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Taos or Crested Butte - MLK or Prez Week

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

Reality check please if you know Taos or Crested Butte?  

 

I'm planning to visit a kid in Colorado Springs sometime this January or February and ski a couple days while out there.  Had been planning to avoid MLK or Presidents week because we'd likely go to Breckenridge where her pass works and I have a feeling it's a zoo on school holidays.  If I understand the pass correctly she could ski non-holiday weekends at Vail so maybe we'd check that out if we avoid the holidays.  

 

On the other hand - we could take a little more time on MLK or President's week and drive a bit further to Taos or Crested Butte.  Both have been on my to-do list but not if holiday crowds would diminish the experience and double the price, which I've seen at many places.  Also I seem to recall from Tony Crocker's stats that mid-January could be a bad bet for snow conditions at either of these places. 

 

But schedules won't allow a late Feb or March visit this year so, these are my options: longer visit to CB or Taos on long holiday weekends, or non-holiday visit to Breck or maybe Vail. 

 

Any guidance welcome.

 

Thanks.

post #2 of 19

I'm not clear as to what your question is.  Regarding Taos, I would say it does not get overly crowded on holidays nor does it become much more expensive during those times.  They need all the visitors they can get both in town and at the Ski Valley. It is, after all, somewhat out of the way and off the beaten path.

 

If Taos is on your to do list go for it.  Nobody can predict how much snow there will be when you get there.  No matter how much snow Taos has I can always find rocks.  On the other hand, I can avoid rocky places on thin days. 

 

It's a special place and well worth checking out.  Have fun whatever you decide.

post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowfan View Post

I'm not clear as to what your question is. 

 

Good point. I guess the primary questions, some of which you've answered, are:

 

-- How bad are holiday crowds at CB and Taos during Prez week and MLK?

 

-- How risky would it be to plan trips to either for MLK?  In bad snow years (e.g., like last year) are there generally still turns to be made?  Or is there a meaningful risk of getting totally skunked, or stuck on a handful of snowmaking runs that wouldn't be worth the time and expense of getting there?

 

-- Any difference between CB and Taos on those issues? 

 

-- I'm confident my non-skiing wife would enjoy Taos.  How about CB for non-skiers?  I expect she'd like either better than Breck, which seemed overbuilt and overpriced, but I don't know much about the town in CB.  She's not much of a shopper, more of a bookstore, coffeeshop, yoga kind of girl who might venture out on XC or snowshoes in perfect conditions.  So from what I've heard, Vail would be wasted on her.  On the other hand, when I head out to ski where there's nothing but a mountain and a couple of bars, I don't invite her, it's just asking for trouble. 

 

Thanks - any other thoughts?

post #4 of 19
You realize that you're asking the classic "What will the snow be like in (pick a date)" that no one can answer? FWIW this is supposed to be an El Niño year and that's a good sign for the southern Rockies.

And the crowds - how do you measure how bad crowds are? Another FWIW - those places are more crowded during holidays than other times, but they're both way less crowded than SuCo or Utah.

Taos is a good place for non-skiers, somewhat better than CB IMO.

Bottom line, since those places are on your to-do list, just go ahead and pick one and do it. How bad can it be?
post #5 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by ts01 View Post

 

Good point. I guess the primary questions, some of which you've answered, are:

 

-- How bad are holiday crowds at CB and Taos during Prez week and MLK?

 

-- How risky would it be to plan trips to either for MLK?  In bad snow years (e.g., like last year) are there generally still turns to be made?  Or is there a meaningful risk of getting totally skunked, or stuck on a handful of snowmaking runs that wouldn't be worth the time and expense of getting there?

 

-- Any difference between CB and Taos on those issues? 

 

-- I'm confident my non-skiing wife would enjoy Taos.  How about CB for non-skiers?  I expect she'd like either better than Breck, which seemed overbuilt and overpriced, but I don't know much about the town in CB.  She's not much of a shopper, more of a bookstore, coffeeshop, yoga kind of girl who might venture out on XC or snowshoes in perfect conditions.  So from what I've heard, Vail would be wasted on her.  On the other hand, when I head out to ski where there's nothing but a mountain and a couple of bars, I don't invite her, it's just asking for trouble. 

 

Thanks - any other thoughts?

 

Holiday crowds.  I have never been to CB but it is on my to do list.  During the holidays alot of Texas skiers and boarders go to Angel Fire, Red River, Santa Fe as opposed to Taos. Holidays do not impact Taos as badly as some other ski areas.

 

No more risky that any other ski area.  Taos is at 9500 feet and up. Even when the snowcover is thin you can find plenty of rock-free runs. I have learned, in 8 years of skiing Taos as my home hill, to never sweat the snow.  More than a couple times when I expected horrible conditions I found great conditions.  The 75 inch rule is bogus.  It is a high alpine environment.  Wherever the wind puts the snow, ski there.  Frontside, backside, trees....there is always plenty skiable. Relax about the snowcover, it will more than likely be no real problem.

 

It sounds like you ought to stay in town where your wife can find things to do and its a short 20 minute ride to the hill.  My wife is the same in that regard, she likes Taos.

post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks, and keep it coming. 

 

Good point on the unanswerable question Bob but I'm just looking for trends, and these responses are pretty helpful.  I know it's always a roll of the dice but its sounding like a reasonable bet.

 

Coming from the east you'd think I would develop crowd tolerance but it's just the opposite, I probably overreact.  "Bad" crowds in my experience are holidays and most weekends at most east coast resorts with big marketing and easy access from cities (e.g., Stratton, Okemo Jiminy Peak) - basically, intolerable.   "OK" crowds were holiday weekends at Snowbasin or the base level crowds regular weekends at Hood Meadows, Breckenridge, Snowbird, or Whistler (or in the east - Sugarbush, Smuggs, Bromley), where you can wait 15 minutes on main lift or gondola but have 5 minutes or less on upper mountain lifts.  Or holidays at Mad River where you wait but it's worth it for long runs. 

 

So, from your "more crowded during holidays than other times, but ... way less crowded than SuCo or Utah" comment, it sounds like these would easily fall into the tolerably crowded category at worst.  Which makes sense given their relatively remote location and the abundance of other heavily marketed resorts that draw travelers and CO locals with great season pass deals.

post #7 of 19

I haven't skied CB since 2006 so my info may be a little dated.

 

With CB, you have both the town of CB and the resort of Mt. CB, 3 miles distance between them.  The old mining town of CB is truly a Colorado jewel.  It is a fun place with good restaurants.  The ski area used to be as wild west as any ski area in the country.  It was raw and untamed.  Grooming was hit or miss.  You could head down a slope and then all of a sudden the grooming ended.  Made it fun in my opinion.  Around 7 to 8 years ago, more or less, an eastern family bought Mt. CB and proceeded to tame it.  It is now overly groomed, IMHO, or it was as of 2006.  They have definitely upgraded the mountain facilities.  I believe that CB with be a little more crowded than Taos on the holiday weekends you mention, but it will not be significant.  CB will be more expensive.

 

At Taos, on the holiday weekends you mention, you will still not encounter a significant lift line.  You will see a few more snowboarding kids from Texas and Oklahoma.  Prices will not go up, except for ski week lessons.  Lodging is readily available in town or on the mountian.  In town, your wife will find countless galleries to visit, which can be dangerous.  Ski season is the low season in Taos so more deals can be found in galleries for the serious collector.  There are very good restaurants in Taos.

 

Having skied both resorts many times over the last 30 years, I generally found snow quality to be superior at TSV.  Often times very superior.

 

All in all, you can't go wrong visiting either but I'm biased so I recommend TSV.  An interesting place to stay in town is the Taos Inn, a historic old adobe building.  If you decide on Taos, shoot me a PM with any questions you have. 

post #8 of 19

Crested Butte can be a gamble in January if you are wanting to ski the steeper, more challenging terrain that they are known for.  The mountain really needs a lot of snowfall in December and early January to have a deep enough base to open the fun stuff by MLK weekend.  The past few seasons have been hit or miss.

post #9 of 19
Was at Angel Fire once during Texas spring break and lift lines were 45 min. Next day at Taos - no lines.
post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 

It seems counterintuitive that Taos sees less holiday traffic than smaller and lesser-known places, but I'm glad to hear it. 

 

Is it that much harder to get to for whoever makes up the crowds at Angel Fire and Santa Fe?  Red River seems in the same region so it's a mystery why they'd prefer it -- easier terrain? Cheaper tickets?

 

Anyway I'm not complaining, I'm starting to plan for Taos.  Thanks everyone. 

post #11 of 19

Taos is west and north of Angel Fire about an hour.  No harder to get to for most anybody.  If I were to stereotype the crowds at Angel Fire I would sum them up as younger and having a high percentage of boarders.  Same with Red River.   Because they have so many boarders, many families stop there.  Kids board, Mom and Dad ride where the kids ride.  Taos is, generally, not so boarder friendly when it comes to terrain.  Boards have been allowed at Taos for only 3 or 4 years so many people already have their favorite NM destination for boarding, and it is not Taos.

 

The 'vibe' in Taos is old school Mexdian icon14.gif.  At AF, its young American.

 

 

That may sum it up, or be all wrong.  I tend to see it this way.  Facts are there are 6 million skiers in the US and 5 million boarders.  Taos will likely not be ridiculously crowded during our lifetimes.  In part, we can thank the Blake family for keeping it pretty much in a time warp...the good kind.

 

The Forest Service has approved their long range plan to run a lift to the top of Kachina.  Whether they do or not, Taos will probably always be just like it is, almost perfect. 


Edited by Snowfan - 9/17/12 at 4:15pm
post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by ts01 View Post

It seems counterintuitive that Taos sees less holiday traffic than smaller and lesser-known places, but I'm glad to hear it. 

Is it that much harder to get to for whoever makes up the crowds at Angel Fire and Santa Fe?  Red River seems in the same region so it's a mystery why they'd prefer it -- easier terrain? Cheaper tickets?

My guess is that it's somewhat harder to get to, it's more expensive, it's harder to ski there, and also Taos is larger so it can absorb crowds better.
post #13 of 19

If you go to Taos, get your coffee at World Cup.  It's just at the start of the old part of town (as you are going North).

I stopped there every day on the way to the mountain, and sometimes on the way back to the motel afterward.

 

If you go to Crested Butte, stay in the town of CB, not the mountain village.  It's a seven minute free bus ride up the hill and no parking hassles  -- your wife can use the car.

 

I really liked both towns (Taos and Crested Butte).

 

I've been in CB president's week and Taos MLK weekend, and neither was crowded.  A few minutes for the main chair out of the base at peak times at Taos, zero line everywhere else.


Edited by mdf - 9/17/12 at 7:55pm
post #14 of 19

If the snow is sketchy in Taos, you can drive over to South Fork and ski Wolf Creek one day. Although Taos had way better snow than most other CO resorts last year and should be fine by MLK.

 

It's not getting to Taos that keeps the crowds down...Angel Fire et al are smaller, more "family" resorts. AF has a great terrain park which the kiddies like. Taos has that scary steep rep which their parents don't.

post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone.  Now the hard part: getting a 19 y/o to make plans.  The only problem with the kid getting schooled in Colorado is I have less leverage in offering yet another great ski opportunity -- shoulda sent her to Florida. 

post #16 of 19

Given the parameters I think this is an easy call.  

 

1) Summit County during any holiday period is a horrible choice if crowds bother you. 

2) Crested Butte and Taos are speculative choices in January (especially on the expert terrain both places are renowned for) but decent choices mid-February and later.  I agree that overall Taos is a little more reliable for snow. 

3) The non-skiing wife tips the balance decisively to Taos IMHO.  Galleries, southwest culture, restaurants etc. Give her a couple of days in Santa Fe also. And you're sleeping at 7,000 in Taos vs. 9,000+ at Crested Butte, which your non-skiing wife may not like so much either.

post #17 of 19
Thread Starter 

Tony - THANKS -- nice to hear it from the source.  I know it's a speculative call on conditions but coming off last season, it could only be more of the same or better, and with the other factors, it seems like the best bet.  And I forgot about the altitude factor.  A quick weekend at Breckenridge last year was tough on both of us. I found the first day of skiing pretty tough, and it seemed silly to drive away on day two when I had acclimated.  More importantly though my wife had headaches and couldn't sleep;  I'd rather she be comfortable and enjoy these trips, for obvious reasons. 

 

Good news is that wife and daughter have now both signed on to the plan.  Thanks everyone.

post #18 of 19

Tony is right about the sleeping altitude   7000 at the town of Taos... But the base of Taos mountain is over 9K. So keep that in mind when selecting accomodations.

post #19 of 19
Thread Starter 

Oh yeah, in town for sure.

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