Whether you’ve lived in Taos your whole life or you have just arrived, the vast landscape of Taos County will always have something to satisfy your outdoor desires.
Story & Photos by Jay Foley
Do you ever wonder about winter recreational alternatives? Taos County has plenty of options to get you outside enjoying the beauty of nature during the winter months. Escape the snow while boating, rock climbing, fishing or hiking down along the Rio Grande. Go deep into the mountains and enjoy the silence of the snow-covered hills. Take a short joyful romp on snowshoes or snowshoe up a steep trail for a vigorous workout. How about venturing into the backcountry under your own power, with avalanche beacons, probes and shovels, and find powder hidden deep in the trees?
All of this is possible right here in Taos. You will also find friendly, professional guides available to outfit you with the equipment you’ll need. The varied terrain, elevation and sun aspects in this region create many microclimates throughout the winter months, allowing for all sorts of outdoor options. Look for helpful information and equipment from local outdoor stores like Taos Mountain Outfitters, Mud ’n’ Flood and Cottams.
Do you want to enjoy the majestic beauty and silence of the snow-covered mountains in winter and take a break from the fast pace and people on the ski slopes for a day? Try getting out for a casual half-day snowshoe tour or go deeper into the mountains with a full-day tour.
Maybe you’re looking for more adventure? Get into the backcountry mountains on snowshoes, skis or a snowboard, finding powder stashes in the trees or on the side of a mountain face. If you already have the skills, experience and gear, check in with the Taos Avalanche Center for updates and conditions to get started.
If you are like most of us, you may want a professional guide to take you or teach you the necessary skills. The international outfit Mountain Skills Guides are located right here in Taos, with guides available for 1-hour casual snowshoe strolls or backcountry snowshoe, ski or snowboard adventures.
Do you want to get out of the snowy conditions for a day and enjoy a milder climate? One of the unique aspects of the Taos winter climate is the ability to get from 13,000 feet down to below 6,000 feet in less than 20 miles! This — coupled with nearly 300 sunny days a year and the dry warm southwestern weather — allows visitors and locals alike to enjoy winter conditions one day and T-shirt weather the next.
The highest point in the Taos region — and the state — is Wheeler Peak, at 13,161 feet. The lowest points in the area are in the Rio Grande Gorge near the towns of Pilar and Rinconada. They offer a much milder climate most of the winter. In Taos, it is possible to ski dry mountain powder in the morning, and then be riverside, boating, hiking, or rock climbing in a T-shirt by mid-afternoon.
Confused on where to go or how to get yourself started? The guides with Mountain Skills Adventures have made a lifestyle out of navigating these climate differences during the winter months here in the Taos region. Grab one of them for a multi-day tour of the area, a short morning mountain snowshoe, or an epic guided backcountry ski tour. If you prefer, enjoy the warmer weather with a guided hike or beginner rock climb in the warmer Rio Grande Gorge.
Whichever way your outdoor pleasure tends, you are sure to find plenty of experiences to satisfy your soul here in the Southwest mountain town of Taos.