Located in the south-western part of the United States, Santa Fe is an amazing city that blends Spanish Colonial Architecture with Native American culture.
The city is famous for its annual Indian Market where tourists come from all over the world to purchase Native American art and enjoy a taste of Native American culture. However, aside from this one event, the city has a rather dull image, which is surprising considering the location of the city: the majestic sierra de las parangos, or the pink sierras as they are more commonly known. These majestic mountains act as a stunning backdrop to the city, and their snow-clad peaks offer a magnificent sight to those who love to ski.
If you are visiting Santa Fe or are a local and want to know which are the best places for skiing and what are the best times to visit the city, keep reading.
Arrowhead, located in the Rio Grande del Norte National Forest, is actually a resort-like community where residents and visitors alike can enjoy some of the best skiing in North America. The community was founded in 1963, and was originally named Taos Ski Lift after the nearby ski resort of Taos. However, the name was changed in 1980 to honor the famous Western author, Louis L’Amour, who popularized the phrase “Rio Grande del Norte” in his famous western novels.
The ski resort is famous for its steep slopes and expert locals who can give first aid and help you figure out which run is best suited for your skills. The entire region around the village of Arrowhead has become quite popular, as the lift ticket costs only $25, making it one of the cheapest in the U.S. In fact, the entire northern half of New Mexico is expensive, but not Arrowhead. There are no streetlights or parking meters, and the locals are extremely friendly, so everything feels like a bit of a paradise. The village even has a bed & breakfast, courtesy of the local tourism board, where you can find some peace after your morning of skiing.
Not far from Taos, across the continental divide, is the smaller but no less beautiful town of Jack Frost. The locals there are also very proud of their ski resort and community, which they built a few years ago. While the town is small, its ski run is long and connects to the Taos Ski Lift, allowing beginners and intermediates to enjoy the spectacular scenery of northern New Mexico and New Mexico’s most renowned ski village. The snowboarder in your group might like it here, too, as the snow park is one of the largest in the country. Its expert staff will help you find the right snowboard and gear for your size and skill level, as well as give you some tips on how to perform on the slopes. And for those who want to stay a bit longer, there is also a small bed & breakfast in town where you can have a simple meal before heading back to town to continue your day on the slopes.
Located in a remote part of the San Juan National Forest, less than an hour’s drive away from Santa Fe, is the smaller but still very picturesque town of Keppel. Like its bigger and more established neighbor, Santa Fe, Keppel also has a rather dull image, mainly due to the fact that it is quite a small town and doesn’t offer much in the way of entertainment. However, despite its size, Keppel is actually a pretty popular spot for skiing due to the fact that the slopes are quite different from the norm. The snowflake-shaped mountain, known as The Keppel Ski, is actually made up of several interconnected bowls that make for some extremely interesting and varied skiing, which is what the town is known for.
Los Alamos Ski/Snow Park
The United States has some of the most incredible ski resorts in the world, but none match the beauty of Los Alamos. This picturesque mountain village is located in the San Juan National Forest, near the border with New Mexico. The entire community of Los Alamos is actually a small city that sprung up around the Los Alamos Laboratory, where scientists from the United States and other countries come together to discover and develop new scientific and medical advancements. Due to the close relationship between science and skiing, Los Alamos has one of the best ski resorts in the country.
The entire city is actually a ski resort, with expertly crafted trails that meander through the dense forests and offer a magnificent panorama of the Jemez and Sangre de Christo mountains. The ski village is small and charming, tucked away in the forest, with only a few hotels, restaurants, and galleries where you can find lodging, eat, and drink. The runs are mostly short but very steep, making for an adventurous yet beautiful and scenic skiing experience. Although there aren’t any famous ski resorts near Los Alamos, the entire city is actually a great place to learn how to ski, as the locals are more than happy to help you out.
Taos Ski Valley
Taos Ski Valley is located in southern New Mexico, close to the Mexican border. The ski resort is actually a small town with a shopping area and a few restaurants where you can have a meal before continuing on to the slopes. The snowboarder in your group might like it here, too, as there is a wide range of snow-related activities available, from snowshoeing to ice climbing and heli-skiing. Even if you don’t ski, the entire town atmosphere is rather mellow, so you might want to visit Taos anyway.
Red River Gorge
Also in southern New Mexico and close to the Mexican border is the stunningly beautiful area known as the Red River Gorge. Located within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this area is well-known for its breathtaking panoramic views of the red cliffs and lush forests located within the majestic Smoky Mountains. It is also the setting for the critically-acclaimed TV series, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which is based on Canadian author, Margaret Atwood’s popular dystopian novel, “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
The local tourist board actually encourages people to visit the region, as they can provide information about the park and village, and even offer heli-skiing and other adventure activities. The entire downtown area at sunset, with all the yellow and red buildings, makes for a stunning sight that will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Betty Ford Alpine Center
Located in northern California within the splendid San Francisco Bay area, is the Betty Ford Alpine Center. This incredible center was actually named after the famous American feminist and politician, who not only fought for women’s rights but also for those who loved to ski. The center opened its doors in 1960 and quickly became a hub for skiing and mountain activities. The facilities here are incredible and include an outdoor pool where you can swim before and after your ski session, tennis courts, Jacuzzi, saunas, and more.
The Betty Ford Alpine Center is actually made up of three interconnected towns, including Sausalito, which is the largest. While most of the attractions and activities are located in the center, you will find shops, galleries, and restaurants in the other two towns, making them part of the center as well. The whole region is actually quite a popular tourist destination, and for good reason: it’s quite easy to separate days for recreational skiing or for taking a stand against social injustice.
Last but not least, we have the iconic Chapel Hill in the center of North Carolina. This charming university town actually has two distinct ski resorts, one located on top of Biltmore and the other on top of Pinehurst. The two resorts are actually quite close to each other and can be accessed easily via cable car. While Biltmore is mainly a popular residential area surrounded by woods and gardens, Pinehurst offers an exceptional golf course and a lively nightlife, making for a complete opposite experience. The whole town actually exudes an air of exclusivity, with only six percent of the houses being considered affordable.
While this air of luxury has made the town attractive to some of the world’s greatest golfers, who flock there every year to play one of the country’s most famous courses, it hasn’t done much to improve the town’s image when it comes to skiing. This image is mainly due to the fact that while the two resorts are quite close to each other, they are actually quite different in nature. While Biltmore’s slopes are rather gentle, Pinehurst mostly consists of expertly crafted backcountry trails that connect the two resorts, and provide breathtaking views of the surrounding area. It is also home to the famous PGA Championship, which is one of the most important sporting events of the year, held annually in mid-April.