The Magic of Taos Ski Valley in the Summer

Hiking in Taos Ski Valley

* I was a guest of Taos Ski Valley during this visit and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

During my first visit to Taos Ski Valley I encountered snow, cold and wicked altitude sickness. The first two were fine, but that last one really kicked my ass. My head was in a vice grip of pain and I felt kinda nauseous for half a day. When I returned to Taos Ski Valley in the summer, I knew I had to do better.

How to Quickly Acclimate to Altitude:

  1. Drink way more water than a human being should drink in a 72-hour period. I started the day before I was scheduled to fly and didn’t stop until I knew I was through the acclimation period.
  2. Take ibuprofen when you land. I took more before I went to bed.
  3. Don’t drink any alcohol until the evening of the second day (and even then, I only had one glass of wine).
  4. When you go to bed (and again if you wake up in the middle of the night) do a series of deep breathing exercises. I tend to shallow breathe anyway, but at altitude (Taos Ski Valley is at 9300 feet) it can feel like hyperventilating. The deep breathing really helped my body relax (maybe getting some much needed oxygen?), so I could sleep.

OK, so why did I put myself through all that? Because we are chasing a few business opportunities in New Mexico, and because it’s totally worth it, business or not. Being in Taos and Taos Ski Valley in the summer was eye opening for this non-skier. In fact, I fell in love with it.

I stayed at The Blake at Taos Ski Valley a beautiful, 80-room hotel that is filled with original art (a Georgia O’Keefe in the lobby, people!), historical black & white photography in the halls and rooms, and some of the best guest service I have experienced in years.

The Blake at Taos Ski Valley

The Blake Hotel in Taos Ski Valley in the summer.

The Blake is the world’s first Certified B Corp ski resort and, as I have mentioned before, that’s important to me (want to know what a B Corp is? Read about it at the link and then seek them out when you plunk your hard-earned money down for services and products). Basically it means the management team is committed to leading with values, protecting the environment and taking care of its employees, in fact the building is LEED certified. Those all get checkmarks in my book.

The Blake’s philosophy is that you are their house guest. They don’t have a cookie cutter approach to guests, but rather customize their approach based on who you are. Both visits, I felt warmly welcomed and like there wasn’t anything I couldn’t ask for or about. Tao Ski Valley is in development mode so I have the feeling that if I can keep going there will be something new to encounter each time.

What To Do in Taos Ski Valley in the Summer

After checking in, I headed to the Spa. As a working mom, business trips have always been “get in and out as fast as possible”. I rarely have time for fun when I travel on business but The Blake staff made sure I would have time to relax and get to know Taos better before doing business. Smart.

The Spa is filled with beautiful Native American art and the treatments were administered by therapists who clearly loved what they do. I left walking on a cloud (and with a little bottle of leftover aromatherapy oil that I had made with my therapist, such a nice touch).

Essential oils at the Blake spa

Create your own aromatherapy blend at the Spa at The Blake Hotel.

Next morning, very early, the adventure began when Angelisa, owner of Heritage Inspirations and a tiny firecracker of a woman arrived in her big black Jeep, ready to take us (me and my business partner) on an immersive, guided cultural tour. While we ate our breakfast she talked non-stop about the land of Taos, the people, and the stories that make this land so rich. First stop was a hike along the Rio Grande Gorge at Orilla Verde.

The Rio Grande at Orilla Verde

The spectacular view from the Orilla Verde trail along the Rio Grande River in Taos.

There was no one there, except for a not-very-shy Bighorn Sheep who hung out with us during a water and snack pit stop. No biggie.

Bighorn Sheep at Orilla Verde in Taos

A lone Bighorn Sheep on the Orilla Verde trail in Taos.

We then headed up to Taos Pueblo, where Ilona, who runs the guide team, walked us around and told us the often heartbreaking history of her tribe. The thing that was so wonderful though was that despite the horrible things that happened to her ancestors, you could hear the resiliency and pride of her tribe. They own tens of thousands of acres of land and are still the guardians of nature. It was hopeful and inspiring to hear her tell it.

the historic church at Taos Pueblo

San Geronimo Church at Taos Pueblo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Historic Landmark.

She even joined us for lunch at Orlando’s New Mexican Cafe where we continued the conversation about present-day politics and how to persevere. All of that while eating some of the best stacked blue-corn enchiladas I’ve ever had.

Angelisa wasn’t done yet. We drove into town for a treat at Chocolá, an Instagram-able spot with delicious baked goods and artisan chocolate. They are involved in the entire process from sourcing to roasting to chocolate creations and it pays off.

Chocolá, a chocolate shop in Taos

Chocolá – a charming Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Shop in the town of Taos.

Finally we headed over to Tres Estrellas for a lesson in Native American weaving and a look at some gorgeous weavings from the 1800s.

The next morning we were at it again, bright and early to beat the heat.

Angelisa, owner of Heritage Inspirations

Angelisa, owner and guide extraordinaire from Heritage Inspirations reveals the magic of Taos.

Angelisa took me hiking up the mountain, from the hotel to Williams Lake which is at an altitude of 11,400 feet. Angelisa has an infectious love of New Mexico, its land and culture. I can’t wait to go on another adventure with her. Here she is as we started our climb.There is an interesting fire management project happening on the mountain in which lower brush and trees are being crushed into humus to reduce the chance of fire (the piney smell was intoxicating). The project is a partnership between Carson National Forest, The Nature Conservancy, the Village of Taos Ski Valley and Taos Ski Valley, Inc. Given the smoke we saw that night coming from a nearby valley, the commitment to fire management is both necessary and admirable.

Canyon fire in Taos New Mexico

As we drove down the mountain from Taos Ski Valley we saw this plume of smoke rising in the distance.

Anyway, up we went. Not an easy climb for someone who lives at sea level, and when folks in their 70s walking sticks in hand started passing us by I was more than a little embarrassed, but hey, I made it and that’s what counts.  It was totally worth it. The vistas around Taos Ski Valley in the summer are just as beautiful as when they are covered in snow. Until you can get there yourself, follow Angelisa on Insta (trust me on this).

The path through Carson National Forest on the way to Williams Lake in Taos Ski Valley

Hiking through Carson National Forest on our way to Williams Lake.

That night we had dinner at a new place in town called Salt and Wine.  Located in the historic El Torreon Hacienda in El Prado, which was built in 1847, the outdoor patio faces Pueblo Peak which rewards diners with gorgeous views, particularly at sunset. Although service was a bit slow (I think New Mexico time is different than my fast-paced norm) the food was excellent and I would happily return.

As I tucked into my comfy bed at The Blake, I felt grateful for my visit and the opportunity to combine business and pleasure. Spending that much time in nature doesn’t happen enough, and when it does, I feel its good effects in every atom of my being.