Forest Service approves Taos Ski Valley expansion

Associated Press Published: September 4, 2012

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. Forest Service has approved Taos Ski Valley's request to expand its expert terrain by 60 percent with two new lifts that will take skiers to popular high alpine areas currently accessible only to hikers.

The plan also calls for upgrades to three other lifts, thinning of trees to expand two new glade areas for advanced intermediate to expert skiers, construction of a permanent tubing facility, a snowshoe trail system and a lift-served mountain bike trail for summer visitors.

Officials hailed the action as crucial for helping the northern New Mexico ski area keep pace with competitors in Colorado.

Taos Ski Valley chief operating officer Gordon Briner says thanks to fairly good snow over two of the past three years, as well as the ski area's decision four years ago to open its trails to snowboarders, skier visits have increased, "but not to the extent that we really had hoped, and that's why we think these improvements are important."

Adding the lifts to access the Kachina and West Ridge areas above the tree line are especially important for remaining competitive with Colorado resorts like Breckenridge, Telluride and Arapahoe Basin, which say they have seen skier visits increase 10 percent since adding high alpine lifts, Briner said.