A big mountain hug
Red River — with its western charm and laid-back vibe— is the classic ski town.
But before there were slopes and chairlifts, gold, silver and copper prospectors filled the streets and watering holes in the 1890s. Back then the town was called River City.
After about 30 years of mining, homesteaders replaced prospectors and the once thriving town was reborn as a retreat for flatlanders seeking refuge from the heat. In the late 1920s to early 1930s, Red River was coined as a “mountain playground.”
Settled in the Carson National Forest, high in the southern-most tip of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Red River separates itself from the commotion and congestion of bigger towns and cities. There are no traffic jams, no sirens, no pollution. Some folks swear by the silence of this mountain’s tranquility. On a winter’s night, they say, the air can be so hushed you can hear the sound of snow falling.
Red River has five sites on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Little Red School House Museum and four homestead cabins that survived the boom-to-bust mining era.
Red River is known as a family town where people can still spend a day in the parks and take walks in the woods. The people who live and work in Red River go out of their way to make you feel welcome. Hospitality and mountain magic are what make Red River shine.
Red River Ski & Summer Area’s seven lifts can transport nearly 8,000 skiers an hour, making the lift lines very short. And after a day on the slopes, enjoy the magic of Torchlight Parades (with fireworks) every Saturday, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve at 7 p.m.
The Terrain Park offers a variety of sculptured challenges shreddin’ the gnar from Snowcross to Pot O’ Gold on Gold Rush Hill and the more challenging Hollywood Terrain Park beneath the Platinum Chair.
Even more fun is waiting at the tubing hill.
Ski trails vary in difficulty from beginner runs to double black diamond dares that weave through steep, wooded terrain. Ski lessons are available. And if alpine skiing isn’t your thing, nearby Enchanted Forest Cross-Country Ski and Snowshoe Area provides more than 30 kilometers of groomed cross-country trails (enchantedforestxc.com). More than 90 percent of the lodging, restaurants and shops are within easy walking distance of the two main lifts.
Red River Ski & Summer Area’s most lauded fine-dining restaurant is the Ski Tip at the top of its mountain. When the lifts are running, hungry skiers and snowboarders head to “The Tip” to refuel before heading back out to the slopes.
After the lifts close, visitors can still have dinner at the Ski Tip Restaurant via a Snow Cat ride –– provided they have a reservation for a Snow Coach Dinner Tour. Snow Coach is scheduled to operate Thursday through Sunday. If you would like to book a tour Monday through Wednesday, the Guest Services office needs at least two days advanced notice. For more information and reservations, call (575) 754-2233 ext. 201 or 202 or visit redriverskiarea.com.
The newest hang out is Red River Brewing Company (redriverbrewing.com), the town’s first and only brewery, which opened in April. It recently won the New Mexico Brewery of the Year award by the New Mexico Restaurant Association. RRBC is not only a brewery, but a bar and full-service restaurant open for lunch and dinner seven days a week.
Opening day at Red River Ski & Summer Resort is Nov. 21. For more information, visit redriverskiarea.com, including lodging and lift ticket deals.
Season dates: Nov. 21-March 24
Average annual snowfall: 214 inches
Average days of sunshine: 300+
Number of trails: 63
30 percent expert
38 percent intermediate
32 percent beginner
Skiable acres: 209
Number of lifts: 7 total
2 double chairs
3 triple chairs
2 surface tows
Base elevation: 8,750 feet
Summit elevation: 10,350 feet
Vertical drop: 1,600 feet
Snowmaking: 85 percent of the mountain
Hours of operation: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. chairlifts, 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. office and rentals
24-hour ticket kiosks available at the base of the Platinum, Copper and Gold chairlifts
Information: (575) 754-2726; redriverskiarea.com
Nov. 21: Opening day; Dec. 14: Open daily
Nov. 22: Frozen Turkey Race, noon
Nov. 22: Switch on the Holidays, 7 p.m.
Nov. 24: Thanksgiving Rail Jam at Pot O’ Gold Terrain Park, competition 1 p.m.
Nov. 30-Dec. 2: Race & Skills Camp
Dec. 14-21; Jan. 1-15: College Days
Dec. 24: Torchlight Parade and Fireworks, 7 p.m.
Dec. 25: Ski and Ride with Santa, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Dec. 31: Old-Fashioned New Year’s Eve Party at the Historic Red River Community House, 7-10 p.m.
Dec. 31: Torchlight Parade and Fireworks, 7 p.m.
Jan. 19: Race the Face Snowmobile Hill Climb, 4 p.m.
Feb. 1-2: University of New Mexico Invitational (slalom races begin at approximately 9 a.m. both days)
Feb. 28-March 5: Mardi Gras in the Mountains
March 10-24: Spring Break
March 15-16: 3rd annual Comedy Club open mic competition
March 24: Closing Day and Pond Skim contest