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Taos vs. Jackson, January

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
My wife and I are trying to plan a trip in early January (6th-15th or so). We're looking for a very high value/skiing quality ratio. We've skiied CO and UT, and are looking for somewhere else. Taos is attractive, because it's further south and the area is interesting, and they have a cool 6 day lesson package for nothing. I've skiied Jackson before, but not in a while. I'd love to ski it before they kill off the Tram, but I remember (as another thread discussed) that it's nut-freezing cold. Can anyone assess the relative merits of the two resorts, especially for that time of year?
post #2 of 16
I've never been to Taos but in reading what others have posted, in early Jan. very little of their expert terrain is likely to be open. Taos gets less snow that many other Rocky Mtn. resorts and need lots it to cover their very steep terrain. Late Feb to early March are probably the best times for adequate coverage on their expert terrain. If you're not looking to ski the double black terrain you'll probably be fine in early Jan. They are supposed to have an excellent ski school so if you go and do the 6 day lesson package hopefully you'll have a good experience.

Jackson Hole can be very, very cold that time of the year but it's also possible that you'll have relatively normal mid-winter temps. January is supposed to be the highest snowfall month in JH but coverage in early Jan. can certainly be iffy, especially on expert terrain. I don't know that JH will ever be described as value skiing but, in general early Jan. for most ski resorts is a pretty slow time and good bargains can be found at many ski areas. There is something to be said for wanting to go and ski the tram at JH again before the tram closes but access to the top of the mountain will only be limited for a season or two or three.

I know you said that you've been to Utah but they probably have the most reliable early Jan. conditions in the country, esp. Snowbird/Alta or Brighton/Solitude. You can find all sorts of deals depending on how close or far you want to be from the mountain. Another area to consider is Whistler. They usually have relatively good early season conditions, have tons of terrain and still is a pretty good bargain (eventhough the exchange rate is not what it was a couple of years ago). Hope this has been helpful.
post #3 of 16
They are both great mountains. But thats early for both, I would wait until just before you depart to decide.
post #4 of 16
Just to follow up on prosper's excellent comments...

I've only skied Taos once and it was very early in January - 1/1/2000. It was a terrible year for snow there. The famous "Al's Run" that goes up from the base was just grass and weeds. As a matter of fact, we rode the chairlift over the top of deer grazing on Al's.

The skiing higher up was very limited due to lack of snow, but it sure looked like a fantastic mountain if they had the snowfall. I've also heard tremendous things about the ski school. Thier 6-day lesson program is a throwback to the "old" days when people would actually go for weeklong ski vacations and take lessons while on vacation. Sounds like a great program.

As Prosper says, Jackson Hole can also be a mixed bag in early January. One thing for sure, it's the least busy time of our season. We definitely have this reputation for cold weather in January, but that honestly only happens when we have a clear, high-pressure system and sunny days. If it's snowing, which it can and often does do in spades, temps will be in the 20's and it can be some of the finest skiing conditions you'll ever see anywhere.

Since early January is very slow season at almost any ski resort, why not wait and make your reservations at the last minute? See how the early-season snowfall is looking around the West and then go to Taos or JH (or Utah or wherever) based on who's getting pounded the best?

Have fun.
post #5 of 16
I live in southern Colorado and get three days at Taos on my Purgatory Pass every year, so I ski there a couple times every season. It seems to vary from year to year. Often the storm tracks go south and hammer the Sangre de Cristos, and other winters they get largely missed. It is not unusual to have pretty bad snow there in January, but they can often get a 30" dump when the "pineapple express" brings in the southern storms. Last year was the best season in about 5 years, so don't use that as the norm.

If you are not an expert skier then Taos will probably have enough in January to keep you happy. If you are an expert and want to climb the ridge and ski some of their other steeps they may not be consistently open, or extremely rocky. Taos needs at least a 70" base to be decent skiing on the entire mountain, and judging by past years that may only be about a 50% propostion in mid-January. I'm sure the Taos locals can give you a little better prediction.
post #6 of 16
Kachina Peak , Taos . ( I,ve had to use a roller scanner so it maybe a bit grainy )

I love both places but I thought I share a photo of an early morning ridge hike I made with a couple of friends back I think it was 1990 trip may of been 91 .

We stayed at a place called the Abominable Snow Mansion a bunk hose down the valley,communal eating & great value. No idea if its still there ?

It was a wonderfull Day in Paradise

post #7 of 16
New Mexico can be iffy in January in general, I've seen years when no place opened before Christmas, and years with great coverage in November.

Don't believe the hype, if not an advanced to expert skier, Taos has a fair amount of beginner/intermediate terrain.

lodging options abound in TSV, down valley, and Taos.

Caveat: if there are snowboarders in the family, TSV is a ski ONLY resort.
post #8 of 16
Haven't been to Taos for a number of years but I have skied there a couple of times. I consider it a little Jackson Hole. Steep terrain abounds and is fantastic. Others hve commented on snow and climate so let me add one more thing - atmosphere.

Both times I went to Taos I stayed in the village (First at the Thunderbird with meals and the second at a lodge without meals). A ski week at Taos at one of the traditional lodgers includes (or at least used to) getting to know your lodge mates, great food, good comaraderie, etc. The bar seen is also a lot of fun as you will likely end up there at least one (if not a few) apres ski or night with your ski week instructor. It is a unique experience here in the U.S. and makes for a great trip. Note that my biggest conflict while at Taos was having to head over to Tim's Stray Dog Cantina for Chile Relleno's (the best I've had) and brews and still somehow to find the wherewithal to handle an excellent dinner back at the lodge (where dinner is served at a relatively early hour).

That said, Jackson is my favorite ski area (with my dog is named after it). The terrain is second to none. Jackson has a lot of atomsphere (and "tude") both in the Village and in town. Good restaurants with broad choice also abound. I should note that I am extremely lucky to have a few friends in Jackson (first and foremost Bob Peters) all of whom are great skiers and a lot of fun to explore (if I can keep them in site) the mountain with as well as the unbelievable back country to be found there.

A final note. While varied terrain is perhaps the most important criteria for me and I've commented about both these areas having a lot of steep and interesting terrain, both also offer a reasonable amount of more intermediate skiing.
post #9 of 16
Originally Posted by stanton
We stayed at a place called the Abominable Snow Mansion a bunk hose down the valley,communal eating & great value. No idea if its still there ?
Yes it is. In Arroyo Seco.
post #10 of 16
Originally Posted by Si
...Jackson is my favorite ski area (with my dog is named after it)...
I sure hope you named your dog "Jackson", and not "Hole".

I've been to Jackson Hole in January/February during one of the high pressure systems Bob Peters mentioned. It was -20 F outside, but it was a "warm" negative 20 - the sun was out and there was little-to-no wind. Personally I wouldn't let the cold worry you, afterall that's why the Ski Gods have provided us with layering and technical fabrics.
post #11 of 16
Originally Posted by kris247
I've been to Jackson Hole in January/February during one of the high pressure systems Bob Peters mentioned. It was -20 F outside, but it was a "warm" negative 20 - the sun was out and there was little-to-no wind. Personally I wouldn't let the cold worry you, afterall that's why the Ski Gods have provided us with layering and technical fabrics.
In that case, pray to the "ski gods" for the typical inversion with -20 on bottom and +28 on top. (and pray it's not -35 at the bottom and -10 on top)
post #12 of 16
I skied the enchanted circle (Taos, Red River & Angel Fire) nearly every weekend for the last three years. The last 2 Taos has been fine in early January but I believe this is the exception to the rule. By mid February it should be fantastic. I think prosper, Lennyblake, mudfoot and bob peters have summed it up nicely. It is not very expensive time of year and you should be able to get a good deal. If possible I would wait and see what the snow patterns are. I have never skied Taos below 15 degrees.
post #13 of 16
El Nino years favor the south and Taos with Jackson not so good, otherwise, Taos is indeed iffy in January. So keep an eye on the Pacific temperature....
post #14 of 16
Originally Posted by Martin Bell
Yes it is. In Arroyo Seco.
Just out of interest I just looked up the place & its still great value after all these years looks like they modernised it a bit
post #15 of 16
Last year, Taos ended what seemed to be a 10 year drought. The chutes were open in December and January was great. There was plenty of snow in early January all over the mountain. Damn, it was good. Based on the past 11 years, however, you can get some "iffy" conditions in early January. Late January (last two weeks at least) usually gets a fresh dumping every couple of days. This is not a sales pitch for Taos, but it is an awesome mountain that is still very affordable. If you can hold off till the season starts (Thanksgiving) to see what the winter forecast is like, then you can make a better prediction. My vote is for Taos.

On the other hand, I have never skied Jackson Hole but I hear that it is absolutely epic. Worth tolerating the cold. I plan to get a weekend in there soon. I just need to save up about $2k.
post #16 of 16
If you're booking ahead, the January time frame strongly favors Jackson Hole. It's usually covered, and with the SE exposure you want it to be cold to preserve the snow. Taos expert runs will not be skiable close to half the time that early.

If you had asked about March, I would give you the exact opposite answer.
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