El Niño is in full swing this year and "the Southwest definitely has the highest correlation between strong El Niño events and significant snowfall,” says Joel Gratz, the founding meteorologist at opensnow.com. And the data says that ground zero for snowfall is the laid-back resort of Taos. The mountain has long been known for its steeps, including, perhaps, the West’s best powder lap: Kachina Peak. It was once accessible only by a 45-minute hike, but last year Taos installed a new high-speed lift straight to the top. This chair, combined with a forthcoming hotel and massive upgrades to the base area, all make Taos the lucky seven of this El Niño winter.
Where to Stay: One of the coolest places you’ll ever crash is one of four "Earthships” on the Taos Plateau. The passive solar houses made from mud and other natural and recycled materials (old tires and thousand of bottles) are works of art, and one of the most comfortable places to relax after a day on the mountain.
Inside Tip: Renting in the valley rather than in the town of Taos means low-key nights (rent a house through Airbnb or VRBO) but the payoff is easy access to the lifts when everyone else is struggling to make it up the icy road from Taos. You’ll know you’ve hit the jackpot when, on a big powder day, all the Texans are sliding into ditches and creating a roadblock while you’re snagging lap after lap of powder.