Summertime mountain biking has taken hold at most ski and snowboard resorts in the West, including a trio of northern New Mexico mountains whose MTB trail maps cover more than 100 miles in riding routes.
At all these resorts, base elevations are 8,000 feet or more above sea level. Flatlanders should allow a day or so to get acclimated before taking on strenuous rides. Drink plenty of water and carry more with you. Thunderstorms regulary roll through the southern Sangre de Cristos, so pack rain gear and warm clothing.
At Angel Fire, mountain biking has put down deep roots. Host to pro MTB competitions in the past, the resort has built an enviable bike park. A web of trails feeds off of the high-speed Chili Express, and the park's 60-mile trail systems consumes most of the front side of the mountain. Plenty of downhill for freeride and technical MTB-ers -- 2,000 vertical drop -- and miles of easy beginner routes, too.
The northern New Mexico resort boasts a base skills park, a dual slalom course, a long uphill-only trail and upper mountain hiking offshoot. Resort quote: " ... the best skinnies, jump lines, manicured flow and super chunk trails the United States has to offer."
Over the ridge, Taos Ski Valley is in the nascent stages of bike-park bulding. The resort has carved out its MTB trail system on its backside. Lift 4 out of the Phoenix base delivers riders to the head of Kachina Basin, right below 12,481-foot Kachina Peak.
Once there, two choices await: a 4-mile green run that winds back and forth down the hill, and a 1.5-mile blue run that is more directly downhill. On the front side there area a couple of beginner flows and steep-steeps, but no lift access this summer.
Down the Rio Grande, Pajarito Mountain spreads across 280 acres below a ridge above Los Alamos. Volunteer-built and raw in nature, the Pajarito Bike Park begins on the Aspen and Mother chairlifts that run up the middle of the trail map. Topping out at more than 10,000 feet, some 48 trails total 39 miles in length, and tend toward the higher skill levels on both downhill and technical routes.
The lifts run on Saturdays and Sundays only, and tickets must be bought at the hill. The park is part of the Mountain Bike Power Pass system that includes all-summer season access to Brian Head in southern Utah, Purgatory in southwest Colorado, and Spider Mountain Bike Park in Austin, Texas.
According to Punxsutawney Phil’s forecast, we should be ending our six-week stretch of remaining winter, but Mother Nature has other plans with ample snow and cold in the cards. Here’s what to expect in this week’s SnoCast.
While lurking past closing hours in the mountain resort parking lot has always been the domain of the dirtbag, more ski areas are bringing the practice of overnight stays out of the shadows—and some are downright embracing the car-bound camp movement. This focus on ski resort winter camping, which accommodates visitors of lesser means—as well as nomadic adventurers—is a refreshing step back from the luxury demographic. that the ski industry habitually targets.
After an incredible November, more wintry conditions take us into December. We’ll kick it off with a cross-country storm system tracking low across the U.S.
Biking and hiking, zip lines and coasters, climbing walls and disc golf, concerts and festivals and the old-fav, a ride up the lift: ski and snowboard resorts in the West are changing gears as warm weather arrives.
It's been light Rocky Mountain powder ever since Angel Fire opened in 1966. (Angel Fire/Facebook)
The 2016-17 season is Angel Fire Resort's golden anniversary in the winter and summer recreation business, and the New Mexico resort has planned a four-day celebration Jan. 19-22 – including rollback ticket prices.
“Paying tribute to the resort’s legendary pedigree and family-friendly mountain … the four-day celebration will cater to those who grew up coming to Angel Fire Resort, who have worked for the resort, as well as, current members and guests who want to join the party,” Angel Fire’s Krysty Rochetti told SnoCountry.com.
Tickets sold for Saturday, Jan. 21, and an additional 550 tickets sold for Sunday, Jan. 22, will be just $5.50 each. Half of those tickets are available online now as part of a lodging package. The remaining 275 lift tickets for each of those days will be available at the ticket window – good for that day only. Events include throwback ski suit contest, music, food -- and lots of reminiscing.
“I would say that if people wanted to secure the $5.50 lift ticket they’d be best served to buy it as part of a lodging package online,” said Rochetti, “because waiting until the day of could be tricky. We are expecting a full resort that weekend.”
More than a half-decade ago, ranchers Roy and George LeBus looked out over their 25,000-acre ranch in the northern New Mexico mountains and saw the future: Angel Fire Resort.
By 1966, they had cut trails, installed a couple of lifts and birthed a base area. The first skiers hit the slopes in early 1967, and the word spread to nearby Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas that there was skiing within in a day’s drive.
The first condos went up in 1971 and, shortly thereafter, work began in earnest to create a year-round resort by cutting more trails, clearing housing lots and installing infrastructure. A golf course appeared across the road from the ski mountain that remains today.
Angel Fire Art + Farmers’ Market is a weekly showcase of diverse local/regional artists, live music, food artisans & fresh produce. (Angel Fire)
There are vibrant communities surrounding our favorite mountain towns, and one way to celebrate that community is to shop locally at a farmer’s market. Whether you’re a regular or a visitor exploring a new place, a farmer’s market is a great way to experience the flavors and culture of small-town life.
Skiing has always been a sport the whole family can enjoy together, but the logistics of juggling slope time with the kids can be problematic – unless the family is at Angel Fire Resort.
Angel Fire Resort has become a mecca for mountain bikers in the summer, so the New Mexico mountain is ramping up its terrain parks to bring that same trickster intensity to wintertime.
The storms in February tended to swing toward the south, putting smiles on powder hounds in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico – and finally getting Albuquerque's Sandia Peak open.
Better late than never. A south-arcing storm system this week put enough snow down at Pajarito Mountain Ski Area to get the lifts finally spinning for the 2015 season.
The lift towers are in, the cables set to be strung, and the buzz around Taos Ski Valley’s new chairlift to Kachina Peak is palpable.
On a weekend powder day at Taos Ski Valley, some 60 skiers on the hill will be knee-dipping through the fluff on telemarking equipment.
For thousands of Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas skiers and snowboarders, the first mountains they hit when they head west are the Southern Rockies. Angel Fire Resort wants to be their first -- and only -- destination.
Father’s Day is Sunday, June 16. Let him know he’s appreciated by celebrating his day at a ski resort. Here’s a sampling of how resorts can make it fun and easy.