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Taos Ski Valley

In Taos, it’s all about steeps. Although the New Mexico ski area’s footprint falls just shy of 1,300 acres, it ranks fourth in Challenge. “Amazing terrain makes this mountain seem 3x the size,” says one reader, especially the “innumerable” hike-to lines up high, a smorgasbord of steep bumps, trees, chutes and alpine bowls. Such terrain may not be ideal for those who are learning the craft, warns one visitor: “Not a good choice for beginners and low intermediates. The terrain is unforgiving.” But for Taos’s hardcore, that’s the point. “It’s the skiing, stupid!”

Visitors wax nostalgic about the resort’s “old-fashioned” atmosphere and its “wonderful eclectic people,” who remember and welcome guests year after year. Founder Ernie Blake, a Swiss expatriate, wanted an intimate place with challenging skiing and the slow rhythms of the European mountain hamlets he left behind.

For some, the serious dearth of off-hill action (“the place closes up at 8 p.m.”) and the three-hour drive from the Albuquerque airport is a drawback. For others, that’s the appeal: It’s “a long way from anywhere,” says one reader, “which is good and bad.” Bad, because you must reserve a week to travel there to really get to know the place. Good, because you must reserve a week to travel there to really get to know the place. —Hannah Nordhaus

What’s New: Pioneers Glade, the resort’s first on-mountain residential ski-in/ski-out development.

Mandatory Run: Take an easy hike up Highline Ridge and enjoy a not-too-intimidating descent on Corner Chute, an open glade that always hoards soft snow

Don’t Miss: Deck burgers at the St. Bernard. Heap on green chile and blue cheese.

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