Landing at Albuquerque International Sunport, passengers get a birds-eye view of the mountains they’re about to explore. Often referred to as the “Land of Enchantment,” New Mexico has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, from red cliffs to snow-capped peaks.
Perched on the edge of the Rockies, the area offers light, powdery snow and pure-blue skies, making it a top choice for family ski vacations. Families also like New Mexico ski resorts for their good value and kid-friendly atmosphere.
Eight major alpine ski resorts are located in New Mexico, many in the Northeast area of the state, as this is where most snow accumulates. Here are some of the best family-friendly ski resorts in New Mexico.
1. Taos Ski Valley
Rich with history and historical prevalence, Taos Ski Valley is one of the few family-owned and operated ski resorts in America. Originally a ski-exclusive resort, Taos opened its doors to snowboarding for the first time in 2008. Today, avid skiers and snowboarders flock to this snow-covered mountain for some of the best trails and riding experiences around. With more than 1,200 acres, 110 trails and 14 lifts, this New Mexico family ski resort features a variety of terrains for all skill levels. The resort’s trails are evenly dispersed, with beginner and intermediate terrains making up 49 percent, with the other 51 percent on advanced and expert terrain.
This family ski resort in New Mexico features a children’s center offering a variety of fun-filled activities for kids of all ages. The nursery staff offers childcare to children 8 weeks to 3 years. Indoor activities, snow play and tasty snacks are provided for children ages 1 to 3, with half- and full-day sessions available. Kids age 3 and up can participate in a variety of ski and snowboarding programs, allowing them to learn the basics of riding and work on new skills and abilities.
With plenty of lodging throughout the area, families can easily find something that will fit their needs and budget. From hotel rooms, suites and chalets to two- and three-bedroom ski-in/ski-out condo units.
Recommended Hotel: The Bavarian Lodge & Restaurant
2. Angel Fire
Consistently rated one of the top family ski areas in the Southern Rockies, Angel Fire offers tons of terrain for tubing and skiing.
Beginner and intermediate trails make up more than 75 percent of the mountain’s terrain, making it great for those just starting out. For more experienced riders, there are several expert trails along the back of New Mexico’s tallest mountain. More than 80 trails are accessed by seven chair lifts, overlooking Moreno Valley and Wheeler Park and three terrain parks.
Music is pumped out on the trails from sound systems under the lifts, adding a festive vibe. A timed NASTAR race course is just above the 8,600-foot elevation base, offering recreational racing for anyone on a huge slalom format. The Polar Coaster is a four-lane trail down 1,000-foot hills, perfect for tubing. The freestyle terrain parks have jumps, rails and boxes, putting Angel Fire on the top for snowboarding in New Mexico. The mountain’s lower front side, home to the easier trails, is lit up and open for night skiing on select evenings.
Children ages 3 to 12 can learn to ski in one of four full- or half-day classes, split by age. In the ski programs, all children are encouraged, not forced, to ski or snowboard. Classes include lunch, snacks, rentals and free lift ticket. Select classes are for first-time skiers only.
Recommended Hotel: Angel Fire Resort Lodge
3. Ski Santa Fe
Nestled in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Ski Santa Fe is a family ski resort in New Mexico with runs for beginners and a few challenging runs for more advanced riders. Deemed one of the highest ski areas in the United States, the resort has a base elevation of 10,350 feet. The Millennium Triple Chairlift takes visitors to a soaring 12,075 feet over 660 acres of gorgeous scenery, 1,725 feet of vertical skiing and 86 well-groomed trails that appease skiers of all levels.
With seven chairlifts total, don’t expect to be waiting in lines at Ski Santa Fe. A freestyle terrain park, known as “The Bone Yard,” contains boxes, ramps and jibs for all riding enthusiasts. Guests can enjoy smooth runs up to 3 miles long, narrow chutes, and more challenging black diamond trails.
Chipmunk Corner Children’s Center caters to kids from age 3 months to 11 years. Full-day or half-day childcare is offered for kids’ up to 3 years old between 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Split into groups by age, kids are provided with snacks and lunch. Snowplay is a group for 3- and 4-year olds that provide children with outdoor games and movies the entire day. Lil’ Chips is a ski lesson program that takes place during snow play, so children can go in between groups as they wish. Kids between the ages of 4 and 11 can take skiing or snowboarding classes with peers in the same age group. These classes cater to kids of all levels; the center has its own conveyor lift.
Recommended Hotel: La Posada de Santa Fe Resort & Spa
4. Pajarito Mountain Ski Area
With 44 trails for skiers and snowboarders of all ski levels, Pajarito Mountain Ski Area in Los Alamos welcomes families to come get their fill of winter sports adventures. Pajarito offers private and group lessons, or you can set off on your own. Kids will love Camp Bluebird, a skiing and snowboarding program for children ages 5 to 12 and of any skill level. All lessons take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a lunch break at noon.
Plus, this ski destination offers great deals for families. All kids ages 10 and younger receive a free season pass to Pajarito Mountain Ski Area. But it’s not limited to just Pajarito Mountain Ski Area. It’s also good at Sipapu Ski & Summer Resort in Taos, as well as the following resorts around the country: Purgatory Resort, Snowbowl, Nordic Valley, Hesperus and Spider Mountain. In addition, all fifth-grade students receive a free season pass for Pajarito Mountain Ski Area, Sipapu Ski & Summer Resort and Hesperus. You should apply online for your kids’ free season passes prior to visiting the resort.
Recommended Hotel: Pueblo Canyon Inn and Gardens
5. Ski Apache
Located in Alto, New Mexico—the state’s southernmost major ski area—Ski Apache offers 55 runs and trails in more than 750 skiable acres accessed by 11 lifts including a gondola. Families can sign up for private lessons with children age 4 and older or take group lessons for ages 7 and older. On holidays and weekends, kids age 4 and older can participate in Bear Cub Adventure, a morning or afternoon half-day program where they can enjoy indoor and outdoor play.
The resort also has experienced certified instructors and specialized adaptive equipment to ensure visitors with disabilities can ski and snowboard the mountain.
For those wanting a different perspective of Ski Apache, sign up for the three-part ZipTour. Open to all visitors ages 10 and older who weigh between 50 and 260 pounds and stand between 52 and 80 inches tall, this 1.5-hour adventure takes participants to new heights around Ski Apache.
Recommended Hotel: Inn of the Mountain Gods
6. Red River Ski & Summer Area
Surrounded by the Southern Rockies in Red River, New Mexico, Red River Ski & Summer Area sits at an elevation of 8,750 feet. However, the top elevation reaches 10,350 feet with 209 skiable acres filled with 64 trails accessed by seven lifts. Snowboarders also can choose from three different terrain parks geared to all skill levels. When not on the slopes, visitors also can enjoy snow tubing.
For new skiers, head to the Youth Ski & Snowboard Center, which offers ski and snowboard lessons for children ages 4 through 12. Red River Ski & Summer Area also offers First Step ski and snowboard lessons for teens and adults. Parents can also take advantage of Buckaroo Day Care, a babysitting service for children ages 6 months to 4 years old. Here they’ll enjoy supervised play with activities such as story time, crafts and outdoor play.
Recommended Hotel: Hotel Ryland
For nearly 20 years, Karon Warren has traveled the globe, searching for adventure, unique personalities, and a new perspective on the world around us. When she has the opportunity, Karon brings her family—husband William and children Elizabeth and David—along for the experience. You can follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and at her blog, This Girl Travels.