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Fun in The Sun: New Mexico Is A Skier’s Paradise
New Mexico is home to some of the greatest ski slopes in America. The state’s southerly location and high mountains present a unique landscape for skiers and snowboarders who come from around the world to shred here. Whether you are looking for glitzy slopes and high-end dining or family-friendly mountains with great grooming and fun activities both on the slopes and off, you’ll find a trail to love in New Mexico. So, bring your board, bring your skis, and bring your sunblock – skiing in New Mexico offers unforgettable experiences.
Taos Ski Valley
The state’s most famous mountain is Taos Ski Valley. Located above the town of Taos, this mountain is legendary for its deep snow, steep runs, and ski history. Founded by legends of the sport, Taos draws skiers and snowboarders from around the globe. Classic and unspoiled, you will find 3,250 feet of vertical drop – that means it is one of the bigger ski areas in the United States – served by 15 lifts and 110 trails; in all the skiable terrain covers 1,294 acres. Besides the trails accessed straight from the lifts, Taos is famous for its hike-to terrain – from the top lift, sling your skis over your shoulder or strap them to your backpack and climb to world-famous chutes and bowls blanketed with untouched powder. Once back at the base area you’ll find restaurants, entertainment, and tons of activities. And while Taos draws a diverse and sophisticated clientele, the mountain has not forgotten its roots, and there is plenty of terrain here great for beginners and long cruisers which intermediates love to lap up.
Ski Santa Fe
Perched high over the city of Santa Fe, Ski Santa Fe rests atop a 12,000-foot peak, ensuring great snow and memorable views. There is 1,725 vertical feet of skiing here accessed by seven lifts which serve 74 trails covering 660 skiable acres. While the lower mountain is nestled in the forest, the upper slopes poke above the tree line – there’s something here for thrill-seeking experts and first-timers. Make sure to carve time out of your day to enjoy lunch in the lodge, where you can feast on New Mexico-style tacos and burritos.
Angel Fire has been a skiers’ favorite for ages – as one of the closet ski areas to the Lone Star state, it’s a mecca for Texans. On the mountain you’ll find a front side and a backside for plenty of variety. The mountain’s 2,077 vertical feet are served by seven lifts and 74 trails. The terrain covers 560 acres and you’ll find terrain parks, night skiing, tubing, and gladed skiing zones. The area also boasts an advanced snowmaking system to ensure the slopes are white even when the white stuff refuses to fall from the sky.
Ski Apache is a high-altitude area in far southern New Mexico. A wild access road winds up to the mountain, where runs overlook the desert far beyond. The mountain’s 1,900 vertical feet are served by 11 lifts, including a gondola, accessing 55 trails spread over 750 acres. Owned and operated by the Mescalero Apache tribe, the mountain is just 16 miles northwest of Ruidoso. Non-skiers are taken care of – the gondola is available to hikers and sightseers.
Historic Red River
Historic Red River melds Old West charm with gorgeous terrain. Rising from the town of Red River, the ski area boasts a 1,600-foot vertical drop. On the mountain you’ll find 7 lifts accessing 57 trails. Beginners are well-served by the wide-open slopes at the base of the mountain, while experts will want to stay up top, where steep runs wind among old-growth forest. In between, intermediates will find wide-open cruisers and snowboarders are kept happy with terrain parks filled with rails, table tops, and jumps.
Sandia Peak Ski Area
Overlooking Albuquerque from its one-of-a-kind location, Sandia Peak Ski Area is like no other place in the nation. There are two ways to get here – hop in the car and drive up the mountain, or take a dizzying tram ride all the way to the summit from the suburbs of the city. Once on the mountain you’ll find terrain for all abilities, though Sandia is best suited to beginners. The ski area covers 1,700 vertical feet on the shady east side of the mountain with trails braided through pine forest. Five lifts serve 39 trails spanning 200 acres.
Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort
One of the nation’s most beautiful ski areas is right here in New Mexico – Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort. Located just 20 miles southeast of Taos, this great family area is nestled among snow-draped trees overlooking miles of folded mountains. The mountain has 1,055 vertical feet of terrain and boasts 5 lifts, 41 trails, and 200 skiable acres.
America’s southernmost ski area, Ski Cloudcroft, occupies a mountain top high above the surrounding desert. Located right off U.S. Highway 82 and close to the city of Alamogordo, Cloudcroft has 700 vertical feet covered by two lifts, 25 trails, and 74 skiable acres. This resort is perfect for first-timers – the lifts are low and easy to get on and off, and the trails are wide-open and well-groomed. Prices are dirt-cheap, and crowds are non-existent. You will find rentals on the mountain and plenty of New Mexico sunshine reflecting off the snow.
Ride the lifts at Pajarito Mountain, and you might share a chair with a nuclear physicist. Pajarito is the home mountain to residents and employees at the nearby Los Alamos laboratory. Spanish for “little bird,” Pajarito’s location in the Jemez Mountains ensures great snow and a diversity of terrain. You’ll find great views over the Rio Grande Valley while slashing the area’s 1,240 vertical feet. In all there are six lifts, 40 trails, and 300 skiable acres. Though Pajarito is practically unknown outside of northern New Mexico, the skiing here is excellent and much bigger than many visitors expect.