Taos Expansion Plans OK’d, Pending Final Appeal
Officials at Taos Ski Valley will spend the next three months prioritizing improvements to the resort, following a U.S. Forest Service “record of decision.”
A 45-day appeal period, limited to previous commenters, still remains before the final OK for the resort’s master development plan, which was submitted to the Forest Service in 2010 as required of permittees who use public lands. Highlighted in the plan are new lifts to reach the extremes of TSV terrain that have been only accessible by hiking.
“During the two years of this process, we’ve only had internal discussions on what we want to do and when,” Gordon Briner, chief operating officers at the resort, told SnoCountry.com. “So in the next three months, we will be working on what to do first, second and third.”
While the high-profile Main Street chairlift up Kachina Peak got most of the press, Briner said improvements to summer activities, such as developing more mountain bike trails, are just as important to the resort’s future.
"We’ve still got a great mountain experience here without Main Street lift,” Briner said. “But it’s no secret that we’ve been lagging behind in the summer business, and it’s important to us to remedy that deficiency for the resort.”
The resort “can’t write the check at this time” for the new Main Street or West Basin lifts, but officials will be exploring financing options in the coming months: “Timing of projects will of course be related to cost,” Briner said.
A 3.6-mile, lift-served mountain bike trail is proposed between the top of Lift 1 and the base area. Cyclists would be able to ride Lift 1 and descend this trail, with an average grade of 8.5 percent during the summer.
The proposed fixed-grip Main Street chair would run from the top of Lift 4 to the ridgeline of the peak at 12,481 feet in elevation and bring several hundred acres of above-treeline skiing and ‘boarding to those who wouldn’t make the hike. Likewise with the Ridge Lift in West Basin area.
The plan also includes upgrades for three existing lifts, thinning to expand two new glade areas, construction of a permanent tubing facility and a snowshoe trail system.
Photo: Will Fox/Taos Ski Valley