Skiing in New Mexico

By Eileen Richardson

There are great ski resorts in New Mexico that don’t get a lot of attention. Each of them offers something different in the mountain itself, their services and locations. They are all worth a day or two of snow adventure.

Ski Santa Fe

Experience the excitement of world-class skiing in breathtaking beauty of Ski Santa Fe. Located minutes from the historic city, Ski Santa Fe welcomes skiers, snowboarders, families, and locals to 12,175-foot mountain. There are 44 trails (20% easiest, 40% more difficult, 40% most difficult) The services provided are a PSIA Certified Ski School, a children’s center that does all day and half day classes including play time and lunch. There is recreational racing available here too. Snowboarding is also very big and is included in the school. 

The adaptive program for both the physically and mentally challenged is offered at the area. The support of sponsors and volunteers make it possible to offer private lessons, equipment and lifts at a nominal fee. Reservations are required. The lifts include a 5,000 foot Tesuque Peak Triple Chair, Santa Fe Super Chief Quad Chair, Sierra Chair, Easy Street Beginner Chair and the Millennium Triple Chair. Average snowfall at Ski Santa Fe is 225 inches. 275 acres of snowmaking is done here. Lifts tickets are $75 for an all-day adult lift ticket, $62 for all day teen (13- 20) Children (under 12) $52 and seniors (62 and over) all-day lift tickets are $56. The season usually is Thanksgiving to Easter.

Taos Ski Valley

Taos is world renowned for its beautiful mountain, pristine uncrowded slopes and a skiing and snowboarding experience. There are 110 trails. (24% beginner, 25% intermediate. And 57% expert) There are 12 lifts. 4 quad chair lifts, 1 triple chair lift, 5 chair lifts, and 2 surface lifts. The base elevation is 9,207 feet and the highest lift is at 11,819 feet. Taos Ski Valley has classes for everyone and is said to have some of the top instructors in the U.S. according to Ski magazine. They have a few ski camps that special in everything from telemark skiing to mogul skiing, and basic ski instruction camps. There is much for the children to do as well. A unique opportunity to snow tube is also available on this mountain. There is ski school for kids that are three years old and up including lunch, snack and play. There is also childcare including games, snacks lunch and nap time. The rates are $98 a day for lift tickets for adults, teen $81, child $61, seniors $61. (Check their site) There are many specials on their site you should check out as well including a free week of skiing in January!

Ski Apache

And now to the other end of the state. Ski Apache is in the southern part of the state. In fact it is the southernmost ski resort in North America. Just outside the quaint southwestern town of Billy the Kid in Ruidoso. There are 55 trails (20% beginner, 35% intermediate, 45% advanced) There are 11 lifts 1 Gondola, 2 quads, 5 triples, 1 double and 2 surface. Snowboarding and skiing are allowed on entire acreage. Ski and snow board instruction is offered here for children from 4 years of age thru adults. No child care is available for younger ages except in Ruidoso. Check out the site to find them. Ski Apache also has a disabled ski program. (Check out the site for this as well) base elevation is 9,600 and top elevation is 11,500. Lift ticket prices vary and so should be checked on the site.

Pajarito Mountain

This little gem is just north of Los Alamos and south of Taos. It is called New Mexico’s best kept skiing secret. So don’t tell too many people. This is truly a place to ski unencumbered and uncrowded. Pajarito Mountain has five chair lifts, ski school, ski equipment rentals, a cafeteria and a day lodge. There is 1 quad chair lift, 1 triple chair lift, and 3 double lift and 1rope tow. There are 37 major named trails and 280 ski able areas. The trails are 20% Easy; 50% Intermediate; 30% Most Difficult. Lift ticket prices range from $49 for all lifts and $25 for beginner lifts. Teens (ages 13 17). Children under 6 are free and so are seniors over 75!!! There are lessons for Alpine skiing, Telemark skiing, and snowboarding. You must call to get the specifics.

Sipapu Ski Resort

Family owned and operated since 1952, Sipapu is a small, family oriented ski and summer resort in an intimate setting offering modest prices. Nestled in the Sangre de Christo Mountains along the Rio Pueblo, Sipapu is surrounded by the Pecos Wilderness and the Carson National Forest. 22 miles southeast of Taos, New Mexico,
Sipapu offers short lift lines and varied terrain for downhill skiing, snowboarding, and cross-country skiing. Sipapu offers private and group snowboarding and skiing lessons for both adults and children. The base elevation is 8,200 feet. Peak elevation is 9,255 ft. The amount of ski able acreage is 70 acres. There are 31 named trails. There are a few expert trails but the majorities seem to be intermediate or easy. There are two triple chair lifts and two platter lifts. The lift ticket prices are adults all day for $45 children 12 and under (on all lifts) $39, children (only using smaller lifts $29 and seniors. Half day tickets are also available.

Enchanted Forest

Open 7 days a week 9am to 4:30pm Enchanted Forest offers 33km of 12 - 16 ft wide groomed trails for both classic and freestyle skiing and 15km devoted to snowshoes, as well as 5km of trails to ski with your dog, and access to miles and miles of backcountry trails. Enchanted Forest is located just 3 miles east of Red River, NM on NM highway 38 in the Carson National Forest. A short 45-minute drive from Taos NM, and just 2 hours from Santa Fe, NM and Alamosa, CO. 3 hours from Albuquerque NM and Colorado Springs, Co. Enchanted Forest offers the best of all worlds - stunning mountain vistas along meandering forest trails for both skiing and snowshoeing, that have a back country feel in a groomed, signed and patrolled area. solitude of a forest. The areas are marked with level of difficulty. The prices are for adults, children (under 12) teens, and seniors all day passes are $18, $15, $9.

Red River

Another Family run and instituted resort. Red River is situated south of Taos in the area called the Enchanted Circle which has numerous sites from historical New Mexico to see.
Red River, New Mexico began life as an old western gold and silver mining town, in existence for over 100 years. By 1895 Red River City was a booming gold camp and had a population of 3,000 people, complete with 15 saloons, four hotels, two newspapers, a barbershop, a hospital, a school, a sawmill and an active red light district. After the gold and silver played out in the 1930s, Red River was revived in the 1940s after the Dust Bowl era as a summer mountain retreat to escape Texas’ blistering heat. Here you will see in the lodge and surroundings an era gone by of the 1950’s
The ski area is mainly for families. There are 58 trails. 30% is beginner, 38% intermediate, and 32% advanced. So all can have a good time. There are 4 double chair lifts, 3 triple chair lifts, and 1 surface tow. The base elevation is 8,750, and the peak is 10,350 ft. There are lessons available for everyone from the beginner skier to the snowboarder to the intermediate and advanced skier. There is a great children’s programs for 4 years and up that include indoor and outdoor activities. They have some great ski packages including lodging (Check out the site) Winter tubing is also available at specific times in the winter. (Check the site)
A unique winter experience the Snow Coach Dinner Tour will exceed all your expectations! Simply the best food in Red River prepared by Chef Kai awaits you at elevation 10,350. This cozy mountain experience is a "must do" while you are in Red River!

Angel Fire

Angel Fire is probably the most sophisticated resort in New Mexico. It offers a lot of options for skiers and snowboarders alike. There are terrain parks for the boarders and 67 trails for the skiers. (31% beginner, 48% intermediate, 21% advanced) It is also the only resort in NM with high speed quad chair lifts. They have 2 high speed quads and 3 doubles. Night skiing is also unique at this resort. In March 2004 the USASA championships will be held at Angel Fire. This is the largest snowboarding event of the year. Angel Fire Resort is about 40 minutes from Taos. Ski school is available for various levels of skiers and snowboarders. Children’s ski school is a new addition to the resort where 4 year olds and older can spend the day learning skiing or snowboarding in a “kid friendly’ environment. This resort also offers Ski and Snowboard School Adaptive Snow sports Program for the snow sport enthusiasts with special needs. Angel Fire offers spectacular lodging facilities at its lodge or condominiums. Fine dining is also available here. Lift tickets are offered as a number of packages (check out the site). With all these options for snow sports in New Mexico, I hope on your next visit to the land of Enchantment you kick up a little of the white stuff and breathe in the clean New Mexico mountain air.