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Taos Ski Valley

posted: 07/25/2005

Elevation: 12,481 feet
Vertical: 3,244 feet (including hike-to terrain)
Snowfall: 266 inches
Acres: 1,294
Info: 800-347-7414,

Beta: The sign at the base of Taos Ski Valley reads, don't panic: this is only 1/30 of taos. We have easy runs, too. Thirty percent of the terrain—from the treed chutes of Highline to the above-treeline shots of Kachina Peak—requires bootpacking next to ponytailed telemarkers.

First Tracks: Take a quick lap on Al's Run, an 1,800-vertical- foot, 35-degree egg carton of a bump run. When patrol opens the route to Kachina, hike your way from the top of Lift 2 out Highline Ridge—where the runs are everything from wide-open (Juarez) to tight (Corner Chute).

Must-Hit: With jaw-dropping views of the Sangre de Cristos, the 45-minute ridge-hike to Kachina Peak is the Taos classic. Most people just mach down Main Street, the obvious open face; traverse skier's right into Hunziker Bowl for a tighter, steeper line.

Après: Tim's Stray Dog Cantina, at the base, is fine for martinis, but it's best to drive into town (19 miles) to Eske's for hearty fare, like burritos stuffed with potatoes and doused in New Mexico's famous green chile.

The Tip: Parts of the Laughing Horse Inn, on Highway 64 in downtown Taos, were crafted by hippy carpenters in the '70s, which explains the built-in Jerry Garcia shrine and the four-foot-high bathroom doors (from $47, Every room has a CD and VHS player, and the in-house collection is predictably random—and extensive: A Clockwork Orange to Care Bears: Be My Valentine to Blue in the Face.

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