January 17th, 2019
Taos Ski Valley, NM: A Unique Culture and History
Taos Ski Valley is located in the rugged Sangre de Cristo mountains at the start of the Rocky Mountains. Originally an old west mining town established in the 1800s, today is a world-class ski resort.
In 1955 Swiss German ski pioneer Ernie Blake was flying his Cessna 170 over the northern mountains of New Mexico when he eyed a region deemed a perfect spot for a ski resort. He and his wife, Rhoda, along with their children, took up residence in a camper of the parking lot, beginning the work on what would become the first-rate ski destination, Taos Ski Valley. They sought to honor the mountain lifestyle first and foremost. While infusing the resort with their own European roots, the Blake family paid homage to the Native American and Spanish Colonial culture that had been in the region for hundreds of years. Evidence of this three-spoke ancestry can be found all around the resort.
Native American History
History buffs take note, Taos has a centuries-old, long and intriguing history. The steep peaks of the region are often referred to as Monte Sagrado, the sacred mountain. Around the 13th and 14th centuries, Native Americans settled into the region constructing adobe residences and religious structures, many of which still stand today. The Pueblo Indians are a thriving traditional community whose culture remains strong.
“Archaeologists say that ancestors of the Taos Indians lived in this valley long before Columbus discovered America and hundreds of years before Europe emerged from the Dark Ages.” Taos.org
Spanish Colonial Culture
Hundreds of years ago, Spanish explorers lead by Francisco Vazquez de Coronado, came to the Taos region. They were seeking the legendary City of Cibola, one of the seven mythical Cities of Gold (Rock band Rush wrote a song about it). The explorers found more desert than gold, but their heritage has remained in the region ever since.
The Blake at Taos Ski Valley
The Blake at Taos Ski Valley serves as the cornerstone of the resort, connecting the iconic mountain to the unique cultural mix of the northern New Mexico region. Named in honor of the pioneering ski enthusiasts who got it all started, Ernie Blake and his family, it offers year-round accommodations just steps from the mountain. Awarded LEED Silver certification, The Blake is energy efficiency exemplified.
The 80-room complex is a true melting pot of cultures. The design and art that reigns from the region is thoughtfully woven into the decor. The Blake is a full-service lodging experience, providing a spa, pool, restaurant, fitness center and more – all mere steps from the lifts.
Restaurants in Taos Ski Valley
The convergence of European roots, Native American spirit, and Spanish culture create a smorgasbord of food options. From the upscale 4-course French cuisine at the world-renowned St. Bernard to fun New Mexican themed food at Rhoda’s, to BBQ with stunning views at the Phoenix Grill to the Southwestern breakfast fair at the Cafe Naranja, there are choices galore. Tenderfoot Katie’s Fresh Market has an array of farm-fresh grab-n-go entrees for the skier/rider looking to maximize their time on the mountain. 192 at The Blake is a popular ski-in/ski-out European-inspired eatery centered around a communal fireplace offering shared plates and plenty of pizza.
Come for the skiing/ riding, but be sure to check out the town of Taos as well. Taos is a thriving artist’s colony, hosting a large number of art galleries and free museums. As far back as 1915, when six artists formed the Taos Society for Artists, this city has been a mecca for those seeking the cultural art scene. This unique culture will make your ski vacation unlike any other you could possibly experience.
Revitalization: Ski the Change
New ownership in 2014 has lead to a revitalization of the resort, infusing it with new energy and capital investments. But the future of Taos Ski Valley will remain rooted in the vision the Blake Family aspired to. The first season in 1956 had just one run down the mountain, Snakedance. Today Taos has 110 runs, 14 total lifts, and some of the most challenging and diverse terrain anywhere.