Long before European settlers descended upon the sunlight and silence of Moreno Valley, legend has it the nomadic Moache Utes who congregated there in the spring and fall to renew their ancestral ties with the Great Spirit, called the flickering radiance emitted from the sun upon the tip of Agua Fria (Cold Water) Peak the “fire of the gods.”
Roving Franciscan friars, with the aim of converting the area’s American Indians, transposed the moniker into “the place of the fire of angels.” Arriving to the area in the mid-1800s was Lucien B. Maxwell , the largest land grant owner in U.S. history, hoards of trappers and Spaniards — many of whom bore witness to the unique glow. Frontiersman Kit Carson is credited with conceiving the name “Angel Fire” in 1845.
The idea for the Angel Fire Ski Resort was born in the mid-1960s during an unassuming, typical family Sunday dinner.
Wichita Falls, Kansas, transplant and cattle rancher George LeBus made the comment to his father, Roy, that they should install a tow rope on their 25,000 acre spread in the Sangre de Cristo mountain range so they wouldn’t have to drive so far to enjoy one of their favorites pastimes — skiing. Roy ran with the idea.
By the winter of 1967, Roy LeBus’ vision of a ski resort became a reality.
A community sprang up around the ski area and the Angel Fire Chamber of Commerce was founded in December 1982. The town was incorporated as the Village of Angel Fire in 1986.
The popular family-friendly destination opens this season on Dec. 13. It now boasts 80 Alpine trails and seven lifts, plus more than 12km of groomed cross-country and snowshoeing trails at the Nordic Center.
For advanced skiers the Bear, Elk, Shane’s and Eagle glades comprise the four tree-trail areas covering 30 acres.
In addition to skiing and boarding, Angel Fire is an excellent tubing choice. Dubbed the Polar Coaster, this six-lane groomed tubing hill sends riders down 1,000 feet of sliding bliss. There is also a family snow play hill for sledding just outside the Country Club. A single sledding hill pass is $5 per child. Sleds and discs may be rented at the Nordic Center for $10-$15. Sledding is available Friday-Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and daily during peak periods in December and March (conditions permitting). To confirm hours of operation, call the Nordic Center at (575) 377-4488.
Angel Fire is the only resort in the state to offer nighttime skiing plus tubing, sledding and boarding.
Season dates: Dec. 13, 2019-March 22, 2020
Average annual snowfall: 210 inches
Average days of sunshine: 300+
Number of runs: 80
21 percent beginner
56 percent intermediate
23 percent advanced
Number of lifts: 7 total
2 high-speed quads/3 doubles/2 Sunkid Wondercarpets (one public, one Ski School access only)
Base elevation: 8,600 feet
Summit elevation: 10,677 feet
Vertical drop: 2,077 feet
Snowmaking: 52 percent of the mountain, 85 percent of beginner terrain
Hours of lift operation: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; 4-8p.m. for night skiing (select nights)
Information: 800-633-7463; angelfireresort.com
Nordic Center: More than 12km of groomed terrain for classic and skate cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. The Nordic Center operates Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with extended hours during peak periods in December and March. Operations are dependent on weather.
Information: (575) 377-4488; angelfireresort.com
Dec. 7: 4th Annual Snow Wash; 2-4 p.m.; wash your vehicle for free and hope it snows (instead of rain); held at the Angel Fire Car Wash, 3427 State Road 434.
Dec. 12: Member Skiing & Snowboarding Preview Day and Aprés Ski Party
Dec. 23: Pictures with Santa
Dec. 24: Ski & Snowboard with The Clauses; Christmas Eve Dinner at Elements; Christmas Eve Dinner at Legends Grill; Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade & Fireworks; Story Time and Santa in the Lobby
Dec. 26-29: (TBD) Holiday First Tracks
Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve Dinner at Elements; New Year’s Eve Torchlight Parade & Fireworks; New Year’s Eve Party at Village Haus
Jan. 1-4: Family Fun Fest
Jan. 5: USASA Giant Slalom Race (snowboard only)
Jan. 10: Member Moonlight Dinner and Ride
Jan. 18: Telluride Mountainfilm on Tour presented by Angel Fire Resort
Jan. 31-Feb. 2: Winter Carnival featuring the last World Championship Shovel Races on Feb. 1
Jan. TBD: Demo Daze
Feb: 2: Super Bowl Party at Legends Grill
Feb. 6-9: 6th Annual Military Winter Fest
Feb. 8-9: USASA Jedi Challenge Skiercross and Boardercross
Feb. 14: (TBD) Don Sebastian & Sons Valentines Dinner
Feb. 15-17: Member Winter Weekend
Feb. 21-28: Mardi Gras Week
Feb. 29: USASA Night Time Rail Jam
Feb. 30: USASA Slopestyle Liberation Emancipation
March 8-17: Spring Break Music Fest
March 11: Beer Brauts, Burgers and Pond Skimming
March 17: Lucky Charms Scavenger Hunt
March 21: Chilly Bike Challenge (downhill bike race on snow)