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New Mexico's Slopes

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Family Adventure on the Slopes
New Mexico–find lots of snowtime fun in this land of many surprises...

 
    Rather than a mecca for skiers, many would imagine non-snowy desert, badlands, and rugged red-rock plateaus stretching for miles then dropping hundreds of feet into vast valleys and canyons. Heat comes to mind, not snow. But not only can you ski (or snowboard or snow-slide) in New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment, but the sport flourishes there.         
    New Mexico offers a wide range of skiing surprises and it’s also a great place for families to experience winter-time vacations.

Angel Fire Resort

Season: November 24, 1999 to April 2, 2000
Mountain Stats: base elevation, 8,600 ft.; peak elevation, 10,677 ft.; vertical drop, 2,077 ft.
Skiable acreage: 445 Average annual snowfall: 210 in.; snowmaking on 55% of trails.
Number of named trails: 68; 31% beginner, 48% intermediate, 21% advanced Longest trail: 3.2 miles.
Number of lifts: 6; 2 high-speed quads, 3 doubles, 1 surface.
More Information: 800-633-7463
www.angelfireresort.com  

    One of the most beautiful ski resorts in New Mexico, Angel Fire Resort is the place where snow angels must come to play.             
    The resort sits in the Moreno Valley, ancestral hunting ground of the Ute Indians, where the ancient ones worshiped the “angel’s fire,” a mysteriously pulsating red-orange sky that materialized at dawn and dusk.
    Years later, the famous scout/ cowboy/explorer Kit Carson de-termined that the fiery effect resulted from sunlight refracting through frost in the distant trees.
    While civilization in the Moreno Valley pre-dates written records, Angel Fire Resort can be traced back only to 1966; the city of Angel Fire ranks as New Mexico's youngest incorporated metropolis. A modern playground with condos, a full service hotel, indoor swimming, tennis courts, and summer golfing, Angel Fire boasts a particular claim to fame: it's the founding site of, and annual host to, the unusual Shovel Racing World Championships. Competitors sit on #10 Ames snow shovels and go for the gold at speeds of up to 40 MPH. This, no doubt, has to be seen to be fully appreciated, and the event usually takes place the first weekend of February.  
    Laid out on two faces of the mountain, the Angel Fire area boasts an average annual snowfall of 210 inches, with the ski area’s base elevation at 8,600 feet and the summit at 10,677 feet. Angel Fire Resort holds the state's only high-speed, detachable quad chair. The advanced skiing on the backside, as well as trails rich with twists, turns, and quirky terrain  make the area an experienced skier’s delight.
    Families can find plenty of activities at Angel Fire Resort. The new Children’s Ski and Snowboard Center, a modern 6,000 square foot facility, features a private ski-school yard for instruction and play where children can learn the basics of skiing without being in the way of the adult skiers. The Angel Fire Resort Day Care provides structured supervision, snow play, and creative activities for the young non-skiing or snowboarding members of the family.
    There’s always something new for families at Angel Fire, and this year is no exception with the introduction of the new Austrian snowbikes. The resort is the only ski area in New Mexico to offer this latest winter craze featuring snowbikes with skis (instead of wheels). Also, Angel Fire’s exclusive “Tube Zone,” a lighted tubing hill, is another activity that provides fun for the whole family.
The area, located near the Ski Schoolyard, is open nightly from mid-December through mid-March, and is reasonable in cost.

Ski Apache-Ruidoso

Season: November 25, 1999 to Early April 2000
Mountain Stats: base elevation, 9,600 ft.; peak elevation, 11,500 ft., vertical drop, 1,900 ft.
Skiable acreage: 750 Average annual snowfall: 183 in.; snowmaking on 33% of trails
Number of named trails: 55; 20% beginner, 35% intermediate, 45% advanced Longest trail: 2.5 miles Number of lifts: 11; 1 four-passenger gondola, 2 quads, 5 triples, 1 double, 2 surface
More Information: (505-336-4356)
www.skiapache.com
 
    Ski Apache, located on the sacred Sierra Blanca Peak and owned and operated by the Mesca-lero Apache tribe, offers some of the most spectacular views in New Mexico, as well as awesome skiing.
    Visitors see a vast and varied panorama–southwest to the soft, gleaming dunes of  White Sands National Monument; north to the green, jagged Jicarilla Mountains; west to the wrinkled, red-brown lava fields of Malpais National Monument; and, east to the sun dried tan desert expanses of the high plains. Ski Apache may be the only ski area in America where the view's compass points are color-coded.
    Set near the middle of the state just outside the horse racing town of Ruidoso, Ski Apache can easily be overlooked. But it has as many lifts as Taos (11), tops out at 11,500 feet, with a base elevation of 9.600 feet, and boasts New Mexico's only gondola. The area boasts an average annual snowfall of 185 inches.
    Ski Apache's Kiddie Koral Program for kids ages 4, 5, and 6 offers all day supervision with ski instruction, lunch, snacks and rest. Kiddie Koral has its own surface lift, terrain garden, and indoor facility. Group and private snowboard instruction is offered for children 7 years and older. For kids 6 years and younger, snowboard instruction is available on a private lesson basis.
    Ski Apache doesn’t offer slopeside lodging, but the nearby town of Ruidoso offers fine accommodations of every sort. The Inn of the Mountain Gods, also owned by the Mescalero Apache tribe, is a four-star resort that offers an unusual 18-hole golf course, fishing, gourmet dining, and casino gambling.
    Also, within reasonable driving distances, visitors can visit the Mu-seum of the Horse and the Smokey the Bear Memorial burial site and gift shop. The near-ghost town of Lincoln, which boasts the legend of Billy The Kid and the famed Tunstall Museum of western artifacts, is also within a half-hour’s drive. Ruidoso is located less than 3 hours from El Paso, and the re-sort is a great favorite with Texans.

Red River Ski Area

Season: November 25, 1999 to March 26, 2000.
Mountain stats: base elevation, 8,750 ft.; peak elevation, 10,350 ft.; vertical drop, 1,600 ft.
Skiable acreage: 290 Average annual snowfall: 252 in.; snowmaking on 85% of trails.
Number of named trails: 57; 32% beginner, 38% intermediate, 30% advanced Longest trail: 2.5 miles.
Number of lifts: 7; 2 triples, 4 doubles, 1 surface.
More Information: (505-754-2223)
www.taoswebb.com/nmusa/redriver
 
    They call the 84-mile, two-lane road that loosely rings the state's highest peak, 13,161-foot Mt. Wheeler, the Enchanted Circle. Skiers can travel this scenic circuit, combining ski time at Taos with visits to Red River and Angle Fire.
    Like many western ski towns, folks first came to Red River to mine gold. Now families come to ski.
    Red River boasts an annual snowfall of 252 inches, and offers 7 ski lifts. Lodging is available in the quaint, homey town of Red River. Just a few blocks long, the town presents a busy commercial district of family-owned, family-oriented motels, restaurants and shops. The ski slopes flow right to the streets, and long-time visitors claim the place conveys a certain festival appeal. A fanciful trolley that takes visitors up and down Main Street, super friendly people, and the annual skiers' Mardi Gras in the Mountains (ten days of partying, parades and playing dress-up) make Red River an attractive winter destination for non-skiers as well.  
    The ski and snowboard school at Red River offers lessons for all ages and desires. Red River's large staff of certified instructors can help skiers, snowboarders, and snow bladers from the first time, never-ever skier to kids who want to learn tricks in the terrain park. Special clinics are available throughout the season.
    Children and their parents enjoy a separate, full-service facility lo-cated on the slopes. The Children's program offers ski, snowboard, and snow blade lessons. Full day programs come with optional lunch. Child care is available for children aged four months to four years. Lunch and activities are provided. Both full-day and half-day programs are available.

Taos Ski Valley

Season: November 25, 1999 to April 9, 2000
Mountain stats: base elevation, 9,207 ft.; peak elevation, 11,819 ft.; vertical drop, 2,612 ft.
Skiable acreage: 1,100 Average annual snowfall: 320 in.; snowmaking on 98% of beginner and intermediate trails
Number of named trails: 72; 24%
beginner, 25% intermediate, 51% advanced Longest trail: 5.25 miles
Number of lifts: 12; 4 quads, 1 triple, 5 doubles, 2 surface
More Information: (505-776-2291)
www.skitaos.org

    Indeed, Taos offers as much as any skier could care to experience. Advanced skiers can hike up from the top of Kachina Lift and ski the bowl off Kachina Peak, or detour to a series of chutes and glades that depart the Highline Ridge at regular intervals, each a bit more memorable than the last.
    Located at 9,207 feet, Taos offers classic skiing, excellent facilities, great family programs and 320 inches of annual snowfall. The Taos ski area also offers on both sides of the mountain a selection of good intermediate ski runs.
    The 18,000 square foot Kinder-kafig Center houses Taos' children's ski school. The Junior Elite Program is for kids ages 3 to 12 and includes full-day lesson, lift ticket, lunch and rentals. Reservations are required for children kindergarten age or younger. Little ones must be potty trained. Kinderkare is an all-day program for infants and toddlers, ages six weeks to two years. The program includes two snacks, lunch and nap time. Half-day includes snack and either snow play or nap time. Reservations are required.
    If you have the urge for southwestern flavor stay in Taos, about a half-hour drive down the access road from the ski area. Complete with a colorful town plaza, dozens of cozy Bed & Breakfasts, good eateries, art galleries of all kinds, and a stone's throw from the famous Taos Pueblo, this is the place that got Georgia O'Keefe hooked on New Mexico.
    Note: Taos Ski Valley offers only skiing, no snowboarding.  Skiers must choose between lodging on the mountain or in town; the access road can be a laborious trip, particularly during the pre- and post-skiing rush hours.

Ski Santa Fe

Season: November 25, 1999 to April 9, 2000 (tentative)
Mountain stats: base elevation, 10,353 ft.; peak elevation, 12,003 ft.; vertical drop, 1,650 ft.
Skiable acreage:: 550 Average
annual snowfall: 225 in.; snow
making on 30% of trails
Number of named trails: 43; 20% beginner, 40% intermediate, 40%
advanced Longest trail: 3 miles
Number of lifts: 7; 1 quad, 1 triple, 2 doubles, 3 surface
More Information: 505-982-4429
www.skisantafe.com  

    Ski Santa Fe offers every conceivable form of downhill sliding terrain–from perfectly manicured intermediate runs and approachable bump runs, to wild, adrenaline-inducing slams and the winding, giggle-inducing, kids-only Adventure Land. Local moms
and dads drop off juniors for the day and college students rip it up after classes. But nearly half the area’s visitors arrive from as far away as Europe.
    The ski area is based at 10,300 feet and tops out at 12,300 feet, standing nearly 5,000 feet above the town of Santa Fe.  The average snowfall for Ski Santa Fe is 225 inches.
    Chipmunk Corner is Santa Fe's children's ski school with programs for kids 4 to 9 years old. Chipmunk Corner is an all-inclusive facility providing day care, ski lessons, snow play, rental shop, lunch room and rest rooms for kids. For lodging check out Santa Fe proper–a 20 minute drive from the ski area. Santa Fe is a bustling town and state capital that was founded 13 years before the Pilgrims landed on the east coast.         
    The city offers hundreds of gourmet restaurants, superb lodging, a healthy arts community, eight museums, and nineteen nearby authentic pueblos. Santa Fe is a unique combination of cultures and recreation.

Pajarito ñ Los Alamos

Season: Mid-December 1999 to mid-April 2000, depending on snow conditions, please call ahead Mountain stats: base elevation, 9,031 ft.; peak elevation, 10,441 ft.; vertical drop, 1,410 ft.
Skiable acreage: 280 Average annual snowfall: 125 in.; No snowmaking Number of named trails: 37; 20% beginner, 50% intermediate, 30% advanced Number of named trails: 2.5 miles
Number of lifts: 6; 1 quad, 1 triple, 3 doubles, 1 surface
More Information: 505-662-5725 www.skipajarito.com

     The Pajarito ski area is located just outside the town of Los Alamos, the place where the atom bomb was invented. The ski area was created by those folks who worked on the Manhattan Project back in the 1940s. The ski area also remains something of an anomaly because it operates only on weekends, on federal holidays and on Wednesdays (and on Wednesdays only two of the five lifts operate). The skiing itself is comprised of a series of short downhill blasts that drop off a ridge spanning the area's width.
    Located at 9,031 feet altitude, Pajarito sees an annual snowfall
of 125 inches. Pajarito's children's program offers group lessons for kids ages 5 and up. Never-ever ski classes are an option for beginners. The children's "Master the Mountain" program is popular for kids ages 7 to 12.  There are no child care facilities at Pajarito.

Sandia Peak

Season: December 17, 1999 to March 19, 2000 (tentative) Mountain stats: base elevation, 8,678 ft.; peak elevation, 10,378 ft.; vertical drop, 1,700 ft.
Skiable acreage: 200 Average annual snowfall: 125 in.; snowmaking on 15% of trails
Number of named trails: 30; 35% beginner, 55% intermediate, 10% advanced Longest trail: 2.5 miles Number of lifts: 6; 4 doubles, 2 surface, Sandia Peak Tramway services peak only
More Information: 505-242-9133
www.sandiapeak.com

    Sandia Peak is a day area just a few miles outside Albuquerque. With a 1,700-foot vertical drop and 200 acres of skiing, it's popular with locals. You get there either by driving half an hour from town around  to the backside and up; or, you can take the 10-to-15-minute drive to the western face and take the 50-person tram, a lift that sees more dinner-and-view tourists than skiers over the course of the year.
    Sandia's children's ski and snow-board school offers group and private lessons daily. Cubby Bear Corner, a ski school for children ages 4 to 6 years, offers a teaching environment with a surface lift, warming hut and rest rooms. Kids 7 to 12 have a separate program geared to their abilities and ages. The Recreation Racer Program is a ten week program where kids race in the New Mexico Fun Race Series. Sandia Peak does not offer a child care facility for non-skiers.

Sipapu


Season: December 16, 1999 to March 26, 2000 Mountain stats: base elevation, 8,200 ft.; peak elevation, 9,065 ft.; vertical drop, 865 ft.
Skiable acreage:: 40 Average annual snowfall: 110 in.; snowmaking on 45% of trails
Number of named trails: 20; 20% beginner, 60% intermediate, 20% advanced
Number of lifts: 3;1triple, 2 surface
More Information: 505-587-2240
www.sipapunm.com/paradise

    The Sipapu ski area is located in the midst of the Pecos Wilderness and the Carson National Forest about 22 miles southeast of Taos. The word Sipapu means Land of Paradise or Spirit Place in the Tewa language. A small family-owned, family-oriented, and somewhat old-fashioned place, folks have skied here since 1952.
    Currently, there are 19 trails, an 865-foot vertical drop and lodging for 175 people. Skiers are served by three lifts–two surface tows and a chair. Sipapu offers alpine, telemark and cross-country skiing and snowboarding lessons for adults and children. There are special programs for children and child care can be arranged by calling ahead. d



–by Sharon Galligar Chance


 

 

Where is Alyx?


Alyx is near the 10,677-ft elevation of this Ski Resort offering awesome views and super ski slopes. Where is she? Click here to find out.

Tips, Tricks & Tactics

Camping the Great Outdoors
...ideas to consider

   "Since that first camping trip, all of our trips have been only partially planned, with itineraries set more as ideas than as fixed schedules.  We usually take each day one at a time, and do whatever feels right for that particular day.  Slowing down to smell the roses has never been so sweet as when we travel with our two kids!"  -- David, Westminster, MD

 Take it from David, there's a time to plan and a time to take one day at a time.

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