Confession time: I’m a born and raised Michigan girl who learned to ski on hills; not mountains. So you’ll have to forgive me for the fact that I spent my first 24 hours at the Angel Fire Resort in New Mexico, just marveling at the mountainous terrain that provided the majestic backdrop for our family ski vacation in January (Mountains! Fresh Air! Holy amazing views!). Angel Fire is a laid back, family-friendly resort town located 25 miles east of Taos and a two-hour drive from Santa Fe.
It was our first time seeing snow since we moved to Texas two years ago. My 5-year-old son August had been getting a bit wistful about missing the piles of white stuff that always lingered on our cars, doorsteps and sidewalks from about November through March in Michigan.
Before we arrived at Angel Fire (an 11-hour drive from Austin that winds through parts of historic Route 66, including Amarillo), August was shaking with excitement, begging us to pull over the car immediately so he could kiss the snow.
We checked in at the resort’s lodge, a modest 122-room hotel located at the base of the mountain, and immediately set off to check out our environs. About a mile down the road, you’ll find the resort’s new Country Club, which includes an upscale restaurant and a sledding hill.
After a meal at one of the on-site restaurants and a soak in the hot tub, we bunked down for the night, eager to hit the slopes in the morning.
Angel Fire is home to 80 runs, ranging from an easy-peasy bunny hill to some killer black diamond runs off the back of the mountain. It’s also the only resort in New Mexico to offer night skiing on select evenings until 8 p.m.
Even the ride up the Chile Express Chairlift, climbing 10,677 feet to the summit, was a thing of beauty. A meandering green trail down the mountain, like my favorite run Headin’ Home, could easily be stretched out to 30 minutes of bliss over the frosting-like snow. And if you catch a sunny day like we did, with easy 30-degree temperatures, you can stay out all day without feeling too frosty (note to Texans: beg, borrow or buy WARM clothing! Truthfully, we were not as prepared as we should have been for the freezing wind that whips through the trails, even on a warmer day).
Angel Fire offers a highly acclaimed ski school for kids, an all-day curriculum with some of the lowest student-to-teacher ratios (usually about 4 to 1), as well as on-site daycare at the base of the mountain.
Once August was finished with his first day of ski school, we got a chance to ride the “Polar Coaster” tubing hill. We out-screamed each other as we careened down the lanes located just to the side of the bunny hill (a convenient escalator transported us and our tubes back up the hill).
By the time the weekend was up, August had pretty well mastered the “pizza” wedge stop on his skis thanks to ski school, and I had a chance to reconnect with my long lost love of skiing. I had forgotten the magic of a fresh snowfall, that particular stillness you feel traversing a trail and listening only to your breath. I’m so glad for the reminder.
In the warmer months, Angel Fire transforms into a mountain biking, ziplining, fly fishing and golfing destination, and a brand new RV luxury resort just opened there in 2015. We can’t wait to make our way back again soon and continue the marveling.