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Filed under: Nature & Wildlife, One-Tank Trips, Outdoor Recreation & Hiking

An Alpine Village in the Southwest?

October 19, 2011 by · 2 Comments 


Located in northern New Mexico at a base elevation of 9,200 feet above sea level, the tiny village of Taos Ski Valley, NM is surrounded by green forests and high mountains. First incorporated in 1996, it is New Mexico’s 100th municipality, yet it boasts the world class Taos Ski Valley Resort. The Rocky Mountains surrounding the village provide fabulous skiing during the winter months as well as beautiful hiking and horseback riding terrain in warmer weather. In fact, New Mexico’s highest peak, Wheeler Peak, overlooks the town, standing at a majestic 13,161 feet.

We visited Taos Ski Valley this summer, as we had to pass through the village while en route to our Williams Lake hike, and were again struck by the resemblance to a village one might find in the Austrian Alps.

ski run

Ski run during summer

Architecture in the valley is reminiscent of an alpine community and appears as if it was plucked out of the “Sound of Music” set. While we have yet to personally experience the Ski Valley during prime tourist season for the world class downhill skiing that is so popular here, during previous years we have enjoyed the most spectacular mountain scenery while horseback riding up into the mountains.

TSV, as it is fondly called, was initially established as a bustling miner’s camp. Today, with mining operations all but obsolete, the village is home to more than 40 merchants providing an inviting range of casual dining, lodging, shopping and outdoor activities. While the last census put the human population of TSV at a mere 56 persons, the valley is also home to a much larger population of deer, elk, bear and bighorn sheep. In addition, during prime ski and hiking seasons, the population swells exponentially, with tourists drawn to the area for the beautiful Alpine scenery and the abundance of outdoor activities.

ski lift

Ski lift with wildflowers

Located halfway between Albuquerque, NM and Colorado Springs, CO, the village regularly draws visitors from throughout the country, but there are numerous residents of Texas and Colorado who vacation here regularly. A mere 21 miles from the county seat of Taos, it is easily accessible for New Mexico residents as well. If you do find yourself in the area, or nearby in Colorado or Texas, it is worth the drive over to check out this alpine village set in the southwest.

Mountain stream

Mountain stream

Read more about New Mexico campgrounds and things to see and do in New Mexico.


2 Responses to “An Alpine Village in the Southwest?”
  1. Robert H. Lovell says:

    Taos was the first place I skied in college. I have been back many times. When the snow is good it’s one of the best places to ski. When the snow isn’t good, it’s icey and difficult to ski. The first time I skied there I met Ernie Blake. He had been in the OSS during the war and started Taos after WWII. We stayed in a dormitory with meals included. I had to rent wooden skis. They were so long they were impossible to turn unless you were an Alf Engen (the great Utah skier). I have skied every slope in New Mexico, but it still can’t compare to Utah where I live now.

  2. Diane Berry says:

    Thank you, Robert, for sharing your memories of Taos Ski Hill. They make a nice addition to this post. I am impressed that you met Ernie Blake! Haven’t spent much time in Utah–sounds like we will have to get there soon! Thanks again!

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