9 Great New Mexico Ski Areas
New Mexico ski areas

Ski AReas in New Mexico

Southern New Mexico may not be considered a skiing mecca, but the slopes of the nation’s southernmost mountain nearing 12,000 feet in elevation — Sierra Blanca Peak near Ruidoso where the excellent Ski Apache resort awaits — lie just over two hours away from Las Cruces. This list of ski areas in New Mexico is provided by Cinder Cannabis, conveniently located on the way out of Las Cruces, on the way to many of these ski destinations.

Ski Apache

Sandia Peak Ski Area. Photo courtesy.

One of only a few ski areas in the nation owned and operated by an Indian tribe, this area offers some surprisingly good skiing and snowboarding in an average year and excellent possibilities in a wet winter. It is home to the state’s only gondola lift, which provides quick and weatherproof access to the summit, plus a handful of chairlifts to ensure short or no lift lines.

On a good year from its high point, you can stand on top of five feet or more of snow and look west and down some 7,000 feet to sparkling White Sands National Park, where horned lizards dart about yucca and cactus. The greatest vertical displacement in the state offers magnificent views of mountain ranges marching south toward Mexico, and eastward onto the Great Plains.

The area has a preponderance of beginner and intermediate runs, but also abundant terrain for expert skiers, and even some excellent tree skiing when conditions allow. With no development in the base area, other than a basic lodge with a cafeteria and bar, all visitors stay, dine, and pursue other activities in the town of Ruidoso, which has a huge number of lodging options, restaurants, small shops, and other amenities. 

Many Las Cruces residents visit Ruidoso for skiing adventures in the winter months. If you’re one of those folks traveling from Las Cruces to ski near Ruidoso, stop by Cinder Cannabis, conveniently located off Highway 70 at the Sonoma Ranch exit to see their quality products and great deals.

Ski Cloudcroft

The other ski area close to Las Cruces is the tiny but fun Ski Cloudcroft, located two miles from the town of Cloudcroft. It has just a 700-foot vertical drop and often suffers from little to no snow. But in a good winter, it is a great place for beginner and intermediate skiers, and those looking just to play in the snow on its inner tubing hill, which has a snowmaking system. The area offers rentals, a day lodge, and three lifts. Details: skicloudcroft.net, Facebook, or 575-682-2333.

Sandia Peak

The next closest ski area to Southern New Mexico is Sandia Peak, just east of Albuquerque. Reached via the spectacular Sandia Peak Tramway or by car, it is a great quick escape from city life, with a substantial vertical drop, a nice mix of terrain, and a top-notch restaurant and lounge at the summit. Details: sandiapeak.com. Before leaving Albuquerque to hit the slopes, visit Cinder Cannabis, located near the heart of downtown.

Ski Santa Fe

Some 15 miles from the Santa Fe Plaza, and 3,500 feet higher, sits Ski Santa Fe, a remarkably good ski area largely overlooked by national media and patrons. But that’s fine with locals, who love its normally excellent snow, ensured by its summit elevation of 12,075 feet, and its fine mix of slopes ranging from wide cruisers and challenging mogul runs to the state’s best tree and glade skiing. Its outdoor decks will serve hot food and drink this winter, and its ski school will hold students to groups of four, providing excellent personal instruction. A bonus here is getting to enjoy the amenities of the town of Santa Fe, appealing to skiers and non-skiers. Details: skisantafe.com.


Los Alamos is home to old-school Pajarito Mountain. A great choice during peak holiday periods, or for powder hunting after its weekly multi-day closures, Pajarito consists mostly of beginner and intermediate terrain. But it also boasts some of the state’s toughest bump runs — its so-called “Fab Five” of Nuther, Mother, Sidewinder, Breathless, and Precious. Details: skipajarito.com.


Moving north, one next encounters Sipapu, the area that outperforms its diminutive size. It is popular with families due to its low prices, especially its combined stay and ski packages, easy-going vibe, preponderance of beginner and intermediate slopes, and good terrain park. But in a good winter, it also has some thrilling, if shortish, tree skiing patches and steep pitches for experts. Details: sipapunm.com.

Taos Ski Valley

Lying far to the north is the gem of New Mexico skiing and snowboarding, world-class Taos Ski Valley (TSV). While renowned for its steeps — indeed, over half its terrain is ranked expert and beyond — its large size also includes a terrific assortment of intermediate and beginner runs.

Its lung-burning Kachina Peak Chair, for experts only, tops out at 12,450 feet! Adjoining the state’s highest summit, Wheeler Peak, TSV provides jaw-dropping vistas of snow-clad peaks and distant ranges and basins. Founded by Europeans, it also has a special character and vibe, with visitors and staff from all over the world coming back year after year. Details: skitaos.com.

Angel Fire Resort

Near Taos is Angel Fire Resort, with an abundance of finely groomed and long, easy-going intermediate and beginner runs. It’s also home to the state’s best terrain parks and only night-skiing (and tubing) operation. Details: skiangelfire.com.


Perched just below the Colorado border is Red River, one of the most economical choices for a family outing. With lifts departing right from town, it’s also walkable; you can park the car and forget that base area hassle. Its runs cater to beginners and intermediates, though it does have pockets for the experts and a good terrain park. Details: redriverskiarea.com.

So, is it time for a road trip?

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Posted by Ruidoso.com

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