By Scott Gerdes
The New Mexico ski resort known for the earliest opening and latest closing dates will have some new looks this winter.
Due to a fire that nearly destroyed a nine-unit complex just six days before Christmas last year, the resort has gone under renovation. The historic lodge, with a 2,141-square-foot addition on the west side, now boasts a new rental shop, as well as modern ticket kiosks, a locker room, more retail and gathering space, a brand-new grand entryway, office space and ground-floor bathrooms.
The resort has also begun another significant construction project that will add 34 rooms, bringing the total number of units up to about 68.
Again this winter, Sipapú was the first New Mexico resort to turn on the snowmaking machines and crank up the chairlifts for a Nov. 11 opening day. Giving skiers the longest season in the state, Sipapú is the first to open slopes for the 15th straight year.
Just 20 miles southeast of Taos, surrounded by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and Carson National Forest, the resort has 41 trails, six lifts and three terrain parks. On-site amenities include slope-side lodging, a full-service ski shop, ski school, as well as riverside dining experience at the Riverside Café and Paradise Riverside Bar and Grill.
Sipapú’s first quad chairlift was installed in 2015. It serves beginner and intermediate trails.
Also under the quad lift, a trail was blazed and mountain crews completed the much-anticipated Howdy Extension that summer, adding nearly 5 acres of skiable terrain.
In conjunction with Pajarito Mountain Ski Area, located near Los Alamos 70 miles southwest of Taos, the ski areas sell the “New Mexico Power Pass,” the only season pass in the state to offer unlimited skiing and snowboarding at two mountains, plus bonus days at more than 20 partner mountains across New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and throughout the country.
Lloyd Bolander, founder of New Mexico’s Sipapú Ski and Summer Resort, is heralded as a true New Mexico pioneer. Raised in Peñasco, New Mexico, Bolander began skiing as a toddler on a wooded hillside near Taos.
In 1950, with his wife, Olive, he bought 13 acres of Río Pueblo property in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, intending to live a sustainable lifestyle. In 1952, they installed a 100-foot portable rope tow and opened for business. Lift tickets were 50 cents. It was the first lift-served ski area in the state.
Sipapú is a word used by ancient cultures that refers to portals, which mark a place where their ancestors came to consciousness or “a place of emergence.”
Lloyd Bolander died in 2014. The Bolanders were inducted into the New Mexico Ski Hall of Fame in 2004.
For 17 years, the resort has been owned by James Coleman, who Outside Magazine dubbed the “ski king of the Southwest.” His company owns four other resorts in New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona, including the Pajarito Mountain Ski Area.
Located just 20 miles southeast of Taos near Vadito, Sipapú Ski and Summer Resort has long been known for its family-friendly amenities, affordability and an old-school, low-key style. And they aren’t kidding. Sipapú is the classic spot for family time. It’s a place where your kids won’t get lost, and it’s perfect for skiers and boarders of all skill levels. The accommodations are clean and simple (no in-room TVs or phones — Sipapú believes families should connect with each other, not over their electronics, although cable TV is available in the lodge and cell service is usually available throughout the property). Please note that sledding and tubing are not offered at Sipapú, but some good hills are just minutes away.
For more information, go online to sipapunm.com or call (800) 587-2240.
Season dates: Nov. 11-early April
Average annual snowfall: 190 inches
Average days of sunshine per year: More than 300
Trails (41 total): 20 percent beginner, 40 percent intermediate, 25 percent advanced, 15 percent expert
Terrain parks: Three
Lifts (six total): One quad chair, two triple chairs, one platter lift, two magic carpets
Base elevation: 8,200 feet
Peak elevation: 9,255 feet
Vertical drop: 1,055 feet
Hours of operation: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Information: (800) 587-2240; sipapunm.com
Sipapú Christmas Eve Party, 5-8 p.m.
Telemark Festival, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
King of the Hill Terrain Park Competition, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
USASA Southwest Freeride Slopestyle Competition, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
February Fun Fest
15th Annual Cardboard Derby, 9 a.m.-noon
14th Annual Pond Skimming Contest, 1-3 p.m.