Staying afloat when winter’s over

Taos Ski Valley businesses keep doors open during off season

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While the snowpack melts and many stores temporarily close their doors after the boom of ski season, a few stragglers at Taos Ski Valley keep the lights on and the energy going in the empty village during the off season.

From the beginning of April to mid- June, activity in Taos Ski Valley slows to a lull compared to the busy snow and summer seasons, which merchants in the area look forward to every year. Lifts at Taos Ski Valley don’t open for summer operations until June 23, and some of the landmark businesses in the area remain closed up to the warm summer days. Despite the overall ghost-town appearance of the summer ski area, many shops and merchants remain open to serve the guests who visit the area between the more active times of the year.

“When we open [Memorial Day] weekend, it’s because we love our store, we love the locals, we love the ski valley and we want to promote the beauty of the this area,” said Linda Carr of Andean Software. “We want the locals to come up, we want to promote the ski valley and we just love what we do.”

Andean Software is one of several apparel shops, along with Taos Sports and The Boot Doctor, that remain open in the ski area during the off season, which most merchants describe as the times between April and late June and again from September and October. The Blake hotel, 192 At the Blake and Taos Sports remain open year-round for Taos Ski Valley visitors.

While major events in the ski area don’t begin until June 23, activities and opportunities still exist for the traveler willing to drive up the mountain for the day. Along State Road 150, as the road leads to the ski valley, several hiking trailheads and campgrounds dot the narrow mountain road paralleling the Hondo River. Hikers, campers and even fishermen parked their cars on the sides of the road during an early June weekend to make full use of the area. Campgrounds and trailheads were full of outdoors enthusiasts from the Lower Hondo Campground up to Taos Ski Valley. Many of them later make their way to the businesses in the ski valley, according to some of the shop workers.

“Residents are happy to see us open this summer,” said Kim Pelton. “I think people are still finding us, but the response has been positive. People come up for hiking and I think it’s only going to get better. People aren’t accustomed to coming up here so much and expecting to see things open.”

Pelton manages the Taos Mesa Brewing Ski Valley Tap Room, which has been operating for three winters, but opened for its first summer on Memorial Day weekend. While she said opening during the summer feels like an experiment, the experience has gone well so far. Catching hikers from the trails in the ski area as well as the local residents in the valley, the Taos Mesa Brewing location, the Stray Dog Cantina and 192 At the Blake are the hot places to enjoy a drink while in the summer lull of the ski valley. While much of the ski valley was closed the past summer due to construction of The Blake, shops are turning on their open signs and greeting customers with friendly smiles as they continue to explore the valley for the summer.

With the opening of the Bavarian Lodge and Restaurant, as well as the several summer concerts and events planned in the area, visitors are expected to make the trip up the mountain to explore and soak up the summer sun at Taos Ski Valley.

“The Taos Ski Valley Chamber of Commerce continues to work through the spring on winter data gathering, updating the website for summer, planning events, booking music, producing a new ‘Taos and Taos Ski Valley Visitor Guide’ and getting ready for our summer visitors,” said TSV Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Courtney Tucker. “By June, the weather is warmer and we are ready for the many visitors to Williams Lake and Wheeler Peak. By July, the weather is warm enough to support music on Saturdays, events at The Bavarian and The Resort Plazas.”

According to the Taos Ski Valley Chamber of Commerce, weekend events will continue consistently throughout the summer beginning on June 23, including a variety of concerts, lecture events and sporting activities.

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