Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico is a popular destination for skiers and snowboarders. As part of a series on ski resorts, Huffington Post Travel offers our guide to Taos Ski Valley, featuring all the key information snow lovers need to know before they hit the slopes.
The BasicsTaos Ski Valley, located in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, lies a little more than two hours north of Albuquerque near the Colorado border and 15 minutes northeast of Taos. Taos Ski Valley features 1,294 total acres of terrain, and its impressive steeps and hike-to terrain near the top of Kachina Peak are perfect challenges for expert thrill-seekers. Taos Ski Valley allowed only skiers until 2008, when it opened its doors to snowboarders.
The MountainThe 12,481-foot-tall Kachina Peak features a vertical drop of 2,612 feet by lift or 3,274 feet by hike. The regular season at Taos Ski Valley runs from late November through early April with an average annual snowfall of 305 inches and more than 300 days of sunshine each year. To make up for snowless days, the resort has snowmaking capabilities on 100 percent of its beginner and intermediate terrain. The mountain serves as home to some of the best extreme skiing experiences in the country, but there is terrain to challenge skiers of every ability level as Taos Ski Valley features one of the country's best ski schools.
Trails And LiftsTaos Ski Valley includes 110 trails -- 24 percent dedicated to beginners, 25 percent for intermediates and 51 percent for experts. Al's Run, one of the most famous trails on the slope, gives expert skiers a run straight down the front of the mountain and lands them at the resort. The mountain also is home to a terrain park that is groomed nightly. Thirteen lifts shuttle skiers up the mountain. There are four quad chair lifts, one triple lift, five double lifts and three surface lifts for a total uphill capacity of more than 15,000 skiers per hour.
In The NewsTaos Ski Valley hosts the annual Salomon Extreme Freeride Championships, a Freeride World Tour qualifying event that draws some of the best extreme skiers and snowboarders around. Originally opened by a Swiss-German immigrant, Taos Ski Valley sticks close to its roots -- the children and grandchildren of the original founder still operate the resort. The Taos Winter Sports Team runs a U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association training program, where young athletes compete in regional Alpine and freeride competitions.
CostFull-day lift tickets range from $45 for children ages 7 to 12 to $75 for adults 18 and older. Half-day, beginner-hill-only, early-season and late-season lift tickets are available at discounted prices. Seniors 80 and older and children 6 and younger ski free. Season passes range from $125 for seniors 70 and older to $999 for adults. Taos Ski Valley offers all-inclusive ski and snowboard rental packages starting at $30. Helmets are available for rent for an additional $10. Performance, high-performance and demo rentals range from $41 to $50. Group and private lessons start at $51 for anyone older than 3.
Apres-SkiHungry or thirsty skiers need not drive into Taos for dining opportunities. The Whistlestop Cafe and the Phoenix Grill offer a place to warm up and grab some food without leaving the slope. After a long day on the trails, skiers and boarders alike can flock to the Martini Tree Bar for a warming libation or game of pool. The Bavarian Lodge & Restaurant, at the base of Kachina Peak at the backside of the mountain, has the atmosphere of an Alpine ski village with a menu of hearty German specialties.
WATCH: Taos Ski Valley
A skier conquers Taos Ski Valley's West Basin Ridge.