Taos New Mexico Area Ski Areas

Taos Ski Valley Ski Area

Taos Ski Valley is at the top of the Rio Hondo Canyon, sitting amidst the Carson National Forest in an area historically known as the La Cal Basin. Wheeler Peak towers to the east and is the State of New Mexico’s highest elevation mountain peak at 13,167 feet. The ridge off the edge of Kachina Peak is 12,481 feet high and defines the western border of the ski area. The local weather is montane or alpine, with usual winter low temps often below zero and summer high temps usually in the 70s.

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The ski area’s business economy is established around the Taos Ski Valley’s world-class winter sports area that is known for its steep mountain slopes and trails and its extensive annual ski season snowfall of about 300 inches or so. The lower basin area first attracted people to the area when gold and copper were first discovered in the area in the early 1900s.

Ernie Blake is the founder of the ski area and put up the first ski lift in 1956.  Until 2013, the Blake family retained ownership of the ski resort. In 2013 the Blakes sold their interests in the Taos Ski Valley area and facilities to former hedge fund manager Louis Bacon. Bacon began immediate renovations and upgrades to the area, including the installation of the new Kachina Peak chairlift.

At approximately 9,200 feet in elevation, the base resort area includes many day shops and restaurants and overnight lodging facilities. The new The Blake Hotel is schedule to open in early 2017. The Taos Ski Valley resort area has 15 ski lifts and 110 skiing trails, with a vertical drop from the top of the slopes to the base area of more than 3,000 feet. Approximately 250,000 skiers and snowboarders (allowed since 2010) typically visit the slopes each year. Other area activities in the winter include snowmobiling, snowshoeing, cross-country and back-country skiing, and inner tubing. In the warmer summer months, the main chairlift continues to transport hikers, mountain bikers, and sightseers to mid-mountain elevations for summertime activities.

Angel Fire Ski Area

Angel Fire is located at an elevation of about 8,382 feet in the high sitting Moreno Valley of Colfax County New Mexico. The climate is consistent with its Rocky Mountain setting that includes some of the highest mountain peaks in New Mexico. About 210 inches of snow typically falls on Angel Fire each winter season, with the average temperatures typically range from between zero and 30 degrees F. Summer temperatures very rarely get above a comfortable 80 degrees with typical afternoon summer thunderstorms that cool off the midday temperatures even further.

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A favorite hunting ground for the Ute native American tribe, the Moreno Valley population expanded around the 1860s with the discovery of gold in the area. Ranching primarily dominated the area until the 1960s, when the first ski runs of the Angel Fire Resort and ski area were cut in on the Aqua Fria Peak. Tourism and skiing primarily fuels the local economy, although there are still some large working ranches the area that continue to operate.

Almost completely surrounded by U.S. National Forest and privately owned ranches, the bounded incorporated Village of Angel Fire covers approximately 18,450 acres. The Village includes the general aviation Colfax County Airport and the Angel Fire Ski & Golf Resort, which is a private membership community overseen by the Association of Angel Fire Property Owners (AAFPO). The Angel Fire Resort has more than a thousand private homes, a large condominium community near the ski area, a 500-acres ski and snowboard mountain, a championship golf course, a country club, a private fishing lake, and other amenities available to homeowner and landowner members. Membership is mandatory for property owners within the community. Non-members can pay to use most resort facilities, but property owner members enjoy discounts on most amenities and services.

Red River Ski Area

The town of Red River is nestled between the mountain peaks in the valley along the Red River, a mountain tributary to the Rio Grande River approximately 20-miles to the west. The community sits at 8,750 feet elevation, surrounded by the Carson National Forest and the Sangre de Cristo mountains. The climate is mostly montane and alpine, with typical winter low temperatures below zero and summer high temperatures in the 70s. It is typical for thunderstorms to build and roll through the Red River area on summer afternoons.

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The town of Red River provides administrative and municipal services for its residents, visitors, and the nearly 200 local businesses in the area. The town hosts a series of popular summertime events, beginning each year with the Memorial Day Motorcycle Rally that can typically attract more than 20,000 motorcyclists from around the country for the long Memorial Day holiday weekend.

The attraction of gold brought gold miners to the area in the mid-1800s. Nowadays, the local economy depends primarily upon the winter tourists who ski and snowboard, and the summer tourists who visit to hike, mountain bike, drive ATVs, or to just escape the heat back home and just relax and sit back in the comfortable local cool summer temperatures. There are approximately 1,200 seasonal homes to help house the many visitors to the area every year. The Red River Ski Area rises up out of the south end of town with a vertical drop of about 1,600 feet. The Red River mountain ski area includes 58 trails and six lifts on about 290 acres, and typically attracts about 120,000 ticket-buyers in a typical winter ski season. In the summer, the lifts continue to run for the many mountain bikers, hikers, and sightseers who come to enjoy the area.

For a fee, wintertime activity enthusiasts can also explore the almost 21 miles of groomed skiing and snowshoeing trails that have been developed at the Enchanted Forest Cross-Country Ski and Snowshoe Area located about 3 miles to the east of town. There are many private rental services in Red River that lease out everything from snowmobiles and ATVs, to the stables providing horses for horseback riding on the numerous trails in the area.

Sipapu Ski Area

Sipapu is a moderately sized ski resort in the Taos County, New Mexico area. It is the home of New Mexico’s longest ski season, typically being the first ski area to open in New Mexico each year, with its ski season running from November to April. The peak’s altitude is about 9,255 feet. There are 5 ski lifts and 41 ski trails. Other facilities at the resort include 2 terrain parks, local golfing, fishing, lodging accommodations, and dining establishments. Sipapu lies in the Carson National Forest approximately 20 miles south-southeast of Taos, New Mexico along State Road 518.

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Sipapu states its objective as being the most family-friendly resort in the Rocky Mountains. Many guests have actually continued to visit the resort since it opened in 1952, and they now are bringing their children and grandchildren to the resort. The resort is small enough so that children are unlikely to get lost, and the laid-back style and feel of the resort is perfect for family members looking to take pleasure in a family vacation they can afford. You can also access everything without waiting in a lift line nearly all season long. Sipapu provides a perfect spot to learn to ski, snowboard, and more. Certainly, if it’s your very first time on the slopes, you should consider Sipapu.

Other New Mexico Ski Areas