Hailed for its steep terrain, this New Mexico resort still delivers family-friendly options with Southwestern flair.
Skiing and snowboarding in New Mexico? Yes!
If you’re tired of feeling like one in a sea of a million skiers and snowboarders, then head to Taos Ski Valley. You’ll find shorter lift lines, authentic Mexican food, and caring employees who take the time to make your family’s trip their top priority. And Taos boasts the best of both worlds - about 300 inches of snowfall a year paired with about 300 days of golden sunshine!
What to do on the slopes?
Taos Ski Valley has a rich history of challenging skiers with its steep terrain. From its founding in 1955, Taos has been a haven for intermediate and advanced skiers; more than half of its runs are marked intermediate or expert. But beginners, don’t fret! There are still runs on the more than 1,200 skiable acres where you can practice and work up to the harder stuff. Lift ticket cost: Youth: $65; Adult $105.
Because of its unique terrain, Taos offers specialized lessons to make sure that you get the most out of the mountain. Aside from the typical group and private full- and half-day lessons, Taos also offers its Snowsports Week - 2 hours of lessons for six consecutive mornings. It’s a great way to familiarize yourself with the mountain with the same group but still have time to explore by yourself. Rates start at $220/week. Want even more personalized service? Check out the weeks that are specifically designed for teens, women, and telemark skiers. Group lesson cost: $75 for a half day.
Kids have their own separate area to learn, including their own terrain, smaller lifts, and lunch and play areas. The cheery, newly-renovated Children’s Center is a kid’s dream come true! From the moment you arrive in the building, your kids will be entertained. Next to the check-in desk is a dedicated kids’ corner, complete with a climbing wall, slack line, slide, and toys. It’s genius - no more bored kids waiting for parents to register! Inside, Taos Ski Valley offers ski lessons for kids (ages 3-15) and daycare for babies as young as 2 months. The kids’ program focuses on terrain-based learning which means your kids will be able to learn balance and movement, all while having fun! My daughter was looking like a pro after only two days of lessons, and I could hear her giggling from the bottom of the mountain! Lessons: Half day $150; Full day $185. Daycare: Half day $100; Full Day $130.
What to do off the slopes?
Need break from skiing or boarding? No problem! Enjoy the fresh air with a snowshoe hike to Williams Lake. (We were lacking a bit of snow during our trip, so we did the hike in sneakers.) The trailhead is near the base of Lift 4; it’s about 4 miles roundtrip. The beginning is a little uphill, but then it evens out and winds through the forest before ending at the lake. The hike is peaceful with spectacular views and completely manageable for kids.
I took a little “me time” and headed to The Spa and Wellness Center at The Blake, offering traditional techniques designed to balance your body and soul. If you have to pick just one treatment, go for the aromatherapy massage. It’s specially created just for you. Simply input your areas of concern in a computer and out comes a customized, essential oil blend (and you can take home any leftovers). The spa also offers facials, body wraps, body scrubs, waxing, and specialty massages.
In the town of Taos, don’t miss the historic Taos Plaza. There you'll find local shops filled with New Mexican treasures - everything from handmade jewelry to exquisitely crafted pottery that’s truly one of a kind. You’ll also discover art galleries, locally-owned restaurants, and an occasional outdoor concert. The best part about the Taos Plaza? It isn’t inundated with tourists. The area is truly a gathering place for locals, too.
New Mexico is rich in history, most notably the Taos Pueblo. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the 99,000-acre Pueblo is home to the Tiwa-speaking Native American tribe of the Puebloan people. All of the buildings were built out of adobe nearly 1,000 years ago. It’s considered one of the oldest communities in the United States and about 150 people live there today. You’re able to tour the Pueblo during visiting hours, but be sure to check the website because some events do close the Pueblo to the public. On the tour, you’ll learn about its place in Native American history and how it operates today (no electricity or running water). The San Geronimo Chapel is exquisite. There are shops inside the Pueblo, offering handmade pottery, jewelry, and art. Cost: Youth (10 & under) Free; Students $14; Adult $16.
KidTripster Tip: You’ll definitely want to take pictures of this historical landmark, but be sure to read all the rules beforehand. Pictures inside the San Geronimo Chapel are not allowed; photos of tribal members are not allowed without permission.
KidTripster Tip: If you visit Taos during the off-season or happen to come on a winter weekend without a lot of snow, check out the nearby mountain biking trails.
Photo courtesy: Visit Taos
Where to eat?
My advice? Come hungry for some Mexican food! Taos is a mecca for New Mexican delights, both at the resort and in town.
At the base, head to Tim’s Stray Dog Cantina (105 Sutton Place), a low-key, high-flavor joint that serves up green or red chilis on just about everything. Take in the true New Mexican experience by ordering the Frito Pie, a meal that you’ll find on most menus around town. Think nachos but with Fritos. Delicious!
Or head over to Pizza Shack (6 Thunderbird Rd.) for green chilis on your pizza (noticing a theme?). It serves up hefty slices for lunch and full pies for dinner. It offers huge salads, pasta, and subs, too. Plus, the restaurant will deliver for free within the village, if you prefer a night in.
On the mountain, take in the sights at the Bavarian Restaurant. At the base of Lift 4, this authentic, German restaurant comes complete with servers in costume and stuffed wildlife inside a historic cabin. Don’t leave here without eating a Bavarian pretzel. I wanted an endless supply but needed to save room for the restaurant’s other goodness, like Wienerschnitzel or burgers and salads, if you prefer more traditional American fare. My only regret in visiting this place was that we didn’t go on a Tuesday for fondue night. We’ll be back!
KidTripster Tip: There’s no prettier place to be on a bluebird day than outside on the Bavarian Restaurant deck. It’s large enough for kids to play freely, and you’ll enjoy authentic German beer while staring at the beautiful mountain peaks only Taos can deliver.
For a sweet treat off the mountain, make a beeline for Molly’s Crêpe Escape (8 Thunderbird Rd.) in the Taos Ski Valley Village. I took my 3-year-old daughter here to celebrate a successful day at ski school, and we were (jokingly) fighting over our Nutella-filled crêpe. On our next trip, we’ll treat our bellies to the chocolate banana one. You also can get lunch here with heartier crêpe options, like ham and swiss or chicken and pesto.
In town, your number one stop should be Orlando’s New Mexican Cafe (1114 Don Juan Valdez Ln.). It has classic Mexican dishes plus housemade margaritas and an extensive kids’ menu that even includes smaller portions for the five and under crowd. My daughter downed her cheese quesadilla in record time! Plus, the service is fast, which means less time with potentially grumpy, hungry kids!
Photo courtesy: Orlando's New Mexican Cafe
Where to stay?
You can either stay in the Taos Ski Valley Village or in the town of Taos. Staying in the village gives you the convenience of ski-in/ski-out options, but it’ll cost you. The town of Taos is a good 30-minute drive, but the effort will save you some cash.
In the village, I’d recommend The Blake (116 Sutton Place) for a pampered, hassle-free, and personalized stay. The newest addition to the base area, The Blake opened its 80 rooms in 2017 and embodies New Mexico’s heritage with local art on every floor, plus pictures of Taos’ founders - the Blake family. You’ll feel like you’re in someone’s welcoming home.
The ease of the hotel is what we loved most, especially when trying to juggle a toddler and all our gear. From the moment that we pulled up, everything literally was taken care of. Our car and skis were valeted. Ski boots sit on warmers overnight, so you slip into toasty boots in the morning. While you’re getting those on, the staff brings your skis outside. Walk a few steps to the lift, and you’re on the slopes in minutes!
Rooms are spacious with large bathrooms, balconies, and in-room, mini fridges. For breakfast, we headed to the on-site restaurant, 192 at The Blake, for a hearty buffet of eggs, cereal, oatmeal, and meat - all with a New Mexican flair that even pleased my picky toddler. The restaurant serves lunch and dinner, too. After the slopes, my husband soaked his achy muscles in one of the two outdoor, hots tubs, while my daughter and I swam in the outdoor, heated pool. The Blake has a fitness center with yoga classes, spa, and complimentary on-site laundry service. Rates start at $350/night.
KidTripster Tip: Staying in the village doesn’t mean that you can’t experience the town of Taos. The Blake offers a free shuttle to and from town.
KidTripster Tip: A unique feature of this hotel? Its texting system. You simply text the front desk clerks with any request, and they’ll respond within minutes!
If you want a little more space in the village, check out the Alpine Village Suites (100 Thunderbird Rd.), just a short walk to the lifts. The family-owned lodge has suites that can sleep up to six people and home rentals that can accommodate larger groups. You’ll love the kitchenettes, allowing you to save money and eat in. Kids will love the outdoor hot tub; some units even have a fireplace and a balcony overlooking the ski area. There’s also a spa, dry sauna, and ski lockers. And it’s pet-friendly! Rates start around $270/night.
KidTripster Tip: Check out the website before booking for specials. The Alpine Village Suites offers mid-week deals during certain times of the season. It also offers a 10% discount on ski and snowboard rentals.
Or you can truly stay on the mountain at the Bavarian Lodge. It’s steps away from Lift 4 and has three guest suites, each with a unique design and feel. Some suites have a full kitchen, but a full breakfast is included with each stay. This lodge is for the family who wants to escape it all. Rates start at $335/night.
KidTripster Tip: Book the Bavarian Lodge early. With only a few suites set in such a hassle-free, majestic environment, this place fills up fast!
KidTripster Tip: Check out the Taos Ski Valley website for more options - from lodges to multi-bedroom condos with kitchenettes. Some even offer deals on lift tickets and rentals. For example, Hotel St. Bernard (112 Sutton Place) offers week-long packages which include accommodations, lift tickets, morning lessons, and three meals a day.
In town, El Pueblo Lodge (412 Paseo Del Pueblo Norte) is a great family value. Spread out over several buildings, the rooms and suites are modern with a southwestern flair. You’ll get freshly-baked cookies at check-in, plus a free hot breakfast, fitness center, and hot tub. Furry family members are welcome here, too! Rates start around $120/night.
KidTripster Tip: Ask for a room with a wood-burning fireplace.
Another family-friendly, in-town option is the Sagebrush Inn and Suites (1508 Paseo Del Pueblo Sur). The rooms have been recently renovated but still maintain a quaint, New Mexico feel; most rooms have a fireplace. We love it because your rate includes a free, hot breakfast each day. The hotel also offers an outdoor, heated pool, three hot tubs, a mini fridge in each room, and an on-site restaurant for dinner. It’s close to the Taos Plaza but about 25 miles from the ski resort. And fido is also welcome here, so bring the entire family! Rates start around $105/night.
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Photo courtesy: The Blake
The remoteness of Taos is both an upside and a downside. Once you get here, you’ll love the intimate feeling, but it takes some driving.
The closest major airport is Albuquerque, which is a good 2-1/2-hour drive. Santa Fe Airport is only 1-1/2 hours away, but it’s smaller, and flights are limited.
You can take the Taos Ski Valley Airport Shuttle. At anywhere from $60 to $160 per person, it may be worth the price to skip the hassle of renting a car, depending on the number of people in your family.
Amy Sward is a 4-time, Emmy Award-winning writer living in Evergreen, Colorado with her husband, 3-year-old future Olympic skier, and another skier on the way!
This writer received a complimentary stay and some activities for the purpose of this review. However, all opinions expressed are solely her own.