When we crave a desert escape, we don’t drive west to the mega-popular parks and canyons of Utah. Instead, we skip I-70 and head south to Taos.
In all seasons, Taos is home to spectacular recreation, sparse crowds, and some seriously good green chile. And it’s just a 5-hour drive from Denver. So this week, we rounded up three of our favorite adventures in the Soul of the Southwest.
Hiking / snowshoeing: Williams Lake
One of the most popular hikes for snowshoes in the Taos area is the 2-mile Williams Lake Trail on the backside of Kachina Peak. It’s a beautiful hike just outside the ski resort, with views of jagged ridgelines in all directions.
The hike includes 700 feet of elevation gain, but it’s worth it. The mountain cirque that overlooks the nestled lake is beautiful, and the trail is very well marked by blue paint on the trees following the trail.
If you go: The Williams Lake Trail officially starts at the Taos Ski Valley base village, but most hikers start 1,000 feet higher at The Bavarian Lodge & Restaurant. The trail is clearly marked from here, and the restaurant offers great post-hike eats.
Photo by Anna Baldwin.
Mountain biking: West Rim Trail
One of the most notable sites near Taos is the Rio Grande Gorge “High Bridge” about 12 miles northwest of town. The bridge spans across a massive gorge almost 600 feet above the river below and provides stunning views in all directions.
The bridge is worth visiting for its own sake. But it also serves as the launch for the 9-mile West Rim Trail: an out-and-back that tours the edge of the gorge. The double-track trail is mostly flat, making it accessible to mountain bikers of all abilities.
If you go: Park at the rest station on the east side of the bridge. The trail is well-marked and starts behind the rest station. On the way back to town, stop by Taos Pueblo: the oldest continuously inhabited community in the United States.
Photo by Daniel Schwen. Photo has been cropped.
Skiing: Taos Ski Valley
Even when other regions experience extreme dry spells, Taos Ski Valley gets plenty of snow. the resort actually extended their ski season last year, when many U.S. mountains hit all-time low snow totals.
Taos is best known for its steeps. The resort has outstanding bowls and hike-to terrain, and their new lift up the 12,450-foot Kachina Peak services some of the highest, gnarliest lift-accessed terrain in North America.
If you go: A regular adult lift ticket at Taos costs $86 (pretty cheap by Colorado standards), but the resort offers deals online for up to 25% off. Before hitting the slopes, we recommend a breakfast enchilada at Michael’s Kitchen.
Photo courtesy Taos Ski Valley.