Red River is a fun and challenging area to check out if you are doing a tour of New Mexico ski areas, as I have been fortunate enough to do. Red River was a Western mining town on the “Enchanted Circle” around Taos and there is still an active mine in the valley. The Red River runs through the town and the ski area base is on a side street. One chair actually takes off over the river (more of a fishing stream at that point). The chairs are all center-pole two-seaters without safety bars, so you’d better be lined up right or you get a real cold bath. The 45-year old resort is a good ski area to visit for all ages.
Red River also has some very steep, tough trails. They are cut from the mountain in a way to make them even more difficult. It has a top elevation of 10,350 feet and 57 trails - with 30% as expert (no exagerration there), 38% intermediate, and 32% beginner. Average snowfall is 214 inches per year, with a vertical drop of 1600 feet.
The youth program is especially good - with top notch instruction that teaches the kids to ski quickly and move up to intermediate level after a few lessons. There are also snowboard lessons. Special trails for the kids lead to a mining camp, tree house, Indian village, and animals of the forest game. The young skiers have to identify and record carved figures of forest animals while skiing through an aspen grove to get a free cup of hot chocolate.
We were lucky to have another sunny day in New Mexico - usually we bring snow which ruins the views. But, in this case we could see the vistas, mountains, and valleys. In addition to improved visibility, I enjoyed skiing more because I had rented equipment which was shorter and lighter. The first day of the trip, at Apache, I suffered with heavy boots and Head skis which appeared to weigh more as each moment passed. The bottom of my legs throbbed, and my heart pounded. I did not begin to get my rhythm until late afternoon.
The following days were terrific, because I returned to my old, compfortable, and light boots. I will wear them until they disintegrate. The skis I tried each day included Salomon Scrambler 400 at 150 cm. The next day I tried K2 Freedoms at 153 cm. At Taos, at the end of the trip, I used Salomon Scrambler 700’s, at 145 cm. They were all enjoyable, and a far cry from the early days of skiing. 40 years ago, an instructor sold me Kastle Metallic Giant Slaloms at 210 cm! Amazing I was able to ski on them for years. The moral is, be insistent on what you want, and trade them in if they are not comfortable for you. With the modern skis, there is no need to suffer or be uncomfortable.
The rental skis are important, because many of the guests only ski a few days a year, and do not have their own equipment. The Red River Ski Area believes it gets 57% of its guests from Texas, 18% from Oklahoma, 5% from New Mexico itself, and the rest from scattered areas. So, it is only natural the Texas flavor is strongest. Even the bathrooms are listed for Cowboys and Cowgirls.
If you get to Red River, look up Manager Drew Judycki, Ski School Director Wally Dobbs, and colorful cowgirl and dog trainer Resa Kittinger. They are there to help - be sure to give them a big “howdy” before you hit the slopes!
When she wasn't skiing, Connie Lawn covered the White House as a reporter since 1968.