Since hedge-fund manager Louis Bacon bought Taos Ski Valley in 2013, skiers and riders who favor the New Mexico resort have seen something new each season: infrastructure, chairlifts, overnight accommodations, even paved parking lots, and all-mountain cell service.
Now, in his ninth season of ownership, Bacon and his team are laying out the next generation of improvements all around the 1,300-acre mountain that has always been know for steep and deep terrain, unpretentious atmosphere, and a distinctly European flair.
The proposed 2021 Master Plan was unveiled recently as resort management begins to navigate the approval process through Carson National Forest, on which most of Taos Ski Valley sits. Here are some of the highlights:
The big splash calls for a gondola to run from the main base area to the backside Phoenix base area. Main purpose: Reduce congestion at Lift 1 -- the only way up the mountain -- with a direct route to the Kachina Basin and backside lifts and runs. To upgrade summer offerings, the gondola will deliver hikers and bikers to the trail network on the backside.
Then, the chairlifts. Many of what's on the hill date back several decades, and all but one are of the fixed-grip variety. The new plans call for upgrades on all of them -- with a stated priority of getting more people up the hill on the upper frontside Lift 2, and backside mainstay Lift 4. Next in line would be frontside Lift 8 and backside Lifts 7 and 7A. No details yet as to what type of lifts will be installed.
Shelved for now is a West Basin chair, leaving ample acreage of hike-to terrain for which Taos is famous.
Taos' renowned glades will be loosened up. The existing Wild West hike-to glades will be thinned more, and the long-awaited Minnesota's area off the base of Lift 7 will be thinned and readied for tree-skiing.
Sections of groomers all over the mountain will get selective grading to eliminate some of the sudden fall-line and roller transitions, including a large portion of Lower Stauffenberg.
A new restaurant is planned for the base of Lift 7 to further relieve lunchtime crowding on the backside of the hill. And, mid-mountain Whistlestop will be replaced and perhaps moved elsewhere.
And, many skiers and riders will be "relieved" that the patrol shacks atop Lift 7 and Lift 4 will be remodeled to include rest rooms.
The oft-cumbersome parking configuration will get an upgrade, as will the dropoff zones.
All these plans are tentative, pending consensus from the U.S. Forest Service, neighboring Taos Pueblo, and the skiing and riding public. TSV hopes to begin work next summer.