Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Double Your Fun: David Contarino Discusses Taos Ski Valley, a Double Diamond Spot

David Contarino
While David Contarino loves his home base in Kentucky, there are other destinations he also enjoys. Taos Ski Valley is one of them. Keep reading for more information from David Contarino on this New Mexico ski resort.

About Taos Ski Valley

For a “city” with a full-time population of less than 100, Taos Ski Valley is one of the most visited ski resorts in New Mexico, reports David Contarino. One of the notable things about the resort is its recently built 12,481’ Kachina lift, the highest triple chair in all of North America.

Taos Ski Valley has a history dating back to the 1800s, when it was settled and later abandoned by miners who, David Contarino recalls, dubbed the area Twining. In the mid-1950s, Rhoda and Ernie Blake reinvented the region as a premier ski resort. The Blakes settled on the property and lived in a small travel trailer during the construction of what is now known as Snakedance Condominiums. Once the lodge was complete, David Contarino says the two set to work installing the property’s first functional ski lift in 1956.

In 1957 the Blake family installed the second ski lift, and David Contarino says that cemented Taos Ski Valley as one of the region’s favorite ski lodges. The Blake family owned the resort until 2013, when it was purchased by American businessman and philanthropist Lewis Bacon.

Economy and demographics

While the Taos Ski Valley is sparsely populated, mostly with resort personnel and support staff, tourism is a huge industry. During the peak season, the Taos Ski Valley Corporation can employ 700 people or more. Tourism pumps $47 million in the local economy – $12 million of which is derived from ski operations, says David Contarino. There are currently more than 50 fully functional businesses in Taos Ski Valley. David Contarino says there is an assortment of condominiums, bed and breakfasts, Alpine-styled accommodations, hotels, and private home rentals available for anyone daring to try their luck on the slopes. David Contarino says the Taos Ski Valley Village is home to artists, businesspeople, retirees and outdoor sports enthusiasts, making for a very interesting, if small, population.

Family time and trails

David Contarino has been bringing his children to the Taos Ski Valley pretty much since they were born. He’s always encouraged them to ski the toughest trails on the mountain. It is difficult, he acknowledges, to watch your kids tackle what appears to be a dangerous situation. However, David Contarino emphasizes that skiing is a relatively safe sport when you are properly taught how to handle the challenge. It is an exceptional family pastime that has allowed him to teach his children how to enjoy one of his lifelong passions.

While the entire area is full of amazing trails, says David Contarino, he thinks the best are found around the West Basin Ridge. These slopes are typical of what Contarino, his children and other skilled Double Diamond skiers enjoy. However, he cautions that they are extremely challenging. David Contarino warns that there are excessive bumps and trees that require skill to navigate throughout the steep and narrow trails.

Other resorts

Taos Ski Valley may be his favorite for skiing the steeps, but there are many other vacation resorts in the area that David Contarino says are worth a visit. Other ski areas near the city of Taos, which is open year-round, are Angel Fire, Red River, and Sipapu. Sipapu, he says, is also an excellent retreat during the summer. The resort has been around for more than 50 years and is about 20 miles south of Taos. It’s a popular destination for people visiting Albuquerque and is considered one of the most family-friendly resorts in the Rockies. According to David Contarino, Sipapu offers white water rafting, fishing, hiking, and, of course, rest and relaxation.

Taos

In addition to the world-class ski resort of Taos Ski Valley, David Contarino says the greater Taos area is not to be missed. Taos is the home of the famous Saint Francisco de Assisi, one of the most photographed churches in the United States. Taos Pueblo, a world heritage site, is also another popular draw in the area. A few of David Contarino and his family’s favorite must-see attractions include:

Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. David Contarino reports the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge is one of the best places in the US to spot bighorn sheep. It is the second highest bridge in the country.

Taos Plaza: The old, historic plaza in the center of town is the home to numerous shops, art galleries and restaurants and the location for local community events such as fairs and concerts.

Greater World Earthship Community. The Greater World Earthship community was initially founded in the 1970s and is a showplace of environmentally-sustainable homes designed and built by the world’s most forward-thinking architects.

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