During the summer and fall of 2015, the Taos Ski Valley base area was a muddle of bulldozers, gravel crushers, cranes and concrete trucks. Buildings no longer exist where they once were and new buildings exist where none did before. Nearly all of the construction and demolition in the Ski Valley was of Ski Valley-owned buildings and businesses. Most other restaurants and shops are still in the same place.
The Blonde Bear Tavern at the Edelweiss Lodge and Spa is in the heart of the biggest project, the site of the new resort center building. If you want to a peek at the future of Taos Ski Valley and enjoy a meal and a glass of fine wine, the Blonde Bear is the spot. Also in the Edelweiss is Cafe Naranja, where they have coffees, pastries and the best breakfast menu in the Ski Valley.
The Edelweiss neighborhood is home to three ski shops. If you want to avoid the crowds and confusion of the resort’s new, but temporary, rental shop, Cottam’s is a good alternative. You’ll get more personal attention and a better fit. Next door is the Boot Doctors, one of the premiere boot fitting shops in the country. Poorly fitting boots can ruin a ski vacation. Your feet don’t have to hurt, and they won’t if you get some boot work done here. Alpine Extreme (open daily from 7:30 am), located in the Edelweiss, is the only ski-in ski-out shop in the valley. They have a bit of everything.
As you walk along Thunderbird Road, which is the main entrance to the resort, you’ll pass a number of places. The first spot you’ll pass is Le Ski Mastery, a shop known for excellent ski tunes and demos. Next is the Pizza Shack, and as the name implies, it serves pizza, and pasta, beer and wine as well. They have local delivery in the evenings.
You can find chocolates, baked goodies, coffee, tea and smoothies at Molly’s Sweet Escape. They also serve the same made-to-order crepes served at Molly’s Crepe Escape on the mountain. Next door is the Taos Mesa Brewing Company’s Tasting Room. At this cool and cozy space they serve beers made at their brewery outside of the town of Taos.
Box Canyon is next door to the Tasting Room, and it’s a place you’ll want to remember. The name is a twist on the popular rafting section in the Rio Grande Gorge known as the Box. As you might expect, they ship packages, so if you buy something you don’t want to carry home with you, they’ll take care of it. Box Canyon also has a really nice collection of gifts.
Across the street from Box Canyon, you’re sure to notice the circus tent Taos Ski Valley has put up. This temporary building is the new home of Taos Ski and Boot, the rental shop, Andean Software, the Chamber of Commerce and seasonal lockers. The ticket office and ski school sales will be in a different building, just before the bridge at the end of Thunderbird Road.
With the exception of an entire building disappearing, the area at the base of Lift 1 has seen little change. Tenderfoot Katie’s Food Court, Rhoda’s Restaurant, and the Martini Tree Bar, complete with pool tables, are still there.
The last vapor of the classic, old Taos Ski Valley is the famous Hotel St. Bernard. Accommodations here are rustic and may be hard to get, but it remains a favorite place to hang out. The deck upstairs serves burgers and other things from the grill and has a full bar. Downstairs is a bigger bar and more food. There’s live music every night.
There are a lot of changes and work will continue throughout the season, but Taos Ski Valley is still a small, intimate mountain and it’s hard to get lost in the base area. Though it is worth trying.