Pounds of powdery snow befall a winding mountain 16 miles from the heart of New Mexico, or Santa Fe. Skiers and snowboarders of all levels take to the groomed paths, a few minutes outside of the Pueblo-style architecture and buildings populating Santa Fe, for a wintry excursion, particular to Ski Santa Fe. Though experienced skiers slaloming down the mountain may instigate fear and trepidation in novice skiers, the ski resort prides itself on nurturing all levels of winter sports enthusiasts. From beginner bunny hill lessons to more advanced mogul and terrain park rules, we’ve compiled a newcomer’s guide to Ski Santa Fe for all levels of eager skiers.
Ski Santa Fe sits just miles outside the New Mexico capital, nestled in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Guests cruise down New Mexico State Highway 475, following the freeway to near completion, where the mountains materialize, proferring a mystical ski resort. Travelers from out of state find their way to the resort via bus or car. A shuttle bus, RTD Mountain Trail Bus Route, operates thrice daily, transporting skiers from Santa Fe to the resort’s base. Individuals traveling to Santa Fe via plane pick between The Santa Fe Regional Airport, 30 minutes from the ski resort, or the Albuquerque International Sunport, 83 miles from the downhill paradise.
A Newcomer’s Guide To Ski Santa Fe: Mountain Breakdown
Skiers eye the slopes first. Ski Santa Fe provides ample options for skiers of all levels. Each descent warrants a ranking, deciphering the runs’ difficulty. According to Ski Santa Fe, 20% of available runs occupy beginners, 40% of the trails apply to intermediate slalomers, and 40% entertain expert-level skiers.
Eighty-nine trails sprawl across 660 acres of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, measuring 1725 vertical feet for the resort. Seven lifts decorate the resort. One quad lift carries four riders or skiers to the peak of the mountain, two triple chair lifts allow for three passengers to scale the slopes, two double chairs permit pairs to scurry up the summit, and two conveyor belt contraptions chute standing beginner riders toward a miniature crest.
Slopes with green circle markers call to newer skiers with their smooth, compact, groomed snow and shorter, wider range, allowing beginners free space to fall and attempt to swivel down the mountain sans judgment. Blue squares appeal to intermediate, not yet advanced skill levels. Blue square runs may encompass a few jumps or steep moments on the decline, but riders with steady skills should be able to handle blue slopes.
Advanced skiers rejoice on black diamond ski runs, ones comprised of steep descents and a generous portion of ungroomed snow. Jumps (moguls) and switchbacks pop up throughout black diamond pistes. Expert/professional skiers enjoy double black diamond paths full of moguls, prolonged steep declines, rocks, cliffs, ungroomed snow, and narrow paths. Terrain parks, areas with boxes, large jumps, rails, and other obstacles, stand out from other trails with a ovular orange symbol.
Ski Santa Fe functions during optimal skiing hours, or daylight. Glistening sunlight sparkles hit freshly fallen snow, enhancing skiers’ experience on each of the 89 runs. Every attendant hops on a lift or a conveyor belt starting at 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. each day. The resort splits itself into two separate areas, upper and lower mountains, each fashioning multiple lifts.
The lower mountain encompasses the beginner conveyor belts, stretching up 30 and 40-feet elevations matched with 200 and 260-foot-long pistes(perfect for rookie skiers and boarders) while the lower mountain chairlifts expand 150 feet, 850 feet, and 900 feet over ranges up to 5,730 foot-long trails. Advanced skiers take to the upper mountain lifts for soaring sky-rides 1,500 feet in the air down pistes 5,000 feet long.
Trails for Everyone
Level snow crunches under skis and snowboards rappelling down beginner pistes like Easy Street. The green track gives beginner skiers a perfect location to test new skills on an unobstructed, groomed surface. Trees line the sides of the mountain, accessorizing the trail but not embellishing the piste’s difficulty like strenuous runs. A clearing in the mountains reveals a stunning overlook of Santa Fe and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains atop the steep, blue square run, Gayway. Fresh powder glosses over the groomed surface for a solid downhill journey.
South Burn, a popular black diamond slope, enraptures customers with gorgeous spruce trees bobbing under layers of snow. Skiers roam through the rugged trail, stupefied by the legendary landscape. Many moguls and kickstart jumps arise near the spruces, adding a bit of flair to the black diamond trail. The ungroomed, double-black diamond sunset bowl weaves through trees and glades, urging skiers and boarders to forge their own paths, dodging uprooted branches and stones scattered throughout the backcountry trail. Pebbly patches protrude through the snow, scaring off beginners yet enticing more advanced practicers. Five double black diamond pistes emerge within the wooded areas of the mountains, presenting tricky trails for even masterful skiers.
Maintaining mountain safety perpetuates a positive environment for advanced and beginner skiers. The skiers at the top of the mountain must pay attention to skiers farther down the slope, as they have the right of way. Before racing down the slope, pay attention to your surroundings and other skiers to avoid collisions. The mountain allows uphill skiers (alpine touring) to traverse the natural beauty of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, capped with glowing snowflake mounds.
Ski Santa Fe measures over ten feet of powder each year, so skilled skiers swerve toward ungroomed mountains full of powder piles. However, with ungroomed paths comes the danger of snow immersion suffocation or an accident where snow swallows a rider, which could result in death. Always ski with a buddy if crossing over into unmarked territory. Skiers choosing to remain on paved paths must avoid any trails marked “snowmaking in progress” and move out of the way for snowmobiles and other winter vehicles to pass through.
Terrain Park Breakdown
The National Ski Areas Association urges skiers and boarders to abide by a five-step process that ensures safety for all parties on the terrain-riddled parks. When skiers and boarders rely on this plan of action, everyone enjoys the terrain to its fullest extent.
The first step refers to riders starting small. Skiers and snowboarders must know fundamental terrain park skills before attempting to complete tricks in a park. Do not attempt to nosegrind a rainbow rail without flat-grinding a box first. Next, make a plan of action. Ride through the park one time, noting a mental run-through.
The third step? Look before descending upon a downhill slope to guarantee no one will propel through the park at the same time. Then, issue respect toward other riders and the park features. Do not cut anyone off or use the park features in inappropriate fashions: sitting on them, uprooting them, or jumping off of jumps for features. The most important and final step pleads riders to take it easy and know limits to always land feet-first.
A Newcomer’s Guide To Ski Santa Fe Takeaways
New Mexico’s ski resort gem, Ski Santa Fe, provides ample pistes for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. Whether black diamond enthusiasts want to try out backcountry trails deep in the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range or starting skiers wish to stand while inching down the slope, Ski Santa Fe offers numerous runs. Every skier or snowboarder visiting the gorgeous ski resort must obey all safety precautions before embarking on an unforgettable New Mexican alpine getaway.