History & Stats

The Beginning

Ernie Blake holding skis

In the early 1950's, Ernie and Rhoda Blake were living with their children in Santa Fe where Ernie was managing the brand new Santa Fe Ski Basin. As part of his job Ernie would fly his Cessna 170 into Southern Colorado to work at Santa Fe's sister ski area, Glenwood Springs. His dream was to have a ski resort of his own, so as he flew he searched for a place where he could begin building his vision. Eventually, he found an ideal spot, the big snow basin north of Wheeler Peak in La Cal Basin. "There was a tremendous snow basin...I thought it was an optical illusion." (-Ernie Blake, Ski Pioneers)

After finding the perfect spot, Ernie moved his family to Taos Ski Valley in 1955. From a camper in the base area where they lived, the Blakes began to build what is now a world-class ski resort. The following are a few facts and stories about how TSV grew and about the people and experiences which give Taos Ski Valley its individual character. Click here for more information on the history behind the trail names of Taos Ski Valley.


Taos Ski Valley was founded in 1954 by Ernie and Rhoda Blake. They lived in an eleven foot camper as there were no buildings in the area except an almost-completed Hondo Lodge (now the Inn at Snakedance). Even after they moved into the lodge, they lived without power until 1963.  

The first lift was a Bridger-Boseman J-Bar which was installed in the fall of 1956 by Ernie, sixteen men from Taos Pueblo, and a mule named Lightening. After one day of dragging lift and tower parts through the snow up what is now Al's Run, Lightening quit. 

The only run down the mountain in 1956 - 57 was what is now Snakedance  

In fall of 1957 a Poma (platter) lift went up Al's Run and ended where Tower 8 of Lift One is now. The lift pulled passengers along the ground at twice the speed of a modern lift. People would ski down around the lift riders because the run was so narrow. Small people were lifted completely off the ground in certain spots and hung spinning in the air.

Rancher Chilton Anderson, was hired in 1956 by Ernie. He was extremely tall and was in charge of lifting the cable back on to the towers when it would fall off...which it did regularly. He soon joined the Ski School and retired after 37 years of service.

The first rental fleet was purchased from the army at Camp Hale when the base there was closed. The skis sold for $1 per ski and had holes in the tips through which a rope could be strung so the skis could be used as a sled. Rhoda was in charge of mounting bindings on all the skis because Ernie wasn't handy with mechanical objects.  

On March 19th, 2008, Taos Ski Valley opened it's doors to snowboarding for the first time ever. Prior to this date, Taos Ski Valley was a ski-exclusive resort


black and white picture of 3 skiers. A mother and 2 children standing on their skis Some ski resorts are manufactured for the masses. This is not one of them.

Taos Ski Valley is a rugged, authentic mountain, pioneered by people who put skiing first and all else second.

Kachina Peak stands high above the Sangre de Cristo mountain range at 12,481 feet. From here, skiers and boarders survey some of the finest terrain in North America - bone dry powder shots, steep chutes, big bumps, cornices, and glades- it is all here. If heart-stopping terrain is not your thing, you will find miles of well-manicured slopes and gradual groomers to carve up all season long. This mecca of snow sports shows every level of skier and boarder a great time.

Thanks to Mother Nature’s genius and some coveted stashes, there’s always more to explore than your legs will allow.

Taos Ski Valley Statistics
  • TOTAL ACREAGE - 1,294 acres
  • NUMBER OF TRAILS - 110 total: 24% beginner, 25% intermediate, 51% expert
  • NUMBER OF LIFTS - 15 total: 4 quad chair lifts; 3 triple chairs lift; 5 double chair lifts; 3 surface lifts
  • BASE ELEVATION - 9,200 feet / 2,805 meters
  • SUMMIT ELEVATION - 12,481 feet / 3,804 meters
  • VERTICAL DROP - 3,281 feet / 997 meters
  • HOURS OF LIFT OPERATION - 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
  • UPHILL CAPACITY - More than 15,000 skiers per hour   
  • SNOWMAKING CAPABILITIES - 100% of beginner and intermediate slopes

Winter sports at Taos Ski Valley are made possible through a unique public-private partnership with the United States Forest Service which manages portions of the federal land utilized for these activities.