the Schulze family that they will maintain the European charm and the unique personality that is found in the Bavarian. Both parties are committed to keeping the Bavarian a cherished and enjoyable destination for years to come as it continues to serve visitors from all over the world.

New Lift to Kachina Peak

Possibly the most exciting change that visitors will enjoy at Taos Ski Valley this year is the staging equipment for the new chair lift to Kachina Peakchairlift up to Kachina Peak. The 12,481-foot peak boasts some of the best skiing in the entire TSV and, before this year, it was only accessible via a 45-minute hike up the side of the mountain. The breathtaking view at the top of Kachina Peak includes the Spanish Peaks, the Taos Plateau, and Wheeler Mountain, the highest mountain in New Mexico. Skiiers and snowboarders willing to make the trek by foot were rewarded with the incredible scenery, an amazing slope, and very few other people.

The Kachina Peak chairlift installation is a big step for the new owner, Louis Bacon, as he plans to improve upon and grow the Taos Ski Valley in a big way. Several construction plans are being put into place to help the TSV realize its full potential, and to help conserve and make the most of its natural environment. In addition to the Kachina Peak chairlift installation, Bacon has set in motion a new base area, and new hike-to terrain area, and a large improvement in snowmaking, all set to begin affecting change this year.

Hike-To Terrain

The majority of Highline Ridge and West Basin Ridge will be accessible only by foot as in years past. However, a new hike-to terrain area is being added this year. It is called The Wild West Glades, and it is 35 acres of tree skiing and is accessible from the West Basin Ridge.

Base Area

While the complete base area renovation will not be completed for a few years, a few small changes are taking place now to prepare for the end result. The drop-off area will now be at the west end of Thunderbird Road, and for the next two years, skiers will still have a staircase standing between them and the lifts.

Snow-Making

As climate changes are making snowy winters more unpredictable, Taos Ski Valley is a step ahead in establishing itself as a leader among ski resorts in the US. While the amount of snow and water used will not change, the process of getting it on the mountains will be shorter, which will lead to snow being on the mountains sooner than in previous years. As TSV looks forward to its opening day in November, all its visitors will surely enjoy and appreciate all the changes being made for the betterment of Taos Ski Valley.

Of course, some things will remain the same like the comfort and convenience of the ski in /ski out vacation condos at the Edelweiss Lodge and the home-style food of the Blonde Bear Tavern.  See you at Après-ski.

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Awesome Ski Vacation Spots Close to Oklahoma City or Tulsa

If the coming winter in Taos Ski Valley is anything like the current summer, it’s going to be a snowy one. El Niño prognosticators say New Mexico will have a great ski season. They have not said the same about Oklahoma.

If you live in Oklahoma, Taos Ski Valley is the quickest trip to world class skiing. It’s less than a 9-hour drive from Oklahoma City and barely ten from Tulsa. There are a few route options, but taking I-40 straight west to Albuquerque is the only route that adds any considerable amount of time to the trip. The shortest route is via OK 152 East to TX 152E to US 87 South to US 412 to NM 21 South.

All but the Albuquerque route take you into the Cimarron Canyon, past Lake Eagle Nest, over the Palo Flechado Pass and down into the town of Taos. It’s by far the most scenic and beautiful way to arrive.

Taos Ski Valley was sold last season and the new owner is spending lots of money upgrading facilities, adding more summer activities and building a lift to the top of Kachina Peak. The new chairlift’s ride to 12,450 feet raises the resort’s lift-accessed vertical drop to 3,250 feet. It will also make it easy to experience the magic of Kachina Peak without the hour or longer hike.

If you want to stay close to all the action the ski in / ski out vacation condos at the Edelweiss Lodge and Spa are perfect for singles, couples, groups or families. Book early as the slope side locations fill up fast!

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Taos Ski Valley Winter Adventure Vacations

It may still be August, but excitement for ski season at Taos Ski Valley is at an unusual high this year. Fueling that excitement is the money new owner Louis Bacon has put into upgrades on the mountain, the biggest being the new chairlift to the top of Kachina Peak.

winter adventure vacations - Taos Ski valleyTaos Ski Valley has always been known for its steep chutes, glades and hike-to areas. None of that has changed, but every skier or boarder will notice the coming improvements to amenities, access and new runs.

A project that will help ski conditions all over the mountain is the work being done to the snowmaking systems. New, better equipment will give Taos Ski Valley better coverage and snow quality than ever before.

The tubing area on Strawberry Hill saw some improvements last season and the resort is committed to making tubing an even better experience for everyone this season.

More and more people have been taking advantage of the other winter adventure activities located near Taos Ski Valley. High mountain snowmobile tours are popular. The trails surrounding Taos Ski Valley are some of the most spectacular you will find anywhere, with some mountain views you can’t get from the ski area.

A lot of those trails and some trails snowmobiles can’t access are open for snowshoeing. There are easy trails and trails as challenging as you’ll find anywhere. The trail to Williams Lake and the base of Wheeler Peak starts and finishes near the Bavarian Restaurant, so beer and catching some winter rays on the deck make a nice end to the adventure.

Edelweiss Lodge and Spa - Taos Ski Valley Vacation CondosFor trails like Bull of the Woods and the trails at Northside at Taos Ski Valley that originate near the Taos Ski Valley base area, The Brown Bear Tavern at the Edelweiss Lodge and Spa is a great place to refuel, relax and recover.

Snowshoe rentals are available at local ski shops.

http://ridenorthside.com/snowshoe-tours.htm

http://bigaltsv.com/snowmobile.php

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Comin’ Down in Taos Ski Valley

The timetable for redevelopment plans in Taos Ski Valley still has many holes, but one thing is certain: buildings are coming down. The ticket windows and the locker room above them were torn down in June. The ticket windows are being relocated to their own space in Taos Ski and Boot. There’s no news on where the lockers will be relocated, which has some locker-holders nervous.

The Thunderbird Chalet is now gone. The space where it sat since the 1960’s is now a hole in the ground. Sadly, with the demolition of the Thunderbird Lodge a few years ago, there’s not much left of its legacy.

The best way to stay up to date on all the progress is to go up and see for yourself. While you’re up there, go for a hike or ride a bike, chair or horse. Café Naranja, located in the Edelweiss Lodge and Spa, is great for getting read for a day. It’s open for breakfast and lunch Friday through Monday. Time lapse video of the goings-on in the base area taken from the top of the Edelweiss is on the Edelweiss Lodge and Spa Facebook page.

The images below were taken Friday, July 11.

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Taos’ Natural Wonders

No matter what time of year you visit Taos, the area’s natural wonders are captivating. Often, just looking is enough. But in the warm summer months, those natural wonders become playgrounds.

Sitting above all of them, literally, is Wheeler Peak, New Mexico’s tallest mountain. The 13,167-foot peak, which was known as Taos Peak until 1950, looms over Williams Lake and is accessible via three common routes, all of them starting within a couple of miles from the Taos Ski Valley base area. For years the most popular hiking route to the top of Wheeler was the Bull of the Woods trail that starts from the Taos Ski Valley parking lot. It’s a longer, gentler approach than the scree field that rises straight to the top of Wheeler Peak from Williams Lake. In 2011, the U.S. Forest Service built a trail of switchbacks that is the most direct and efficient way up. It starts near the end of the Williams Lake trail.

If you plan a trip to Wheeler Peak, start early in order to beat the afternoon’s protean weather. Keep an eye out for marmots, golden eagles and bighorn sheep.

The Rio Grande del Norte National Monument was established in March 2013. The distinction may be new, but the 800-foot-deep gorge created by the Rio Grande has been used by humans since prehistoric times. One of the best spots to get a spectacular view of the rugged 242,500 acres is at the La Junta Point Overlook in the Wild Rivers Recreation area near the town of Questa. Directly below is the confluence of the Rio Grande and the Red River and there are trails down to the canyon floor. Some of the best fly fishing in the state is along the final section of the Red River.

The South Boundary Trail, which connects Black Lake (near Angel Fire) with Taos, is considered by many to be the premiere mountain bike trail in the state. The South Boundary is 20-plus miles of single track through aspen forests and meadows that rise and drop over 3,500 feet. But the trail isn’t just for a long slog on a bike. In the middle is Garcia Park, which can be reached by car and makes a good meeting point or starting point for shorter rides and hikes. Camping is allowed.

The snow on the South Boundary has melted by June and the forests are green and lush. With its changing colors, Autumn is a great time to hit the trail.

Taos South Boundary Trail

A section of Taos' South Boundary Trail.

For many visitors—the ones arriving from the south—Taos’ natural wonder is the first thing they see. The view from the Taos Valley Overlook sweeps from the San Juan Mountains to the west, across the Rio Grande Gorge to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The first impression made by this jaw-dropping panorama has been turning tourists into Taoseños for a very long time.

The Bureau of Land Management maintains a network of 10 hiking and biking trails just past the overlook that are relatively easy and flat and are a great way to put yourself in the tableau.

Taos Valley Overlook/Rio Grande Gorge

The Rio Grande Gorges as seen from the Taos Valley Overlook. Photo courtesy Taos Land Trust.

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From Kachina Peak to the Wild West at Taos Ski Valley

The Kachina Peak Lift at Taos Ski Valley has been a hot button issue since its inception. Like it or hate it, the lift is going up now. The three-person lift will rise 1,100 vertical feet in five minutes, topping out at 12,450 feet and making it one of the highest lifts in North America. Taos Ski Valley says it is committed to preserving a majority of its hiking terrain, and opening more. The Wild West Glades are 35 acres of expert terrain starting past Wonder Bowl on the West Basin Ridge. The plan is to have the Wild West open for the 2014-2015 season.

It won’t affect the West Basin, but TSV is also replacing a couple of its snowmaking air compressors. The upgrades will extend the reach of snowmaking and help get more terrain open earlier while cutting energy usage significantly.

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New Bike Trails at Taos Ski Valley

On Saturday, June 28th, Taos Ski Valley is cutting the ropes on its new Pioneer’s Bike Park, which has a number of lift-accessed novice bike trails. For more experienced riders, try the new Berminator flow trail from the top of lift one. The Berminator has berm turns, table tops, step-ups, hip jumps and rock drops. There is a full-service bike shop on site and Taos Ski Valley rents top of the line bikes and gear.

Opening festivities start at 10:00. More info here.

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Hiking In The Taos Ski Valley – Play It Safe

With Ski Season 2014 wrapped up our minds and bodies are turning to long hikes and backpacking adventures in the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains.  There are plenty of great trails in and around the Taos Ski Valley and the Edelweiss Lodge and Spa offers easy access to some of the best including Wheeler Peak, Gavilan, and, for the less adventuresome,  Bull of the Woods Pasture.

It is recommended to begin your hikes early with the intent of coming down off the mountains before mid day as the winds can get quite strong and there is a high likelihood of afternoon storms.

Other things to consider include the health/fitness of the members of your party and what to bring along on your outdoor adventure.  For longer hikes be sure you have the 10 essentials in your pack.  We have compiled a list for you with links to some local shops that carry the items you need.

Practical Tools

Navigation

Taos Mountain Outfitters has a good supply of topographical maps of local trails as well as compasses* and other back country essentials.  For long hikes it is always a good idea to carry both a map and a compass in the event that you lose the trail or your bearings.

*Learn how to use your compass before you take to the trail.

Illumination

If your hike goes into the evening, you’ll want to have some illumination. Headlamps and/or flashlights (available at Mudd n’ Flood) are critical if you plan to be on the trail after dark.  They not only illuminate the markers and obstacles on the trail but they can alert you to other dangers such as wildlife as well.   It is a good idea to bring extra batteries along.  Matches (in a waterproof case) or a lighter are lightweight items that can prove lifesaving if you find yourself toughing it out through the evening.

Repair Kit and Tools

No backpacking trip would be complete without a pocket knife or a multi-tool.  A good knife is helpful for cutting string, shaving wood for tinder, and clearing the way through small branches, among a host of other things.  If you’ll be bringing along items like a stove or a radio, it’s not a bad idea to have a gear repair kit with you.

Protection

Sun Protection

Always apply sunscreen before you head outside, even when you’re going into the woods.  If you’ll be under the open sky in direct sunlight, it’s also smart to apply lip balm and be sure to protect your eyes with a good pair of sunglasses!  For long hikes bring the sunscreen with you and reapply every couple hours.

Insulation

Whatever the weather, be sure to be properly dressed.  Sports clothing is designed to be light weight and provide you with a level of insulation.  Always bring a good waterproof jacket or vest, and wear pants, gloves, and a hat.

Bug Protection

The woods are full of insects.  Most of them are fairly harmless but, a nuisance none the less.  Applying bug repellent to your clothing can help keep the pesky little bugs at bay.  For a natural repellent try Taos Herb’s Bug Me Not Spray.

Emergencies

Never forget to bring a first aid kit on your backpacking trip.  Timely first aid can prevent minor incidents like bites and scrapes from becoming bigger emergencies.  For situations of extreme cold or when a thunderstorm hits, you’ll want to have emergency shelter, like a tarp, tube tent, or thermal blanket.   It never hurts to have extra moleskin along as well.

Health

Nutrition

As a precaution it is a good idea to bring an extra day’s supply of food on your hike, in case you lose your way or need to wait out a storm.  Backpacker food supplies like freeze-dried pasta, wild rice, lentils, and granola are light weight and will help keep your body going.

Hydration

Staying hydrated is probably the most important thing you can do on a backpacking trip.  For shorter outings, you might just need water bottles.  For a longer day, you’ll want a hydration pack.  If you run out of water, filtration devices make water from streams safer to drink.

Take to the hills this summer but, remember to play it safe.

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Taos Mountain Retreats – Spring and Summer

As ski season winds down our minds turn to other ways to enjoy the beauty of Taos. Some of us will head into the hills with our snowshoes in tow, some will take to the long windy Taos Ski Valley road on bikes, others will head to the rocks for a day of climbing on the north facing walls (where the heat of the sun keeps your hands and bodies warm even as the last of the winter winds pass by) and some will travel to the lowlands to hike into the hills.

The adventure does not stop just because the slopes close. With thousands of acres of National Forest on all sides Taos is a Mecca for outdoor enthusiasts year round. Some areas may be hard to reach until the snow-melt is complete but, the challenge of getting there adds to the adventure.

Once the snow has melted, things really pick up. Horseback riding or llama trekking to Gold Hill are both worthwhile excursions. As are river rafting the Rio Grande, mountain climbing along the Gorge, hot air balloon rides at dawn, and mountain biking the numerous trails in the Taos Ski Valley and around town. For the treasure hunter, scouting for the hidden treasure of the renowned Forest Fenn on the trails around the TSV could lead to the proverbial “pot of gold”. At the very least you will find a plethora of arbor glyphs which give a glimpse of the remarkable history of the area.

By July, you can add wild-crafting herbs and harvesting mushrooms to the list of activities available in the Taos Ski Valley.

Any way you slice it, the Taos Ski Valley is a year round destination. If you are looking for a perfect place to escape the dog days of summer consider a late summer stay at the Edelweiss Lodge and Spa – the perfect mountain getaway. They will even help you design a custom vacation package to help ensure you make the most of your stay.

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