Though Colorado is known for fantastic skiing, and is consistently ranked as one of the top destinations for winter recreation, New Mexico’s ski resorts are lesser known, which means they are less expensive, and don’t require infinite patience to navigate the lift lines.
New Mexico is a haven for powder enthusiasts. The dry climate combined with high elevation generates light, fluffy, dry snow. New Mexico has skiing conditions that occasionally warrant a t-shirt, with over three hundreds days of sunshine per year.
Ski conditions vary from year to year. Our season is completely dependent on the El Niño/La Niña weather cycles. These cycles influence the jet stream, which impacts whether winter storms pass through southern Colorado into Texas or dip further south into New Mexico. Our drought forecast is largely determined by spring. Good snow pack in the southern Rockies bodes well for the region’s water supply.
New Mexico Ski Resorts
10 Miller Lane
Angel Fire, NM 87710
Angel Fire Resort is thirty minutes east of Taos. The base village sits at 8,600 ft and is host to multiple restaurants, ski rentals and ski schools. The 560-acre resort features an abundance of trails, with terrain parks and excellent tree skiing. They host the annual Shovel Racing World Championship.
The resort is equipped to accommodate skiers and riders of all ages and abilities, with several beginner and intermediate runs. The Angel Fire Nordic Area offers miles of cross country and snow shoe trails.
HC 75 Box 66
Chama, NM 87520
When the winter weather conditions are favorable, most of the public lands near Chama have groomed trails available for some form of winter use, whether snow shoeing, cross country skiing, ice fishing, etc. Many trails are open to snow mobiles. Equipment is available for rent in Chama at very reasonable prices.
Ski Chama hosts the cross country Chama Chile Ski Classic in mid-January.
Enchanted Forest focuses on cross country skiing and snow shoeing rather than downhill. They offer miles of groomed, 12 – 16 foot wide trails for both classic and freestyle skiing. Eight miles of trail are devoted to snowshoes and a couple of miles are dog friendly.
Enchanted Forest is three miles east of Red River, 2 hours from Santa Fe, and 3 hours from Albuquerque.
397 Camp May Road
Los Alamos, NM 87544
(505) 662 5725
Depending on the year and the whimsy of Mother Nature, Pajarito can be an overlooked gem. They are located on an eastern slope of the Jemez mountains. When snow is plentiful, the resort becomes a powdery wonderland, with beautiful views of the Rio Grande Valley.
Pajarito is northwest of Santa Fe, near Los Alamos. The resort is at 10,440 foot elevation. There is a 1,440 foot vertical drop, with over three hundred acres of skiable terrain available. Normally their season runs from Christmas to early April.
The Valle Caldera is fairly close to Pajarito. The 13-mile wide volcanic caldera offers spectacular terrain for cross country skiing, as well as a limited number of camping permits. When they have enough snow, they offer horse drawn sleigh rides, which makes for a splendid Christmas or Valentine’s Day gift.
400 Pioneer Road
Red River, NM 87558
Red River Ski Area is a short drive from Angel Fire and Taos. Red River makes getting to the slope ridiculously easy, with a chair lift heading up the mountain from Main Street. The terrain is mostly beginner and intermediate slopes. Though not as challenging as Taos, Red River ski area offers affordable vacation packages for families. For cross country sking or snow shoeing, Enchanted Forest is three miles from Red River.
Sandia Peak ski area is New Mexico’s oldest ski area and offers beginner and intermediate skiers and snowboarders some long cruisers. The Sandias don’t always get enough snow to open the area, but when the powder hits, weekends get crowded. Located on top of the mountain, next to Albuquerque, Sandia Peak Ski Area is possibly the nation’s easiest ski resort to access from a major city. The Sandia Tram is the quick ride. The aerial tram rises more than 4,000 vertical feet to the top of the mountain in less than 20 minutes. The top of the ski lift is a few hundred feet away from the tram. You can literally hop off the tram at the top, put on skis and head down the mountain.
Home to the longest ski season in New Mexico, Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort offers mountain terrain perfect for all skill levels. From green and blue groomed cruisers to the steeps and powder stashes found above Lift 1, this mountain has something for everyone.
Sipapu is south of Angel Fire, near historic Chimayo. The resort is family friendly and mroe affordable than Taos, Angel Fire or Red River. They provide free lift tickets and there usually isn’t a wait.
Located in Mescalero, on the slopes of Sierra Blanca, Ski Apache is owned and operated by the Mescalero Apache Tribe. It is the only ski resort in New Mexico with a gondola lift. Popular runs include Apache Bowl, an intermediate run on the upper west side of the mountain known for wide, open space, and breathtaking views. Capitan, a steep, intimidating pitch that drops 475 feet and the Gondola Liftline, a steep and narrow advanced run that runs from the top of the mountain to the main lodge. The beginner run, Snow Park, is known for being one of the most difficult beginner runs in the world, steeper than some blues at the resort.
1920 1/2 U.S Highway 82
Cloudcroft, NM 88317
Ski Cloudcroft is in the Lincoln National Forest, close to Alamogordo. The resort is 9,000 feet above sea level, often with ski conditions conducive to a t-shirt. They are affordable compared to other resorts and less crowded than some of the more the prestigious ski areas. Cloudcroft is a good alternative for families looking for a getaway without congestion on the lift lines.
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Ski Santa Fe has the perk of being located above Santa Fe, a town consistently ranked as a top vacation destination. For winter visitors, this offers the opportunity to ski all day and to enjoy world class cuisine at night. With so many world class restaurants, museums and galleries nearby, Santa Fe Ski Area is New Mexico’s Aspen (Taos would be New Mexico’s Vail…maybe it is the other way around. Any thoughts?)
Ski Santa Fe is above 12,000 feet, with a 1,725 foot vertical drop, 77 trails, and 225 inches of average annual snowfall. Ski Santa Fe has a range of terrain, from isolated beginner slopes to lots of cruisers, some long bump runs, great glades and tree runs and even a few short chutes and small bowls. Big Tesuque run is a powder hound’s delight that ends on a luge-like forested trail. Hitch back up or park a second vehicle at the turn-out.
Taos Ski Valley, NM 87525