Unexpected Adventures: Taos, NM
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Known for its ancient, red-clay Pueblo buildings and rich pre- and post-colonization history, you wouldn’t immediately think of Taos, New Mexico as a ski destination. And yet, the quaint high-desert town is surrounded by no less than four ski resorts, as well as two terrific Nordic Centers that should be on every cross country skier’s bucket list.
Before hitting the trails, though, be sure you have a cozy base camp from which to explore the Taos region. For an upscale yet old-school feel, try La Doña Luz Inn, where historical features, excellent service and incredible views make for a dreamy getaway. If you’re on a budget, check out SnowMansion Taos, where you can choose from casual rooms as well as shared hostel accommodations, all with easy access to both downtown Taos and all the excitement the surrounding mountains have to offer.
Start your day’s adventure with a good breakfast and a coffee at local favorite Manzanita Market, where innovative sandwiches and fresh, house-made pastries will give you the zip you need to hit the trails. If you prioritize the coffee over the grub, consider one of Taos’s hip, bean-focused coffeeshops: World Cup Café, the Coffee Apothecary, and Elevation Coffee.
For Nordic skiing in Taos, there are two options that should be at the top of your list: Enchanted Forest Cross Country Ski Area, and the Angel Fire Resort Nordic Center.
Enchanted Forest has been a Nordic destination for over 35 years and has the landscape and dedicated staff needed to live up to its name. Over 30 km of beautifully circuitous ski trails (and another 15 km for snowshoeing) climb through the wooded hills southwest of Bobcat Pass under towering fir trees.
The trails themselves are expertly designed and maintained, and occasionally play host to large scale races. Along any route, there are also countless vistas from which skiers and snowshoers can spy down the jagged glacial valley to the south, with its dueling mountain ranges on either side. For obvious reasons, this enchanting venue is considered the premier cross country ski destination in New Mexico—and it should without question be on your list.
Just a few miles south on rt. 38 sits another surprisingly rich pocket (this is mining country, after all!) of top-notch Nordic terrain. Though its best known for its 2,000 feet of vertical and the 80 downhill runs that crisscross it, Angel Fire Resort is also home to 12 km of cross country trails, groomed for both skate and classic skiing.
The terrain varies in difficulty, and is arranged in wide loops that make it easy for serious skiers to crank out long distances or timed repetitions, and for new skiers to get a feel for the sport, without having to venture too deep into the wilderness. Much like Enchanted Forest, terrific views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains abound, and dreamy winter wilderness scenes are easy to find. Angel Fire also maintains a sledding hill near the Nordic center, so that even the non-skiers in your group will be entertained.
No matter what sort of Nordic skier you are, old or young, novice or pro, Taos’ ski destinations have your needs covered. And as for your other needs—well, the town of Taos has those covered as well. After your ski adventure, head on down to La Cueva or Antonio’s for a taste of some of the finest Mexican/southwestern cuisine around. You can also grab an ápres ski pint and a wood-fired pizza at the Taos Mesa Brewing Taproom, where the singular architecture and innovative brews are designed to celebrate both the Southwest’s unique contemporary culture and its complex ancient history.
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