Angel Fire Resort (24 miles E. of Taos)
The only place to night ski in New Mexico.
Opens: December 12
What’s New: Powder City is a new front-of-the-mountain terrain park that stays open late for night skiing and snowboarding.
Don’t Miss: Give your skis a break and slide down the mountain on a shovel instead. The Shovel Races Championships (February 7-8) are as silly – and as serious – as the name implies. Top competitors for nearly 80 mph.
(800) 633-7463; (575) 377-6401; angelfireresort.com
Pajarito Mountain Ski Area (outside Los Alamos)
Ski the Jemez – downhill or cross-country.
Opens: Early December
What’s New: The Pajarito Brewpub & Grill, in downtown Los Alamos, serves up the best food in town and stays open late. You’ll enjoy the ski décor and the vast beer menu.
Don’t Miss: Torchlight Parade (December 31). At dusk, Pajarito staff ski down the mountain holding torches, while visitors enjoy drinks and snack on the deck. You can also access cross-country skiing trails on Forest Service land from Pajarito’s parking lot. These trails are maintained by the Southwest Nordic Ski Club (swnordicski.org)
(505) 662-5725; skipajarito.com
Red River Ski & Snowboard Area (36 miles NE of Taos)
Mining town turned ski town – that likes to party.
Opens: November 27
What’s New: The UNM Corporate Ski Cup has a new name: the UNM Ultimate Ski & Snowboard Challenge. On January 18, 2014 compete alongside Lobo athletes in up to three races. Can’t make this weekend? The series come to Angle Fire on January 25, Santa Fe on February 22 and Taos on March 1.
Don’t Miss: From a crawfish boil to a gator plunge, Mardi Gras in the Mountains (February 27-March 4) is a week of wild fun.
(575) 754-2223; redriverskiarea.com
Sandia Peak Ski & Tramway (E. of Albuquerque)
Small Mountain, big views, only 25 minutes from the Sunport.
Opens: Late November (weather permitting)
What’s New: High Finance Restaurant, atop Sandia Peak, now accepts lunch and dinner reservations through opentable.com
Don’t Miss: Because Sandia doesn’t get as much powder as the other resorts, it’s best to check their website before making plans. Snowshoeing, however, is almost always an option. Consider the Sandia Peak Snowshoe Race (January 18), which offers spectacular views of the Duck City, the Rio Grande and the Turquoise Trail.
(505) 242- 9052; sandiapeak.com
Sipapu Ski & Summer Resort (in Vadito, 25 miles S. of Taos)
Uncrowned slopes, family-friendly atmosphere.
Opens: November 16 (Sipapu’s earliest opening ever, and 11th straight year the resort has been the first ski area to open in New Mexico).
What’s New: Fourth- and fifth-graders ski free everyday (report card required). Kids six and younger, active-duty military, and adults ski free, as do those aged 40, 60, 70 and older (special promotion).
Don’t Miss: Forget about sand castles. February Fun Fest, a free event help President’s Day weekend (February 15-17), boasts a multistory snow castle that’s full of slides, steps and tunnels. “No one else in New Mexico builds anything like this,” says marketing director Stacey Glaser. “It takes our mountain crews a full week to create it!” In addition to the castle, the weekend includes scavenger hunts, a costume parade, face painting and games.
(800) 587-2240; sipapunm.com
Ski Apache (outside Ruidoso)
The southernmost ski resort in the country- and it has a new gondola
Opens: November 28
What’s New: Ski Apache’s 51-year-old passenger gondola was retired in January 2013 and replaced with the Apache Arrow, a new, high-speed, Doppelmayr gondola. The vessel carries eight passengers to 11,500 feet twice as fast as the old lift. In addition, four swift new ski lifts will whisk 3,600 more skiers to trail heads hourly.
Don’t Miss: Gather together a team of five for the Ski Apache Cup and Vertical Challenge (mid-January). See how many vertical feet you can total in four hours. Unwind afterward at the Inn of the Mountain Gods.
(575) 464-3600; skiapache.com
Ski Cloudcroft (E. of Alamogordo)
Celebrating 50 years of southern skiing in the Sacramento Mountains.
What’s New: Ski Cloudcroft has been operating since 1963. This years the resort celebrates 50 years with great skiing (weather permitting; no snow-making and new activates (check Facebook for updates). The Silver Spoon Ski School and Mustard’s Last Stand restaurant are as good as ever.
Don’t Miss: Cloudcroft might be small (fewer than 800 residents), but holidays are a big deal here. Bring an ornament to decorate the tree at the Lighted Christmas Parade & Tree Lighting (December 7), or chow down on Cajun cuisine during Mardi Gras in the Clouds (February 28-March 2).
(575) 682-2333; skicloudcroft.net
Ski Santa Fe (outside Santa Fe)
A sunny slope only 20 minutes from the capital city.
Opens: November 28
What’s New: The recently renovated La Casa Lodge features a new rental facility that offers more that 1,000 sets of Head skis and Burton snowboard equipment, plus boots, poles, helmets, and more. The lodge’s spiffy new food court features a bakery and pasta bar.
Don’t Miss: Rando skiing, which combines aspects of alpine, telemark, and backcountry skiing with mountaineering, is all the rage among winter-sports buffs, and Ski Santa Fe is offering the stat’s first competition. The Santa Fe Fireball Rando Race (February 8) is approximately 4,200 feet and includes multiple ascents on climbing skins and at least one bootpack.
(505) 982- 4429; skisantafe.com
Taos Ski Valley (outside Taos)
Opens: November 28
What’s New: The upcoming December issue of New Mexico Magazine will include a report on exciting new developments in the works at TSV.
Don’t Miss: With both a ski event and a benefit auction, Breast Cancer Awareness Day takes place February 22. During the K2 Bumps Challenge, teams of two ski Al’s Run as many times as possible in four hours. That evening, bidders can take home snowboards that have been painted by local artist during the Paint for Peaks Art Auction. The Salomon Extreme Freerider Championships (February 27-March 1) showcase some of the best double-diamond terrain in the country. Over 150 athletes compete for more than $15,000 in prizes.
(575) 776-2291; skitaos.org
Snowshoeing is another great way to enjoy winter weather while having fun and feeling the burn. These days, that’s to aluminum frames and plastic decking, snowshoes are much lighter and less cumbersome than the wood-and-leather rackets worn in centuries past. Snowshoe anywhere you’d normally hike, or opt for locations such as the Valles Caldera National Preserve (505-661-3333; vallescaldera.gov), or the Enchanted Forest Cross-Country Ski and Snowshoe Area (EFXC) (575-754-6112; enchantedforestxc.com), near Red River, which cater to New Mexico’s ever-growing population of snowshoers. Valles Caldera even offers night snowshoeing; on January 12, you can trek around the ancient volcano by the light of the almost-full moon.
If you’re not sure where to start, EFXC offers a snowshoe clinic and fun run (December 7-8) where you can learn everything from proper snowshoeing technique to what to wear for hiking or racing. Many sporting-goods stores, such as REI, also offer snowshoe rentals and tips for beginners.
If you get hooked- and are feeling speedy- the Santa Fe Snowshoe Classic (January 4) is a 5K race on the Norski Track Ski Trail, off Hyde Park Road. EFXC’s Low O2 Challenge (January 26) is a 5/10K event over singletrack and groomed trails; top finishers qualify for the U.S. Snowshoe Association’s national championship event in Vermont.