Ski Apache & the Fastest American Skier Ever
Surrounding the highest peak in the Sierra Blanca in southern New Mexico lies Ski Apache: a 750-acre ski resort owned by the Mescalero Apache tribe. Skiers can experience this stunning part of the state from 11,500 feet, with enough terrain to entice beginner skiers and experts alike.
New Mexico native Ross Anderson holds the title of the fastest American skier, and on the slopes of Ski Apache, he shows us how magical southern New Mexico, Mescalero Apache lands, and the Lincoln National Forest can be.
Skier Ross Anderson isn't your typical champion. He was born at Holloman Air Force Base, outside of Alamogordo, but followed his ski passion as far as the French Alps. That's where he perfected the daredevil art of speedskiing. Unlike the Olympic racing disciplines, where skiers navigate a set course with control gates, speed skiers simply tuck themselves into a tight aerodynamic stance and measure their victories in top speeds rather than finish times. Anderson, wearing an aerodynamic speed suit, clocked 154.06 MPH in 2006, which makes him the fastest American skier ever. Ross is part Mescalero-Apache and Chiruachua, is enrolled in the Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribes and calls New Mexico home.
Visiting Ski Apache
Ski Apache is New Mexico’s southernmost ski area, boasting the state’s only 8-person gondola that goes straight to the top. The resort has 55 trails, 80 percent of which are either blue or green runs — accessible to most skiers and riders with a little bit of time under their bindings. But that’s just in the wintertime: Summer activities at the resort include 5.5 miles of mountain biking trails, scenic gondola rides, and one of the longest ziplines in the world — taking you from above 11,000 feet at more than 60 miles per hour.
Named after the Rio Ruidoso (which means Noisy River) that cuts through town, Ruidoso is a mountain town with a lot of Western character. Here, you can find authentic New Mexican cuisine plus local wine tasting, and even a cowboy chuckwagon, if you’re looking for some entertainment with your eats. Not only is it a gateway community to Ski Apache, but it also heralds immediate access to the Lincoln National Forest and nearby connectivity to national park spaces such as White Sands and Carlsbad Caverns.
Other Things to See in the Area
Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino
From golf to dining to the outdoor adventures around an epic lake, Inn of the Mountain Gods is a Mescalero Apache-owned getaway on the banks of Mescalero Lake. The stunning space also offers live entertainment, diverse food options, and relaxing spa options.
Smokey Bear Historical Park
Come learn about the iconic fire-safety mascot Smokey Bear: a cub found in the aftermath of a fire outside of Capitan. Here, you can learn about Smokey’s long life of advocacy, the legacy of wildfire prevention efforts, and the effects of fire on forest environments.
Experience world-class horse racing at this gorgeous racetrack on the outskirts of downtown Ruidoso. Live racing takes place during the summer months only, but the track hosts year-round special events and betting.
White Oaks and the No Scum Allowed Saloon
The ghost town of White Oaks was a true boom-and-bust location for the mining industry in this part of southeastern New Mexico, and visitors today can see the remnants of a town that the railroad bypassed and the world ultimately forgot. Still standing, though, is the No Scum Allowed Saloon: a rowdy cowboy bar that lives up to its iconic name. Come for a pint and a cruise through Western history.