Ski Central

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By Cindy Brown & Photos By MIke Hawkins

Welcome to skiing in paradise. Around the Enchanted Circle of Northern New Mexico, you’ll find skiing and riding for every taste and level of ability. From double-black diamond runs at the legendary Taos Ski Valley to the family-friendly slopes of Sipapu, Angel Fire and Red River, skiing and riding here is more than just about sport — it’s about pristine forests, sunshine, history, culture, community and finding a place that reflects who you are as a skier and a person. 

Photo by Mike Hawkins/Skier Nate Steinberg

Sipapu Ski & Summer Resort 

Opening Day — Nov. 18

This year, Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort will celebrate its 70th anniversary. Since its founding in 1952, there have been some big improvements in the winter outdoor experience, but the friendly, family-oriented feeling has remained the same. Located in the Carson National Forest in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the resort has more than 40 trails, five lifts and three terrain parks. The Riverside Café and Paradise Riverside Bar and Grill offer great dining options, and there is slope-side lodging, a ski shop and ski school. 

Guests will see some of the improvements that were developed during the pandemic remain in place this year to improve the efficiency of their ski experience. Skiers will be able to order their food and beverages online and get a text message when their food is ready. As John Paul Bradley, the mountain operations manager says, “We realize people are here to ski. Food and beverages will get you through the day, but you didn’t come to stand in line. By ordering online, your food will be ready for you. That allows people to continue to live life.”

Also new this year will be some big improvements in the rental shop with a new boot drying rack that ensures when you pick up your rental boots, they will be dry and comfortable.

Locals know that a devastating fire came close to Sipapu this past summer. Bradley says a big achievement since last year has been surviving this natural disaster; the fire got within 2.5 miles of the resort. “We are grateful to get to be here and to get to be a ski area again,” he says. Lodging reservations for the winter are strong and the staff is looking forward to being open on Friday, Nov. 18, usually the earliest opening day in the state.

At Sipapu, they are committed to keeping ski pass prices low so that everyone has the freedom to ski. There are free passes for kids under 12. “We want people to recreate in the winter as a family,” says Bradley. 

By Mike Hawkins/ Skier Nate Steinberg

Taos Ski Valley 

Opening Day — Nov. 24

Taos Ski Valley will open on Thanksgiving Day. With its 110 runs and more than 3,000 feet of vertical drop, it is a world-renowned ski destination. 

TSV has made a commitment to do better for the world through its pledge to protect its people, place and planet and have a good time doing it. Part of that commitment can be seen in its certification five years ago as a B Corporation, which is a designation that a business meets high standards of performance, accountability and transparency related to employee benefits, charitable giving and environmental sustainability. 

Now, Taos Ski Valley has been certified as a CarbonNeutral company as a step in significantly reducing its carbon emissions. Chairlifts and snowmaking use 100 percent daytime solar, and TSV has begun to electrify its vehicle fleet — including snowmobiles. 

The Blake Hotel uses geothermal wells and ground source pumps to heat and cool the building. These, along with many other steps, set Taos Ski Valley apart from other ski areas in its commitment to reduce its impact and improve the environment — a goal many of their guests share.

TSV also plays an active role in supporting the community, especially through programs like the Charles N. Romero Snowsports Program that encourages Taos Pueblo youth to learn to ski. 

Photo by Mike Hawkins/ Skier Jake Billet of Taos Ski Patrol

Red River Ski and Summer Area  

Opening Day — Nov. 23

Red River Ski and Summer Area is located next to the historic town of Red River — founded in 1895. There is a lot of small town charm here and easy access to a ski area with few lift lines and lots of fresh powder. It attracts families looking for a welcoming experience for everyone. For more than 60 years as a family-owned area, Red River has been offering its unique and affordable skiing experience with wide-open slopes and steep tree runs. Marketing coordinator Reed Weimer says, “There’s a little bit of everything from true beginner runs to the more challenging blues and blacks, including some with bumps. No matter how you ski, the experience is very relaxed. Skiing at Red River feels like a step back in time in the best possible way.”

New snow guns and a groomer are among the improvements that will help Red River get open by Nov. 23, the day before Thanksgiving. Altogether, Red River has 64 trails, seven lifts and more than 200 skiable acres. Add in 214 inches of average snowfall and more than 300 days of sunshine and you have one of the most pleasurable ski and snowboarding experiences in the West. 

By Mike Hawkins / family by fire

Angel Fire Resort

Since its beginning as a small ski resort in 1966, Angel Fire Resort has become a four-season destination for families. With views of Wheeler Peak, the tallest mountain in New Mexico, visitors can have fun sledding and tubing, along with skiing and snowboarding, Nordic skiing and snowshoeing. A unique offering is night skiing and snowboarding. Be outside in the magic of the starlit sky and ski and ride on 50 acres of groomed slopes. 

Skiing at Angel Fire begins in December. During the holidays, there are torchlight parades to celebrate the season. 

By Mike Hawkins/ Skiing at night