Snow, sun and safety
The sun shines bright in Red River, where guests feel free to play the day away with activities like skiing, snowmobiling, snow coach tours, tubing (on the ski mountain after hours), cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, horseback riding (usually in late winter or early spring) and, naturally, while shopping – all according to COVID-safe practices mandated by the state of New Mexico.
Opening day at Red River Ski Area is Nov. 25, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, continuing through Sunday Nov. 29, and thereafter it is open only weekends (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) until Friday, Dec. 11, when it offers daily skiing.
While masks, gators, gloves and helmets are typically worn for snow sports, people just have to have masks at the ready when not on the slopes and moving from place to place in public areas, sightseeing and shopping. At press time, gatherings of no more than 10 people are allowed and masks must be worn unless eating or drinking.
Weekday focus, 25 percent uphill limit
Red River offers terrain for all abilities, yet the state of New Mexico’s 25 percent limit on daily maximum uphill capacity requires some adaptation.
The ski area expects there will be dates when certain activities will only be available for purchase online and only in advance.
Skiers and riders are encouraged to consider weekdays and nonholiday weekends.
To keep guests and staff safe, capacity restrictions on base-area buildings means there is no lingering indoors. Food and beverage services and warming up are reserved for skiers and snowboarders.
No base-lodge changing is allowed this year, so come dressed for your adventures or use your car as a base lodge, putting on boots and storing extra gear as needed.
Holidays – plan way ahead
Get your holidays on now. You must purchase in advance, online no later than the night before, if still available, for the following holidays:
Christmas and New Year’s: Dec. 20, 2020 – Jan. 2, 2021
Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend: Jan. 15-17, 2021
Presidents Day Weekend: Feb. 11-16, 2021
Spring Break: March 7-19, 2021
Season passes will be limited this year. As part of that decision, season passes will not be available for purchase after Nov. 13, 2020. See the website for full details about credits for COVID-19 related closures. Other closures due to weather, mechanical or electrical issues will not be counted.
To best maintain physical distancing and adhere to COVID-safe practices, group lesson sizes will be reduced and availability will be extremely limited. To ensure placement in a lesson make reservations in advance even during times when reservations are not required.
All group lessons will only be available for purchase as a package. Packages include a lesson, lift ticket and rental or a lesson and lift ticket.
All group lessons will be limited to Gold Rush Hill and Little Blue areas which are serviced by the Gold Chair and Little Blue Carpet. For guests looking to further improve skills beyond those areas, private lessons are offered with limited availability. Call to reserve a private lesson prior to arrival.
Snow is a huge focus in every ski mountain, and that focus continues this year, where Red River’s mountain operations continually improve its huge snowmaking capacity.
Red River Ski and Summer Area uses man-made snow to make a base as well as for additional coverage throughout the season. Lest anyone believe man-made snow is somehow inferior, the area’s web site notes, “Artificially manufactured snow, when made properly, is as good as natural snow. Snowmakers, many of whom are from New Zealand, move through the night, riding snowmobiles, checking placements, analyzing the snow and adjusting snow guns to make the best quality snow.”
Red River snowmobilers have miles of groomed trails all the way up Sawmill Canyon to the 11,249-foot Greenie Peak. The Valle Vidal is a 100,000-acre wildlife tract with a 50-mile loop from Sawmill Canyon. The Upper Red River Valley is another favorite haunt where snowmobilers like to take the switch-backed road leading to Middle Fork Lake.
Average days of sunshine: 300+
Annual average snowfall: 214 inches +
Base elevation: 8,750 feet
Peak elevation: 10.350 feet
Vertical drop: 1,600 feet
Skiable acres: 290
Number of trails: 64
Number of lifts: 7
Snowmaking coverage: 85 percent
Information: (575) 754-2223, redriverskiarea.com