New Mexico might not be everyone’s first choice for a ski vacation. However, with varied terrain, plenty of snow, and interesting cultural heritage it’s got plenty to offer. But which resort?
New Mexico ski resorts are laid-back and quieter than many others, making them ideal for families. Our top picks have ski-in ski-out family accommodation and easy access by local airports.
Our Top Picks
3. Ski Apache
Ski Apache is located in southern New Mexico on the slopes of Sierra Blanca mountains and it’s owned by the Mescalero Apache Tribe. With the 12,003-foot Sierra Blanca peak near the town of Ruidoso, it is one of America’s southernmost ski resorts, so you can enjoy mild winter temperatures and fresh snow at the same time.
Fun for Kids
Ski Apache instructors offer private and semi-private lessons for ages 5+. These 50 min lessons are to build on or start your journey with skiing and snowboarding.
Group beginner ski or snowboard lessons for ages 7+ are available on a walk-in basis only. They last for 40 minutes and start at 10 AM and hourly afterward until 2 PM.
Ski Apache has been operating since 1964 and now has a total of 55 runs flanking the side of the mountain. The top elevation is 11500 ft (3500 m) and the base at 9600 ft (2900 m), while the skiable area covers 750 acres.
20% of runs are classed as beginner, 60% are classed as intermediate and 20% are classed as advanced. The terrain is varied with plenty of tree-lined groomed runs, as well as mogul fields and a total of three terrain parks. With an impressive vertical fall, the longest run is the Sierra Blanca Trail, which stretches for more than 2 ½ miles.
Ski Apache has eight lifts in total including a gondola, three quad chairs, and three triple chairs. After a morning on the slopes, you can stoke up at the Big-Game Sports Bar with a juicy burger or sandwich, alternatively, take your pick of the 70 beers on tap at the Broken Arrow Tap House.
If you’ve developed a need for speed at Ski Apache why not try the 8890 ft ZipTour high wire adventure. You start at 11000 ft and quickly accelerate up to 60 mph during your descent.
Off the Slopes
Many visitors to Ski Apache arrive via the airport at El Paso about two hours away.
For lodging, Ruidoso River Resort on the Rio Ruidoso, has 1-3 bedroom condos, with full kitchens and living areas, which are close to all the amenities.
Additionally, hotel rooms are available at the Inn of the Mountain Gods in nearby Mescalero. The hotel offers ski packages on request.
What We Love About Ski Apache
- The resort offers everything for a family holiday in a quiet environment
- The private lessons for beginners are worth the extra cost
- Condo accommodation is easier for families and kids
Ski Apache Stats
|Summit Elevation:||11500 ft / 3505 metres|
|Skiable terrain:||750 acres|
2. Taos Ski Resort
Swiss skiing innovator, Ernie Blake, first discovered the terrain around Taos Ski Resort more than 60 years ago, while flying across the region. With his family, he created the successful resort, combining local New Mexican culture and traditional European hospitality. The vibe at Taos is very laid-back partly because of the many Texans who vacation here, arriving at Albuquerque and Tao’s airports.
Fun for Kids
The instructors at Taos Ski School have a reputation for excellent teaching while having fun at the same time. The Ernie Blake Snowsports School is consequently one of the highest-rated ski schools in North America. Kids aged 5-13 can choose between a half-day or full-day lesson. This includes equipment rental, a full-day lift ticket, coaching, lunch, and snacks.
Winters at Taos can be varied, as the desert terrain and high elevation affect the snowfall. It’s not unusual for 300 in of dry powder to accumulate but it does vary from year to year. There is plenty of variety on the slopes with descents from above the treeline from Kachina Peak, as well as bowls and treelined runs and glades.
The top elevation is a heady 12481 ft (3,804 m), while even the base is at 9200 ft (2,804 m), so you may find yourself breathless on any climbs. The 110 runs range over a skiable 1294 acres and for the most part cut through forested slopes.
These provide a good range of ability with 24% of runs classed as easy, 25% are classed as intermediate and 51% are classed as advanced. The 14 lifts servicing the mountains include four quads, four triples and a gondola, which will minimize any queues. Taos also has two terrain parks.
Taos also offers plenty of activities beyond the slopes. The forested cross-country ski area extends for 33 km with groomed trails for Nordic and skate-skiing. There are additional runs for snowshoeing and families.
Guided snowmobile tours are popular, where you can take in some of the spectacular views across the peaks.
Off the Slopes
Taos has a real Alpine feel and ski-in ski-out lodging including the Blake Hotel, as well as three and four-bedroom luxury penthouses and 1-3 bedroom vacation rentals. The town of Taos is approximately 25 miles away and has numerous family inns and hotels.
What We Love About Taos
- Taos Ski Resort is remote, so it never gets crowded, so lift lines are short.
- The local Hispanic and Pueblo Indian cultures and the bohemian town of Taos give local interest.
- The Taos Ski School is one of the highest-rated nationally
|Summit Elevation:||12481 ft / 3804 metres|
|Skiable terrain:||1294 acres|
1. Angel Fire
Angel Fire Ski Resort is high up in the Rocky Mountains of New Mexico and first opened its slopes in 1966. The cold winters make ideal conditions for winter sports, while warm summers draw in plenty of Texans for the golf. On the slopes, there are plenty of easy runs making it a great destination for families to ski together.
Fun for Kids
They start them young at Angel Fire, where kids aged 3+ (and sometimes even 2!) take part in private ski and snowboard lessons. These can be customized into one, two, and three-hour blocks, which can be further personalized depending on your goals.
Although termed ‘private’, three other family or friends can make up a group of four, so long as they are of the same age-ability, and pace. Group lessons are more economical and are available for kids aged from 3-12.
At the base, the elevation of the resort is 8600 ft (2621 m), which rises to 10,677 ft (3254 m). The 2077 ft (633 m) vertical fall gives plenty of scope for the 81 trails running down the mountain.
The skiing takes place on two faces of the mountain. The right-hand side has plenty of greens and blues running through the trees, while the left-hand section has blues but also plenty of challenging blacks. There is a good spread of ability with 21% of runs classed as beginner, 56% classed as intermediate and 23% classed as advanced.
The extensive forest provides four dedicated glade trails, which are all classed as advanced terrain. The mountain is serviced by two high-speed quads, three doubles and a conveyor lift. For terrain park lovers, Liberation Park is located close to the summit and has jumps, beams, rails, rollers and funboxes.
Annual snowfall at Angel Fire is 210 in during the season, which is backed up by snowmaking capability of 52% for the mountain and 85% for the beginner runs.
Off the Slopes
Angel Fire Resort is certainly remote, but the local airport offers flights with local Taos Air to major cities such as Dallas, San Diego, and Los Angeles mostly within two hours. In season a free shuttle bus operates between Angel Fire resort and the local airport.
Accommodation at Angel Fire is convenient with numerous cabins, chalets, and condos with ski-in ski-out access for rental. The Lodge also provides quality hotel accommodation.
What We Love About Angel Fire
- It’s a quirky ski resort that offers a good variety of terrain
- The resort elevation gives reliable snow backed up with snowmaking
- There is plenty of ski-in ski-out family accommodation
Angel Fire Stats
|Summit Elevation:||10677 ft / 3254 metres|
|Skiable terrain:||560 acres|
Why Choose New Mexico for Skiing
The high elevation of many resorts in New Mexico provides authentic mountain skiing and some fantastic views. The heritage of the local Mexicans and Indians in the region provides plenty of interesting history, lifestyle, and culture, which you can experience first-hand. With the remote location of many of the New Mexico ski resorts, accommodation is usually provided in the resort for convenience.
How Did We Order This List?
To help rank our top selection of ski resorts for this list we compared the following ranking factors:
|👨👩👦 Ranking Factor||📈 Power to affect Rank|
|Amount of Beginner Trails (Mi)||4x|
|Amount of Skiing Area (Mi)||3x|
|Cost of two adult tickets + child ticket||1x|
|How many magic carpet lifts||1x|
We gave each factor its own weighting depending on how important we feel it is for family fun across all ages. For example, a resort with more beginner trails is higher ranked than a resort with a lower-priced family ticket – with all else being equal. That’s because while cost is a factor, it’s not a primary one. We may also use our editorial judgment to remove or add resorts that we believe should make the list.
When taking all of this into account, it gives us our awesome list above. We hope it was helpful in planning your next family ski vacation.
Best Ski Resorts for Families In New Mexico
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