Taos Beginner Skiing

Taos’ beginner skiing is spread across the entire mountain and confident novices will have a chance to ski from the top of almost every lift. First timers are also welcome and Taos’ well-earned reputation for sunshine makes it a wonderful place to pick up the sport.

Seen from the valley floor, the Taos slopes can be terrifying. A sign proclaims “Don’t Panic – You are looking at only 1/30 of Taos Ski Valley.” However, once beginners get past the fear of looking up at some of North America’s steepest mogul runs, Taos is actually a fantastic resort for novices. Unlike many ski resorts, Taos doesn’t have a cluster of true novice runs. The green runs are spread out across the mountain and almost every chairlift has a green trail from its summit (Kachina Peak is the notable exception). As a result, beginners are able and will want to explore the entire resort via long green runs.

On the frontside, the main downhill option for beginners is White Feather. Ernie Blake had a wry sense of humor and White Feather is perfect example of Ernie secretly having a little fun. While most assume the trail’s name is Native American in origin, White Feather is an actually reference to the white feathers British women handed to men who, presumed to being cowards, failed to enlist in the British Army during the Boer War. Talk about a deep reference! However, there is nothing cowardly about skiing White Feather and this long green run drops 1,700’ from the top of Lift 1 back to the base. The lower stretches with fencing to the skier’s left offer particularly beautiful views of the valley below. Novices can also venture onto Lift 8 and take Jess’s or Bonanza back to White Feather for some additional variety.

On the backside of the resort, Honeysuckle is the main beginner run. The trail begins at the top of Lift 2 near the hike-to terrain of the West Basin Ridge. It zigs and zags its way down the backside of the resort collecting expert skiers from the steep chutes above as it descends to the base of Lift 7. After riding Lift 7 back to the top, beginners can choose to ski Lower Totemoff (named in honor of Ernie Blake’s indian guide) or follow the right branch of Honeysuckle to the base of Lift 4.

Lift 4 offers one of the best clusters of green trails on the mountain, though, quizzically, many beginners struggle to find this part of the mountain. Perhaps its distance from main base – a minimum of two lift rides and several runs are necessary to reach the base of Lift 4 – discourages novices. Whatever the case, the green runs off Lift 4 see fewer skiers despite being the easiest novice slopes on the mountain. Japanese Flag is the main downhill option and winds its way through gullies and mature strands of pine trees before merging with Lower Patton. Several routes are available by taking the various green spurs that present themselves during the descent. Once done skiing in this area, beginners can take the Rubezahl trail to the main base village. Skiing the full circuit to and from the village base as described above can take beginners a full morning or afternoon. Many prefer to skip the Rubezahl trail and imbibe on the deck of the Bavarian, utilizing the Bavarian’s shuttle back to the base at 4:15 pm.

For true first timers, there are several learning pitches near the base village. The Pioneer Lift services a gentle green slope that runs parallel to Rubezahl. On the other side of the base area, the slightly steeper pitches of Strawberry Hill (served by an eponymous lift) provide a slightly bigger challenge for novices looking to progress to the longer greens atop the resort.

One additional benefit for beginners at Taos Ski Valley is the fact that all of the green runs are covered with snowmaking. While expert skiers can have real concerns about whether the snowpack will be deep enough to allow some Taos’ famous steeps to open, beginners have no such concerns. The dry desert air and consistently cold temperatures allow Taos’s snowmaking to lay down a reliably excellent surface.

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