Sunsets that make your soul soar with views that leave you breathless
by Ellen Miller-Goins
ANGEL FIRE SITS on the other side of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains from Taos, in the Moreno Valley. One origin story of how Angel Fire got its name is credited to Plains Indians because of the lightning and the St. Elmo’s fire that illuminated the surrounding peaks.
Another legend says it was named by the Moache Utes who gathered there to renew their ancestral ties with the Great Spirit – whom they saw as the sun’s rays that danced upon a mountain peak or the “fire of the gods.” The local lore further notes that nomadic Franciscan friars Christianized the Ute name into “breath of angels.” Frontiersman Kit Carson is often credited with changing the name to Angel Fire in 1845.
Local author Ellen Miller-Goins writes that “visitors soon appreciate what ‘Angel Fire’ means the first time they witness a sunset, “One of those spectacles of red, orange, violet, pink, gray, white and blue — so magic your smartphone cannot capture its spirit and you end up wishing you had brought your paints.”
Angel Fire is cool, comfortable, even tranquil in the summer, but opportunities for fun are plentiful with summer art/farmers’ markets, shopping, birding, wildlife tours, horseback rides, sightseeing at nearby ghost towns and so much more.
What to do
In accordance with COVID-19 precautions, Angel Fire Resort offers state-mandated physical distancing and limited group sizes in activity and food venues.
Angel Fire’s renowned par 72, 6,653-yard, 18-hole golf course is open, as is the redesigned PDGA Approved Disc Golf 18-hole course located at Agua Fria Peak via the Chile Express chairlift.
Scenic chairlift rides uplift the weariest travelers and the fitness and tennis centers keep holiday athletes humming, as does the playground at Olympic Park. Monte Verde Lake is a hugely popular site to hike, fish, boat or relax on shore. The swimming pool, kids climbing wall and Euro-Bungy Jumper were not open at press time.
Those looking for a bit more adventure can get fishing, bait and other equipment for a family fish fry. The lake is stocked with rainbow lake trout throughout the summer.
The top-rated Angel Fire Bike Park reopened in June this year. Angel Fire maintains more than 100 miles of downhill and cross-country trails for all ability levels that also tie into the National Forest trail network, including the popular South Boundary Trail.
The Rocky Mountain Zipline Adventure Tour with Family Flyer offers two ziplines that include younger kids who don’t weigh enough, a chance to experience the excitement of mountain-top ziplining. Those weighing 90 pounds and above can have the full six-line tour. The tour is the second highest elevation zipline tour in the U.S. and the largest in New Mexico.
For a little more down-to-earth adventures, try the Greenbelt free-access trail system where you can mountain bike, run, hike or horseback ride. The trails are located around the village of Angel Fire.
At 8,382 feet, Angel Fire Airport is the fifth-highest airport in the continental U.S. and the highest in New Mexico. The 8,900-by-100-foot runway handles smaller planes and private jets. Landing and taking off can be tricky, so check the precautions and safety tips posted online for pilots’ perusal.
Farmers market and dining
The ever-popular Sunday Morning Art and Farmers Market is back on this year, June through Sept. 6, at Frontier Park in the heart of Angel Fire. This weekly showcase features a diverse selection of local and regional artists, great live music, food artisans and fresh produce.
Commonly found at the market are fresh regional produce, Hatch green chile roasted on the spot, farm fresh eggs, local meat and dairy products, artisanal bread and baked goods, raw honey and much more. The market provides resources and opportunities to help grow small endeavors and provides a meeting place for a vibrant local community. For dining opportunities, see the Angel Fire Dining sidebar.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Angel Fire is home to the nation’s first monument to honor veterans of the Vietnam War. Located on U.S. Highway 64, just north of Angel Fire, only the grounds and chapel are open at the memorial, due to New Mexico COVID-19 precautions. Do call ahead to verify what may have changed since press time. See vietnamveteransmemorial.org or call (575) 377-2293.
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Despite temporary COVID-19 closures, many venues are reopening.
• Buildings may now operate at 50 percent of standard occupancy, with dine-in and patio maximums of 6 per table.
• Angel Fire Bike Park reopened to the general public June 5 through Aug. 16. As of press time the park is open for day tickets to ride seven days a week. Tickets are not available online, however, they must be purchased in person at the Lift Ticket office in the Chile Express base area.
• When visiting the Angel Fire Bike Park, practice social distancing techniques while traveling and upon arrival.
• Special attention to sanitizing and minimizing risks are the operators’ main concerns and commitment to keeping visitors and locals safe.
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Angel Fire Golf Course
Open – to book a tee time, call (575) 377-4488
Angel Fire Sunday Art and Farmers Markets
Through September, weather permitting, in Frontier Park
Angel Fire Studio Tour
Sept. 26-27, 2020
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The Lift Café
Daily, 7 a.m.-4 p.m.’ Lobby, lodge at Angel Fire Resort; (575) 377-4234
Starbucks coffee, freshly baked goods, breakfast and lunch daily. Grab a homemade breakfast burrito (a local favorite), gourmet melt, wrap or a salad. Beer and wine also available.
Thursday-Monday 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Across from Chile Express; (575) 377-4234
Fresh Mex taqueria and Mexican-themed bar located across from the Chile Express and the Angel Fire Resort base area. Serving a variety of delicious tacos and burritos and a great selection of cocktails, tequilas, tap and bottled beers and more in a fun, chill atmosphere
Elements Fine Dining
Tuesday-Saturday 4-9 p.m., Angel Fire Resort Country Club upper level; (575) 377-3055
Elements at the Country Club offers fine dining in a casual but spacious setting. Elements selects only the finest ingredients from local producers to ensure your meals are fresh and savory. Enjoy a wide selection of appetizers, steaks, seafood and light fare and a full array of beer, mixed drinks and fine wines. Private dining is available for families or small groups.