This Spring Break Go to Snow Ski New Mexico
By Janis Turk
Looking for the vacation of a lifetime, one your family will never forget? Why not go to snow? Yes, even during Spring Break, into late March, snow is falling not far from Texas, so if your kids have never seen it, or you and your honey just need a little snuggle time by a fireplace or a mountaintop experience at a ski resort, why not head to the mountains this year?
New Mexico is the perfect snow ski destination, winter through spring, because San Antonio folks can drive away from the Alamo City in the morning and be at a ski resort by supper time. Ruidoso, New Mexico, is fewer than nine hours away by car, so it’s a great drive-to destination offering affordable family-friendly options for skiers and those who simply want to see snow.
Ruidoso’s Ski Apache is the first big ski resort you’ll come to in New Mexico when leaving Texas. There, 11,400 feet above sea level, near the top of the Sierra Blanca Peak (the highest peak in the southern Rocky Mountains), this popular resort rests on land within the Lincoln National Forest and is operated by the Mescalero Apache Tribe’s Inn of the Mountain Gods. It’s a fabulous place for first-time skiers and pros alike.
Drive a little farther, just above Albuquerque, and even more snow and ski options are available, including the Sandia Peak Ski Area, only a 45-minute drive from the Albuquerque metro area. Located in the Sandia Foothills, Sandia Peak Ski & Tram has been selected by Vacation Home Rentals as the “Best Family Attraction” in New Mexico.
Northeast of Albuquerque, snow lovers also enjoy the beauty of Santa Fe.*-
A popular destination for Texans year-round, it’s even a bigger draw each winter and spring when visitors can enjoy not only the beauty, culture, art, architecture and cuisine of this historic city with its 400-year-old main plaza, but they can also make the town their base for a ski and snow sports vacation. With affordable hotel options in town, and with condos and ski resort options all along the road up the mountain to Ski Santa Fe, there are so many ways to enjoy a great snow and ski vacation in Santa Fe — even during Spring Break.
Not far from Santa Fe rests the delightful little village of Taos and the Taos Ski Valley. On the mountain just above Taos there are a number of other popular ski resorts, too, including Angel Fire, Red River, Sipapu, Taos Ski Valley and Enchanted Forest Cross Country Ski Area. Mix it up in one of these snowy spots with snowboarding, tubing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and indoor skating, or just sit by the fire in one of Taos’ fabulous hotel resorts and enjoy a hot tub in the snow.
Where to go?
Ski Apache: Set 11,400 feet above sea level, near the top of Sierra Blanca, Ski Apache offers 750 acres of skiable terrain, over 55 trails. Since 1961, people have been making the trek to enjoy some of the Southwest’s best snow here, and with an average of 15 feet of snowfall per year, it’s easy to count on good powder for skiing. This place can service 16,500 skiers and boarders per hour and features a new passenger gondola. Ski Apache has a Ski and Snowboard school to help first-time snow skiers get ready to hit the intermediate runs right away. Already a pro? Here 45 percent of the runs are rated as advanced. Snow boarders can go anywhere in the ski area and will want to check out “The Boneyard,” Ski Apache’s terrain park featuring five standard boxes, one rainbow box, three flat rails, a flat down rail, an A-frame rail and a battleship rail.
Ski Santa Fe: With a base elevation of 10,350 feet, Ski Santa Fe is the launching point for a super ski experience just 16 miles from downtown Santa Fe, a city rich in culture, fine arts and exceptional cuisine. Ski Santa Fe offers 79 trails, sees an average of 225 inches of snowfall annually, and features 600 acres of stunning terrain with 1,726 vertical feet of skiing. Best of all, back in town, guests can enjoy some of Santa Fe’s 200 restaurants, stunning art galleries, shops and spas while staying in luxury hotels, condos, B&Bs or family inns. Our favorite place to stay? La Fonda on Main on the plaza. We also love to spend an afternoon at the Ten Thousand Waves luxury spa.
Taos Ski Valley: Surrounded by stunning wilderness, and infused with the cultures of the Native Pueblo, Hispanic and European peoples who have defined it, Taos Ski Valley is steeped in legend and mystique. Stay in the cabins on the mountain at Taos Ski Valley or in town at one of the lovely hotel properties in the area, such as El Monte Sagrado or even a bit outside town at the luxurious El Rancho de San Juan near Espanola.
Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort: New Mexico’s year-round destination for family-friendly fun is located on Highway 518, just 20 scenic miles southeast of Taos and 34.1 miles from historic Chimayo. The resort is easy to access, as Highway 518 is paved, plowed and was built to be extra wide for easy snow-season travels. There is also a free Blue Bus service to and from Taos, making a trip to Sipapu even more convenient.
Angel Fire Resort: Winter or summer, play on the downhill slopes of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in northern New Mexico. With an average snowfall of 210 inches, Angel Fire draws skiers, snowboarders, sledders, tubers, shoppers and snowman builders. Learn a new sport or improve your skills with highly trained ski and snowboard instructors at the Angel Fire Resort ski area. Night skiing and a wide variety of winter sports are also available. Take the Polar Bear Plunge into Eagle Nest Lake, enter the Shovel Race, and enjoy Super Bowl, Mardi Gras or Spring Break celebrations. Weekend activities and ski and snowboard races are held here, too. Also enjoy cross-country skiing, glade skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobile rides, horse-drawn sleigh rides, or simply read a good book fireside while the snow falls.
Pajarito Mountain Ski Area: Located on the eastern edge of the Jemez Mountains in north central New Mexico, 5 miles west of Los Alamos, Pajarito offers 750 acres of land owned by the Los Alamos Ski Club, which developed it as a ski area in the late 1950s. Pajarito Mountain currently has about 300 acres of cleared skiable terrain, as well as some exciting tree-filled ski runs, and offers some of the best bump skiing in the state. This ski area is rarely crowded and is noted for its lack of lift lines.There is no lodging at the mountain, but there are several hotels and other lodging options available in Los Alamos and Santa Fe.
Red River Ski & Summer Area: Set in the Southern Rockies, just north of Taos, in the middle of Red River, this ski area offers winter and summer fun for everyone near the former little gold rush boomtown of Red River, with its tiny population of fewer than 500 residents. Surrounded by the Carson National Forest, this is one of New Mexico’s most idyllic spots for nature lovers and skiers alike.
Sandia Peak Ski Area: Just a 45-minute drive from the Albuquerque metro area, here visitors will find Sandia Peak’s certified snow sports school, a complete rental shop, a skiers’ cafe and the Sandia Peak Sports Shop. The 2.7-mile trip on the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway transports guests above deep canyons and scenic terrain. The vantage point from the observation deck atop the 10,378-foot Sandia Peak in the Cibola National Forest affords an 11,000-square-mile panoramic view of the Rio Grande Valley and the Land of Enchantment. The area is also home to the New Mexico Ski Museum and Hall of Fame.