New Mexico certainly isn’t the first U.S. location that comes to mind when we want to hit the slopes. Most skiers would rather head one state north for the famous powder found on Colorado’s host of famous mountains. But what if you’ve covered all that ground and the lines at Vail and Beaver Creek (not to mention all the folks who have the gear and the sweet house on the mountain but know nothing about skiing) are casting a major cloud over your desire to head back to Colorado. Trying something new might be a good move. New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo mountains create an ideal skiing area about two hours north of Santa Fe near the Colorado border. The region is home to a handful of ski resorts that offer plenty of sunshine and powder. While certainly lacking the fame and variety that comes with Colorado, Utah or Idaho, New Mexico is an off the beaten path skiing destination that many skiers wish they had discovered sooner. Here are our picks for New Mexico’s Best Ski Resorts.
Taos Ski Valley
Located just south of the Colorado border and perched more than 9,000 feet up in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Taos Ski Valley offers more than 300 inches of snow and 300 days of sunshine in the average year. Combine that with shorter lines and a wide selection of challenging runs and Taos Valley starts to look like a very competitive candidate for your next trip.
What we love most at Taos is the disproportionate amount of truly challenging runs. Advanced skiers can spend all day exploring new, extremely steep runs to keep them at work — over half the runs are black diamonds. A common complaint from skiers at other mountains is that too many runs are reserved for beginning and intermediate skiers, leaving the advanced group with only a few options to choose from. Good skiers want to be challenged, and Taos certainly answers the call.
We’re also big fans of the importance of tradition on the mountain. The resort is still owned by the same family that founded it in 1955. You can still get ski lessons any day of the week in-season and the family has made sure there is plenty for everyone, from skiers hitting the slopes for the first time to lifelong skiers looking for a new near-vertical double black diamond to push them to their limits. Taos has it all.
Other Solid Options
There’s little that Angel Fire doesn’t offer. From beginner runs to hike access-only backcountry runs for advanced skiers to three separate terrain parks, Angel Fire is our variety mountain. Perhaps our favorite part is the night skiing option open until 8pm on Fridays, Saturdays and holidays. We also like that lift tickets are significantly cheaper than what you’ll find at Taos.
Red River prides itself on being a mountain that caters to families, offering an almost perfect three-way balance of green, blue and black runs. The family can stick together and enjoy the wide intermediate runs and gorgeous scenery, or everyone can split up and find what they like best. Low lift ticket prices are family-friendly as well.
Ski Apache is an outsider in our group here as it’s located further south, down near Ruidoso You get a little less snow but a great relaxed atmosphere and a wide variety of intermediate runs. It also features the state’s only eight-person gondola, meaning less time spent in long lift lines. Getting back up the mountain is a breeze.