Northern New Mexico Ski Areas

Date February 1, 2013 at 1:14 PM

Categories Outdoors & Recreation

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Northern New Mexico has some of the best skiing in the Southwest, with powdery trails, sun-soaked days and gorgeous vistas of the Rockies. Snowbirds flock to the region to ski and snowboard some of the best slopes in the country, choosing from European-style resorts to family-friendly ski areas that offer a host of other outdoor activities and events.

Whether you're an alpine skier, a snowboarder, a cross-country skier, or a telemarker you'll thrill to the unique mountains and ski trails of the area. There's something for every winter enthusiast, including snowshoeing, sledding, tubing, freestyle parks for hot doggers and more.

Here's a roundup of northern New Mexico's ski areas, with website links for more info. Remember that during the winter season, most ski areas offer specials and discounts on lodging, lift tickets, dining, rentals and more, so be sure to check those website for the latest deals.

Ski Santa Fe

Photo: Kyle Webb

Did you know that Ski Santa Fe is one of the highest ski areas in the country? With a summit elevation of12, 075 feet and a vertical drop of 1,725 feet, the ski area boasts amazing vistas, steep bumps, powder-filled chutes and gladed tree-skiing.

With seven lifts and 77 trails for skiers of all levels, Ski Santa Fe is a family-oriented ski area without the long lift lines you might encounter at other popular ski resorts. It also offers a certified Ski School, a Chipmunk Corner, Children's Center, Freestyle Terrain Park, including The Bone Yard and a Children's Adventure Land.

Ski Santa Fe receives an average snowfall of 225 inches and has the capacity to make snow on 50 percent of the mountain.

Ski Santa Fe also hosts seasonal events, including Beats on the Basin, a series of outdoor winter concerts on the deck at Totemoff's from moon until 3 p.m.

Taos Ski Valley

Back in the early 1950s, Ernie Blake, who then worked for the new Santa Fe Ski Basin, was searching for the perfect place to open his own ski resort. Flying over Taos one day, he spotted a huge snow basin north of Wheeler Peak, and the world-class Taos Ski Valley was born. Today, it's one of the few family-owned and operated ski resorts in the country. It's also one of the most challenging mountains in the Southwest, with powder shots, step chutes, glades and big bumps.

Taos has 113 trails and 14 lifts, with a summit e elevation of 11,819 feet and a vertical drop of 2,612 feet. The mountain offers a freestyle terrain park and a ski school services all levels. Taos Ski Valley receives an average of 305 inches of annual snowfall and has the capcity to make snow on 100 percent of beginner and intermediate slopes.

After years of allowing only downhill skiers, Taos opened to snowboarders in 2008. The ski area offers a busy calendar of events, including the Winter Wine Festival, Full Moon Snowshoe Tours and more. Click here for more info.

Red River Ski and Snowboard Area

An old gold mining town on the Enchanted Circle, Red River is known as the "Ski Town of the Southwest" and it's definitely built for skiers as the ski slopes run right in town . The area has a ski-through replica of an old mining camp along with three terrain parks and a ski school for skiers and snowboarders of all levels.

Red River's summit elevation is 10,350 feet with a vertical drop of 1,600 feet. The ski area has five lifts servicing 57 trails and snowmaking capacity to cover 85 percent of the runs. Red River receives an average annual snowfall of 18 feet. Click here for more info.

Angel Fire Resort

Located on the Enchanted Circle down the road from Red River, Angel Fire is a contemporary family-oriented ski resort, with lodging on the mountain as well as dining and shopping.

Angel Fire boasts 74 trails that include glade skiing, bumps and two freestyle parks, all serviced by six chairlifts. The mountain has a summit elevation of 10,677 feet and a vertical drop of 2,077 feet. The area receives an average of 210 inches of snowfall and has the snowmaking capacity to cover 52 percent of the mountain.

Angel Fire is the only ski area in northern New Mexico that offers night skiing. There's also Nascar racing, a ski and snowboard school, tubing and a Nordic center, featuring more than 15 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails, snowshoeing and sledding. Click here for additional info.

Sipapu Ski Resort

Sipapu has the longest ski season in New Mexico. Located 20 miles southeast of Taos, this family-friendly resort has been open since 1952. With a summit of 9, 255 feet and a vertical drop of 1,055 feet, the mountain is open to both skiers and snowboarders with 41 trails, three terrain parks and five lifts.

The average annual snowfall is 120 inches and the resort has the snowmaking capacity to cover 70 percent of the mountain.

Sipapu offers slopeside lodging that date to the resort's opening, including cabins, mobile homes and hotel and lodge rooms. There's also a calendar of events throughout the season that includes races, moonlight hikes and campfires, For more info, click here.

Pajarito

Skiing the slopes of Pajarito, on the east slopes of the Jemez Mountains above Los Alamos, you might feel as if you're gliding into the past. The 1950's past, to be precise. The area opened in the 1950s and it still feels that way.

Owned by the Los Alamos Ski Club. Pajarito is one of the northern New Mexico's best-kept secrets. It's small but because it's not very well known, there are never any lift lines or crowds. The views are spectacular and it's got some of the best bump skiing in the state, along with excellent glade skiing.

The mountain's summit elevation is 10,440 feet with a 14-foot vertical drop. Five chair lifts service 50 trails and a terrain park and the ski and snowboard school is open to all levels. Click here for additional info. 

Sandia Peak Ski and Tramway

Albuquerque's ski area and famous tram offer spectacular views of the city and some fine skiing. You can either drive up the mountain or take the tram, a 2.7-mile ride in a gondola car that takes you up steep terrain to the top of Sandia Peak, where you can dine at High Finance and look down over the city.

The mountain's peak elevation is 10, 378, feet with a vertical drop of 1,700 feet. Four lifts access 30 trails and the Scrapyard Terrain Park, with jumps, rails and more for beginners to intermediates. Sandia Peak also has a ski school for skiers and snowboarders.

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