SKIABLE ACRES, 1,294
ANNUAL SNOWFALL, 305 inches
LIFT TICKET, $55
A GROOVY CONVERGENCE of Native American culture, ski-hard style, and the freest of spirits, Taos is the black diamond in New Mexico's high-desert crown, offering steep transcendence (and lots of green chile) in the wild, wild West.
WHY WE LOVE IT: ¡Viva variedad! Park your journeyman Subaru wagon or beat Jeep CJ right next to that limited-edition Mercedes with the Texas plates—they'll appreciate the contrast. Then look heavenward and feast your begoggled eyes on runs so close to vertical they'll steal your heart (or sink it, if you're toting a prohibited snowboard).
NUMBER-ONE RUN: Longhorn, a lengthy and snaky double black, shoots between palisades of tall pines, dropping 1,900 vertical feet to a catwalk that spits you out at the base. Masochists should save it for the end of the day, when the bumps are the size of small igloos.
HOT LODGE: In the heart of town is a grand adobe abode called the Fechin Inn, built beside Russian artist Nicolai Fechin's former home, a 1927 structure listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The elegant, Jacuzzi-equipped 84-room hotel is just a hop, skip, and a jump from the Adobe Bar, current home of wicked margaritas. (Doubles, $114-$208; 800-746-2761, www.fechin-inn.com)
SOUL PATCH: Dog-tired and depleted? Stop off at art-infested Taos Pizza Outback, where the cooks spin tasty sesame-sprinkled crusts, blank canvases just waiting for your own creative topping conglomerations.