Pros: Steeps, Hike-To Terrain, Slope Aspects (lots of North-facing runs), Inexpensive Lift Tickets
Cons: Remote Location, Snow can be Hit-or-Miss by Season
I was on a ski trip in Southern Colorado over my Spring Break, making the rounds at Crested Butte, Wolf Creek, Silverton, Telluride, etc. At the advice of one of my friends who works as an instructor at Breckenridge, I used the extra day in my trip to go down to Taos. Prior to that, I didn't know much about it other than a preconceived notion that it wouldn't be great because it wasn't in Colorado (I am a native, and I guess it shows :-P). Boy was I wrong.
My day that I spent at Taos was a fairly cold day for mid-March (20s) after a string of warm days that had melted the snow across most of the mountain. One of the first things I did all day was to go into the ski patrol hut at the top of lift #2 and ask for a patroller's advice on runs that faced north and didn't get baked in the sun. I walked out of the patrol hut five minutes later armed with a list of about ten or fifteen runs to work with. Lo and behold, I skied just about every single one of them, and every run was just stellar. There are so many steep north-facing runs that you can almost always find good snow, especially if you're willing to hike.
The terrain astounded me. Previously in this season, I had skied lines in Snowbird's Cirque, Aspen's Highland Bowl, and Breckenridge's Lake Chutes that gave me a sense that I could ski just about anything I wanted. My first time up onto The Ridge left me staring down into West Basin wondering if I could be any more wrong. They have it all up there; wide-open steep chutes, narrower steep chutes, and then of course some lines through rocks and trees than I can't imagine anyone would ever consider skiable, but of course there were tracks running through them.
The other aspect of Taos that was amazing was how friendly the staff was. From the person who sold me my lift ticket, to the lift operators making snow sculptures at the bottom of the lift, to the ski patroller who graciously gave me a laundry list of great runs to do, to the food service employees in the lodges, everybody was friendly, welcoming, and committed to making the day an enjoyable experience.
Additionally, the mountain was absolutely beyond deserted. Granted, it was a Tuesday in late March, and therefore shouldn't be expected to be busy at all, but anywhere between 50% and 80% of the chairs on every lift were going up empty. From what I gathered, a "busy day" at Taos might have a liftline reaching *gasp* two or three minutes at most, which is a godsend compared to the lines at places like Vail and Breckenridge that are 15 minutes long on a good day.
I came out of my day at Taos with a ski day that I will remember for the rest of my life, and would have been the highlight of my 11-day trip if not for a freak 22" snowstorm at Telluride four days later. I absolutely plan to go back as soon as I can.
However, I want to make sure anyone reading this understand the context behind my review. I am an expert skier, so therefore I reviewed it based on my experience skiing that part of the mountain. I also went to Taos at the end of a good snow year. Their base was about 80", and there were very very few rocks sticking out anywhere. As far as I understand, Taos's snowfall varies greatly from year-to-year, and most of the expert terrain requires a lot of snow to open. So please take my review with a grain of salt, but do remember that this day was a highlight of my 150-day ski season.