New Mexico may be best known for its hot desert climate, but there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the snow and ice in the state’s winter season. Here are some ideas to get your winter fun started.
Ice skating is fun for the whole family and doesn’t require a lot of pre-planning. Some ice rinks open for public skating include Outpost Ice Arenas in Albuquerque, Cloudcroft Ice Rink, and the El Paso Hockey Association facility in El Paso, Texas. Cloudcroft Ice Rink is considered the southernmost natural outdoor ice rink in the continental United States. The rink provides skate rentals, skater-aide walkers for beginners, and even sells tubes and sleds.
Cloudcroft Ice Rink owner and operator Donald Wiklund said not only is ice skating a great family activity, but it’s also perfect for date nights.
“People go on ice skating dates — I see it,” Donald said. “They’re both not very good at it, they’re getting to lean [into] each other, they’re getting real close . . . it’s kind of got its own romantic element.”
Cloudcroft Ice Rink’s hours vary depending on the weather. Visit facebook.com/cloudcrofticerink for updates and pricing.
For the ultimate snow tubing experience, visit Ruidoso Winter Park, open from Thanksgiving Day through March. The park consists of three tubing areas: The Penguin Park is for children shorter than 42 inches and has two tubing runs, the “A” hill has four chutes and is the intermediate hill for anyone 36 inches or taller, and the “B” hill is the advanced hill for anyone 46 inches or taller.
“We are adding four additional chutes to the ‘B’ hill this year, so we will have a total of eight chutes,” said Kay Sims, base area manager.
“Both ‘A’ hill and ‘B’ hill are serviced by Magic Carpet lifts, so our customers don’t need to walk uphill.”
Visitors can opt to purchase an Igloo Package, which includes a private igloo (with a table, chairs, and heater), six all-day tubing passes, pizza, hot cocoa, private fire pits, and an igloo attendant who will take care of your family all day.
The park also has a zipline, festive events, and a courtyard with firepits. For information and pricing, visit ruidosowinterpark.com.
Additionally, snow tubing is offered at several New Mexico ski resorts, including Ski Apache, Taos Ski Valley, Ski Cloudcroft, and Angel Fire Resort.
Several companies in Red River, New Mexico, offer guided snowmobile tours, including Red River Sled Shed, Bobcat Pass Wilderness Adventures, and Red River Backcountry Adventures. Big Al’s Wilderness Adventures in Taos also offers guided snowmobiling.
“Snowmobiling appeals to a large group of people,” said Red River Sled Shed owner Jason Akerson. “They are a lot of fun to ride. They are less physically demanding than most other outdoor sports, and because snowmobiles are fairly simple to operate, they don’t require a long learning curve before you can enjoy snowmobiling. It’s a sport the entire family can participate in.”
Each snowmobiling company offers different packages. At Red River Sled Shed, customers can explore Carson National Forest with a 2- or 3½-hour tour. Children as young as 3 years old can ride as passengers.
When planning a snowmobiling tour, call the company for specific information, hours of operation, and age requirements.
For a unique adventure on the ice, take the family out for a day of ice fishing. Some of New Mexico’s ice fishing spots include Fenton Lake, Cabresto Lake, Sugarite Canyon State Park, and, up near Taos, Eagle Nest Lake State Park is very popular. The 2,200-acre Eagle Nest Lake is stocked with rainbow trout, northern pike, yellow perch, and kokanee salmon.
“I think more people are discovering that [ice fishing] is a lot of fun,” said Mike Ruhl, assistant chief of research in the fisheries division for the New Mexico Department of Game & Fish. “It’s something relatively easy to try and doesn’t require a lot of gear.” Some ice fishing essentials include an ice rod and reel, a hand auger to drill a hole through the ice, an ice scoop for removing slushy ice, bait and tackle, something to sit on, a sled to transport gear, and if you want to be a little more comfortable, a form of shelter.
When planning an ice fishing outing, call the state park you want to visit to make sure it is open and if there are any rules or regulations that must be followed.
Snowshoeing & Backcountry/Cross-Country Skiing
Snowshoeing and backcountry/cross-country skiing allow you to explore the beauty of nature on snow-packed trails. You can always rent or buy a pair of snowshoes or skis and make your own trail, or head out on an established path. Popular trails for snowshoeing near Taos Ski Valley include Bull of the Woods Trail and Williams Lake Trail. Many people also snowshoe or ski on trails in and around Cloudcroft. Little Apache Trail in Lincoln National Forest is enjoyed by cross-country skiers.
Another popular destination is the Enchanted Forest Cross Country Ski Area in Red River. Here, snowshoers/skiers can take their experience a step further with moonlight hikes, yurt rentals, and races. Angel Fire Resort Nordic Center also offers more than 12 kilometers of groomed trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Skiing & Snowboarding
For many, the winter season wouldn’t be complete without skiing or snowboarding. New Mexico is home to several ski resorts, including Taos Ski Valley, Ski Santa Fe, Angel Fire Resort, Ski Apache, and more. Each resort offers something different and most have other activities to enjoy along with skiing and snowboarding, like sledding, tubing, or scenic gondola rides.
This winter, Taos Ski Valley has made several additions, including an ice rink, a dinner sleigh ride experience, pro-guided mountain tours, and special ski sessions with Olympic Gold Medalist Deb Armstrong, to name a few.
Angel Fire Resort boasts its own unique list of activities and is the only resort in the state to offer night skiing/snowboarding under the stars.
Ski Apache offers a one-of-a-kind ZipTour adventure. The three-part ZipTour stretches over 8,900 feet, making it one of the longest ZipTours in the world.
Written by Alexia Severson • Courtesy photos
Originally published in Neighbors magazine.
Posted by Ruidoso.com