Red River has high hopes for ski season
Fun, easy-access snow sport resort
By Will Hooper
The Red River Ski Area starts right at the base of the village, practically a stone’s throw from the main thoroughfare, promising fast and easy access, a huge boon, given the technicalities involved with COVID-19.
As an old mining town established in 1895, Red River began its life with a background in hard labor, which then required labor for restaurants, bars and various ski areas, Red River Ski Area being one of them.
Upon entering Red River, heading east from the village of Questa, visitors see something a little bit out of the ordinary. A huge, former molybdenum mine that operated intermittently from 1919 to 2014, encompasses the northwest mountainside all along State Road 522.
Out of the Old West
The town itself feels like something out of an old Western movie. Saloons, ice cream shops, go-carts and local restaurants are prominent upon entering Red River.
The most recognizable human installation around is visible just to the south of the main drag, where chairlifts can be seen going up steep hillsides from the center of the town.
Driving farther up the road into the town, you’ll find a ropes course on the left, and more slopes above that. This is the Red River Ski Area.
The ski area has always been a hidden gem, famous for its steep, yet wide-open terrain. As a smaller resort, Red River Ski Area remains boundless in its availability for innovation. The ski area folks pride themselves on their ability to make snow, even in a dry winter, said Reed Weimer, public relations director for Red River Ski Area.
Red River has long remained a small but much sought after ski area for people looking for a unique Northern New Mexican skiing or riding experience. Their runs offer a little something for snowsports enthusiasts of any level.
The ski area boasts 64 trails and seven lifts. The Emerald Quad Chairlift, installed in 2017, replaced the Green Chairlift at Summit Camp. This “gem” of a chair allows Red River to move twice the number of people in half the time, cutting in half the amount of time in physically distanced lift lines.
Weimer said they’re especially proud of their terrain park, acknowledging that their snowmaking has a lot to do with the success of the area, and pointed out that the terrain park’s runs range from beginner to expert, and feature easy slopes, groomed trails, park jumps and slides, and powdery tree-steeps.
While being in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, Red River Ski Area is doing its best to offer safe and exciting, physically distant snow activities.
Weimer said so far such outdoor activities like skiing and riding are in compliance with physical distancing protocols; and the resort is complying with all regulations put forth by the state of New Mexico Department of Health.
As far as the 2020-2021 season goes, Red River Ski Area is offering season passes to the public. Offering season passes is “one of the more solid plans we could develop early on,“ said Weimer. “We feel pretty comfortable that we offer the assurances for those who are interested,” he said of their season pass offer.
Weimer noted that the resort has extended deadlines several times and will “offer pass deferment, no questions asked, as well as in-season COVID
credits if we have any closure issues due to COVID-19.” He also stated that there would be a potential for a credit voucher based on how many days they will be able to operate.
Weimer said that Red River Ski Area is comfortable with waiting on the guidance given by the state.
Ski New Mexico approved
“We have worked with Ski New Mexico to develop COVID-safe practices that were submitted to the governor and her office to consider,” said Weimer of the 2020/2021 season.
Regardless of any limitations, Weimer said they will be open and ready to accept eager skiers and riders whatever the situation, and he has high hopes for this season.
“In a perfect COVID world, we will be skiing and riding with minimal problems,” he said.
The Red River Ski Area has maintained a rigid schedule of opening the day before Thanksgiving, a day that they have not missed for “10 or 20 years.”
As far as this year’s opening date, the day before turkey day has “always been our thing,” Weimer said.
Even during a tough year, Weimer pointed out that “people can look forward to the same snowmaking that they have been able to rely on in the years when we don’t get much help from Mother Nature.”
Big guns’ powdery promise
Regardless of what the season is bringing, Red River remains steadfast in its mission to run the ski area in whatever capacity possible. Of course, because the predictions are up in the air this year, no one is making any promises.
Weimer certainly doesn’t want to trust any “Farmers’ Almanac or forecasts too much,” while he did acknowledge that the possibility of La Niña or low-moisture cycle this year doesn’t always favor a ski area.
“But we do have the region’s most powerful snowmaking machines behind us,” he added.
Whatever the season brings, Red River Ski Area is ready with fresh snow and diverse slopes as the resort operates during a year unlike any other. Be sure to snag a season pass while they are available.
For more information visit redriverskiarea.com or call (575) 754-2223 to make a reservation.