Zipping Down the Hill Speeds Up the Fun
Snow days can be an interruption, a bother, a halt to carefully made plans. They don't have to be, though.
Properly handled, snow days -- when school is canceled and work is late and parents have to adjust schedules to provide child care -- ought to be a gift.
Because once the snow has fallen and school has been canceled but the roads are plowed, the entire family can jump in the car or walk to a steep park and take time out for fun.
That's why tubing or sledding is such a great winter activity. Either is relatively cheap, doesn't require training and offers the opportunity for adults and children to spend quantities of quality time together.
In Santa Fe, whenever school is canceled, you'll see kids taking to the parks with their sleds. The slide might not be steep, but there's still a rush going down.
If the roads are clear, you also will see parents driving their kids up Ski Basin Road, where opportunities to park the car and sled to your heart's content abound.
Whether in town or out, winter is the perfect time to blast away down the slopes -- no ski lift lines, no pricey tickets -- just an adventuring spirit taking a spin on an inner tube or a sled.
About seven miles up Ski Basin Road, the Black Canyon Campground is a great spot to take younger kids to play in snow. It has small, gentle hills for tubing and sledding. The Forest Service campground is closed for camping during winter, but is open for snow play. Watch for hazards and frolic at your own risk.
Just past Black Canyon Campground is Hyde Memorial State Park, which has one of the best sledding and tubing hills close to town. The hill is behind the main lodge in the same spot where Santa Fe's first ski area was once located.
For snowshoeing, the Circle Trail winds around the perimeter of the park through an evergreen forest to a great scenic overlook of the Rio Grande Valley. The trailhead is across the road from the main lodge.
The state park charges $5 for parking. Cottam's, the nearby ski shop, often has gear available to rent or buy.
About 12 miles up Ski Basin Road is the Big Tesuque Campground, a Forest Service campground that's a popular spot for sledding, tubing, snowman making and snowball throwing.
Some places to slide in Carson National Forest are U.S. Hill on N.M. 518 between Peñasco and Taos and at Forest Service campgrounds along N.M. 518 near the Sipapu Ski Area.
The following ski areas have designated snow-play areas for kids (or your inner child):
Angel Fire Resort has its Polar Coaster tubing hill that features a 1,300-foot-long slide with three tubing lanes and a Magic Carpet lift to the top of the hill. Call 800- 633-7463. It's lit for night tubing as well. Tickets are $20 for a 90-minute block.
The Red River Ski Area offers tubing sessions after skiing is done for the day, with the first session at 4:15 p.m. Cost is $10 per session. Call 575-754-2223.
Taos Ski Valley offers tubing from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday-Saturdays during the ski season. Fee is $7. Call 800-347-7414.