New Mexico’s Best Family-Friendly Ski Resorts
Ski resorts in New Mexico for families By Mimi Slawoff
Child snow tubing at Taos Ski Valley (Flickr: Josh Grenier)
Snowy slopes in cozy mountain towns may not come to mind when you think of New Mexico. Yes this southwestern state -- best known for dramatic desert landscape, adobe buildings and chili-based cuisine -- also has world class resorts with terrain for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. Many of New Mexico’s ski areas are family-owned, creating a laid-back, intimate ambiance. Don’t be surprised to find resort family members selling lift tickets, grooming slopes or riding a chairlift with you.
Here’s a sample of New Mexico ski resorts that welcome families with open arms.
Nestled in a cozy European-style village with restaurants, shops and slope-slide lodging, Taos Ski Valley has been in the hands of the Blake family for more than 60 years. Kids as young as 6 weeks are embraced in the children’s center equipped with daycare, pint-sized chairlifts, special terrain and an equipment shop. Kids ages 5 to 15 are grouped according to age and ability for ski and snowboard lessons. Younger children are supervised in Bebekare (ages 6 weeks to 12 months) and Kinderkare (ages 1 to 3). In the Mini Elite program, kids weighing at least 23 pounds are introduced to skiing on shorter equipment.
Fun fact: If your birthday is on March 24, the same as Taos Ski Valley founder Ernie Blake, you ski free on your special day.
Red River Ski Area
Snowboarder at Red River Ski Area (Red River Ski Area)
Feel right at home at the laid-back, Judycki family-owned property in northern New Mexico. Although the resort is small, the staff is big on friendly service on and off the slopes. Comfort food is served in the cafeteria and at the ski in/ski out Lift House restaurant. Ski and snowboard lessons are available for ages 4 and older. The Youth Ski & Ride Center makes skiing and riding fun for ages 4 – 12. New this year is a Full Day Ski/Snowboard Camp (ages 10 – 12) for skiers and riders of all levels. Includes lunch. Ask your kids to show you fun mountain features, such as the Moonstar Mining Camp, Animals of the Forest and an Indian village. Après-ski, it’s just a few steps to lodging, shopping and dining in the three-street, western-style town.
Tip: Take a Snow Coach Dinner to the Ski Tip Restaurant. The fun begins with a heated snowcat ride up the mountain.
Skier at Ski Santa Fe (Ski Santa Fe)
Located in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains 16 miles from Santa Fe, the resort is owned by the Abruzzo family who carved out a kid-friendly ski area. The children’s center has a nursery (from ages 3 months), snow play (ages 3 and 4) and ski and snow board lessons (ages 5 to 11). At the hub is the La Casa Lodge, housing a large cafeteria (with a diverse cuisine), ticket sales, rental services, a sport shop and restrooms. The mid-mountain Totemoff’s Bar & Grill is a great place to relax with family inside or out on the sunny deck.
FYI: The resort doesn’t have lodging, but you’ll find plenty, such as El Dorado Hotel & Spa in Santa Fe.
The Abruzzo family also own this small ski area, about a 45-minute drive from Albuquerque. It’s ideal for families looking for a laid-back experience. Ski in the morning, eat lunch and ride on the one of the world’s longest aerial tramways for 2.7 miles to the peak of the Sandia Mountains at 10,000-feet elevation. Kids’ snow sports lessons include Cubby Corner for ages 4 – 6 (they may even meet Cubby the Ski Bear) and various packages for ages 7 and older according to ability. Private lessons available for ages under 4 years.
Tip: Enjoy views and a family meal at Sandiago’s Mexican Grill. Watch for bobcats and deer.
Ski school at Angel Fire Resort (Angel Fire Resort)
This family-friendly, full-service resort features an indoor pool, Nintendo games and pet-friendly rooms. Mountain fun includes skiing, snowboarding, sleighing and tubing. Kids ages 3 – 12 are placed in grouped in small classes for maximum learning. Since each child is equipped with Flaik GPS technology, you can track your child’s travels at day’s end. The High Five program reaches out to newbies. The five-day progressive program gets you off the bunny hill and up the mountain. The Children’s Center provides supervised child care for ages 6 weeks to 11 years.
More fun: The property also offers nighttime skiing, tubing and a zip line.
More family-friendly ski resorts: