Red River — with its western charm and laid-back vibe— is the classic ski town. This year’s winter-fun season runs from Nov. 27 to March 22.
But before there were slopes and chairlifts, gold, silver and copper prospectors filled the streets and watering holes in the late 1800s. 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’s seven lifts can transport nearly 8,000 skiers an hour, making the lift lines very short. Ski trails vary in difficulty from beginner runs to double black diamond dares that weave through steep, wooded terrain. Ski lessons are available.
Boarding terrain parks
Red River Ski & Summer Area is home to The Parks at Red River with three terrain parks for every riding ability. Looking to show off? Then head to Hollywood, the main park home to the largest jumps, jibs and hits.
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.
More than 90 percent of the lodging, restaurants and shops are within easy walking distance of the two main lifts.
All winter tubing sessions are one hour in length and are on a first come, first serve basis. It’s highly recommend that you purchase your tickets online in advance of your trip or as soon as you arrive from the Guest Services office or a Ticket Sales Desk located in the Main Chalet. Tube rentals are for one hour during available sessions and are $22 per tube. Ten tubes are required for a session to run. If a session sells out another one-hour session will be added beginning after the first.
Tubing operational dates and hours:
Nov. 26: One-hour sessions between noon- 4 p.m.
Nov. 27-30: Sessions begin at 4:30 p.m.
Dec. 6-7: Sessions begin at 4:30 p.m.
Dec. 13-14: Sessions begin at 4:30 p.m.
Dec. 20 through March 21, 2020: Sessions begin at 4:30 p.m.
Please note that starting the second week in January there will be no tubing available on Tuesday or Thursday until February. Plan accordingly during this time if you would like to tube.
After the lifts close, visitors can have a meal in the sky 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) 754-2223 ext. 201 or 202 or visit redriverskiarea.com. After the lifts close, visitors can have dinner at the restaurant at the peak — provided they have a reservation for a Snow Coach Dinner Tour.
A not-to-miss annual event includes Mardi Gras in the Mountains from Feb. 28 through March 5. This unique blend of Mardi Gras and Red River traditions draws crowds from all over the country. The celebration is highlighted by a colorful parade down Main Street, Krewe Krawl and the Burning of the Tchoupitoulas (a spirit that removes your troubles and worries for the coming year), Cajun Cook Off, live music at local establishments, Grand Ball and Costume Contest, and a Children’s Ball. For a complete schedule, visit redriverchamber.org/mardi-gras-in-the-mountains.
In addition, Red River is set to host unsanctioned Rail Jam events this winter plus a Torch Light Parade and Fireworks every Saturday night and over the holidays.
Got a need for speed? The Town Challenge Series is a weekly ski and snowboard gate race series where racers in age divisions compete to earn points throughout the whole race series. Races are run on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Downtown run. Registration is at the race shack at the top of Downtown. The better of two runs will determine how many points earned and your standings through the series. There is no additional charge for this activity, but you must have a season pass or a lift ticket for the day of the event. The Grill at the Lift House hosts a results party at 5:30 p.m. Races begin in January. Visit redriverskiarea.com for an updated schedule.
For more information on off-mountain happenings, visit redriverchamber.org or call (575) 754-2366.
Average annual snowfall: 214 inches
Average days of sunshine: 300+
Number of trails: 63
Skiable acres: 209
30 percent expert
38 percent intermediate
32 percent beginner
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 the the Platinum, Copper and Gold chairlifts
Information: (575) 754-2223; redriverskiarea.com
WINTER & SPRING EVENTS
Torchlight Parade and Fireworks every Saturday night beginning Nov. 30
Nov. 26: Winter tubing opening day
Nov. 27: Skiing, boarding opening day
Nov. 28: Frozen Turkey Race
Nov. 30: Thanksjibbing Rail Jam
Dec. 6-8: Deal Days, discounted lift tickets
Dec. 13-15: Deal Days, discounted lift tickets
Dec. 14-21: College Days, discounted lift tickets and rental equipment with valid student ID or proof of enrollment
Dec. 21: Breakfast with Santa, 8 a.m.-noon at the Red River Conference Center
Dec. 24: Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade and Fireworks
Dec 25: Ski and Ride with Santa
Dec. 31: Old-Fashioned New Year’s Eve Party held at the Historic Red River Community House, 7:15-10 p.m.
Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve Torchlight Parade and Fireworks
Jan. 4, 2020: Gold Rush Rail Jam
Jan. 5-20, 2020: College Days, discounted lift tickets and rental equipment with valid student ID or proof of enrollment
Feb. 28-March 5, 2020: Mardi Gras in the Mountains