Northern New Mexico: The New Southern Colorado

Braden Anderson | - September 15, 2011

New Mexico ski areas tap in to the jam festival scene

Northern New Mexico-  I was disappointed not to see Julie Andrews last month in the mountains of Northern New Mexico, as the hills were certainly alive with the sound of music. Two of New Mexico's top ski destinations transformed into festival grounds this past month when Taos and Angel Fire both hosted events on par with Southern Colorado jam festivals. 

In Angel Fire, the Free Ride festival was well under way when we arrived in the rain-soaked parking lot at the foot of the chairlifts.  Downhill mountain biking was the event of choice for most festival participants over the weekend.  Amidst the biking competitions, all-mountain scavenger hunt and live music it was tough to see and do everything the area had to offer.  Visible between sheets of rain, a beautiful panorama of green hills and low clouds was the setting for this extreme sports festival, the likes of which Angel Fire Resort has been putting much more attention into lately.  With the growth of neighboring Taos' Mountain Music Festival, it seems like a good move for Angel Fire.

Taos was no less drenched when we arrived on scene Sunday just in time to catch mountain festival staples Leftover Salmon and Railroad Earth. The presence of these hippie hard-hitters only reinforced the Colorado jam-festival vibe that Taos has seemed to capture (whether to their knowledge or not). If the festival management haven't been modeling their production after such popular events as Telluride's Blues and Brews,  Palisade's Roots Music Fest, Rocky Grass, or pretty much anything in Lyons or Nederland, you wouldn't be able to tell. Everything about the event is what I would have expected from a legitimate mountain music festival, including the laborious drive home afterward. 

Although camping and hotel rooms are available at both destinations, the location couldn't be more convenient for not only Santa Feans, but residents of Taos, Espanola, Chimayo, Los Alamos and other Northern New Mexico towns.  Let's not forget the target demographic here though. Dead Heads, festival followers, new age hippies, basically the entire Southern Colorado area.  The Ski Resorts of Northern New Mexico have a great opportunity to tap into a scene that is quickly gaining momentum in Southern Colorado.  Why not?  After all, the landscape is similar, the music is similar, and the attendees are, well, exactly the same