Sipapu at 70

A magic portal to outdoor recreation in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains

By David Lerner

According to many North American Indigenous creation stories, a Sipapú is a cosmic portal and a sacred place of emergence.

In Hopi mythology, Sipapú is the fissure from which the earliest Ancestral Puebloan people emerged from the Third World into the Fourth, our realm. Legend has it that Sipapú is located in the U.S. Southwest somewhere near the four corners, but you won’t find the precise location on any map. 

In 1953, Lloyd and Olive Bolander — founders of New Mexico’s Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort — adopted this potent Tewa word for their 13-acre riverfront parcel located high in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. In doing so, the newlyweds tapped into a powerful and enduring origin myth. 

“Lloyd was one of the last true New Mexico pioneers,” says managing partner James Coleman. “He and Olive had a vision for their family and community that they successfully brought to fruition through their vibrant spirits and determination.” 

Mr. Bolander passed away in 2014, but his vision of sustainable land stewardship and year-round mountain fun lives on, as this June, Sipapu celebrates its 70th summer in continuous operation.

Sipapu is famous for its affordable skiing and snowboarding packages, lessons, and rentals, but summers at the resort are no less exhilarating. General Manager John Paul Bradley notes that historically, summer has been the resort’s busiest season, although he adds that the resort’s bustling ski season has now caught up in popularity. 

During the mild, high-elevation summers, area residents and tourists flock to Sipapu for recreational activities such as fishing, camping, hiking and golf, or simply to unwind and unplug (Sipapu offers reliable internet service if unplugging is not an option). 

For those seeking either an extended vacation or a quick getaway, Sipapu offers an array of beckoning lodging options. Depending on party size and preference, guests can book slope-side cabins, houses, casitas, duplexes, suites and lodge rooms. Whichever option you choose, you’ll find authentic Northern New Mexican décor, hospitality, and charm. Sipapu also offers scenic camping on the Rio Pueblo River and RV spots. During the summer, water and electricity hookups are available, but please note that there is no sewer or pump-out service. 

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Bradley emphasizes that the resort’s value-based philosophy extends into the summer season as well. Prices for lodging and activities are well within the grasp of the average Taos County resident. In addition, due to its scenic mountain location and on-site guest quarters, Sipapu has rapidly become one of the region’s most sought after wedding venues.

Those seeking to tie the knot are encouraged to contact Sipapu’s dedicated wedding planning team or schedule a visit.   

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Although Bradley has yet to reveal the special events slated for this summer’s celebration, the resort held a low-key 70th birthday party in January with cake, music and other festivities. In March, Sipapu hosted a historical tour of the mountain, which boasts the oldest ski lift in New Mexico.

When the lift arrived in the early-1950s, Ernie Blake had to drive down from Taos Ski Valley to translate the lift’s German language only instruction manual.

Sipapu recently partnered with Power Pass Resorts, which operates nine other ski areas around the mountain West. Despite this development and impressive growth, Bradley and his staff remain committed to “growing the family” and keeping it local. In eight decades, Sipapu has evolved considerably from its D.I.Y roots, but its core mission has not strayed from Lloyd and Olive Bolanders’ original intent — to give visitors a magic portal to recreation and relaxation in a clean, beautiful and sustainable mountain locale.

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Sipapu Ski & Summer Resort
5224 NM 518, Vadito