Perhaps the greatest shock for out-of-state skiers and snowboarders visiting Northern New Mexico is not how excellent the skiing can be here but that it exists at all. But it does, right at Ski Santa Fe! Ski Santa Fe is opening for the 2023 – 2024 season on Thanksgiving, Thursday, November 23. Read on for details!
When one is strolling about the Santa Fe Plaza on a sunny winter day with hardly a flake of snow in sight, it’s hard to believe that just 16 miles away, but 3,000 feet higher on the slopes of the mighty Sangre de Cristo range, snow piles up five to ten feet in depth and a complete ski area is busy serving up delightful days in a world of white.
Ski Santa Fe: It’s the Altitude
The secret is all about the altitude. Topping out at a lung-burning 12,075 feet, even under the bright and almost ever-present sun, the 225 inches or so of snow that falls annually is protected from melting, and the exceptionally high treeline (at some 12,000 feet) helps reduce wind scouring.
In this setting, the families that have overseen Ski Santa Fe since its founding in the early 1950s — including the Blakes who went on to found and run world-famous Taos Ski Valley, the Pitchers, and for the past 20 years the Abruzzos, have carved out a ski area with a terrific variety of run types. This ranges from a dedicated beginner section with its own lifts, to wide and excellently groomed intermediate cruising slopes, challenging mogul runs, some tricky — if short — chutes, and some of the best tree and glade skiing in the state through nicely spaced Engelmann spruce and Douglas fir forests.
What’s New at Ski Santa Fe
This winter, a new RFID system will automatically scan one’s lift ticket, speeding up chairlift loading. The new system also allows guests to buy the reusable plastic ticket online and reload it remotely as the season progresses. Kiosks in the base area will issue the passes, precluding the need to visit the ticket windows.
“It is the answer to the question, ‘How can we get people on the mountain faster, and standing less in line,’” notes area spokesman Eric Thompson.
On the slopes, advanced skiers and boarders will have new terrain to explore with the ambitious tree thinning undertaken on the lower portion of North Burn and in Bozo’s Glade. The thinning has opened lots of new lines and helped fireproof overgrown slopes. In addition, you’ll find small but significant improvements made to facilities.
Ski Santa Fe Details
Ski Santa Fe has a vertical drop of 1,725 feet spread across 660 acres. It has a ski school with a wide range of group and private lesson programs; an excellent child care center called Chipmunk Corner that gets kids out on the snow for either play or actual skiing; a retail shop for essentials; a rental shop; a ski/board tuning service; and an Adaptive Ski Program for disabled boarders or skiers.
There are a few options for dining: in the base area a large cafeteria with hot and cold foods, and the mid-mountain Totemoff’s with full bar and a limited but good menu — try the tamales! It hosts a handful of special events annually.
Ski Santa Fe offers a variety of ticket options, including half-day, full-day, multi-day, and various passes. Kids ages 5 and under ski for $16, as do seniors ages 72 and up.
It can be accessed from Santa Fe via a public transportation service called the Blue Bus. It makes stops at the Fort Marcy Recreation Center, the South Capitol Rail Runner Station, and downtown Santa Fe. For details, visit RideTheBlueBus.com.
There are no overnight accommodations at the ski area, but the town of Santa Fe, just 30 minutes away, has a huge variety of options, plus world-class dining and museums, hundreds of one-of-a-kind shops, and other attractions.
The 2023–24 Ski Season
Ski Santa Fe will open for the 2023–24 season from November 23 and anticipates being open through April 7. The best powder skiing usually falls between mid-January and mid-March, but spring skiing on corn can also be delightful.
Here’s a November 17 update from the folks at Ski Santa Fe
Ski Santa Fe will open for the 2023 – 2024 Season on Thursday, November 23! The Super Chief Quad and Sierra Double chairlifts will be running, taking skiers and riders to Upper Midland, Midland, and Lower Midland. Beginner skiing will be accessed via the Easy Street Double Chair and Pine Flats Conveyor. El Nino is running a bit late, but in the meantime our snowmakers are hard at work. Additional terrain will open as conditions allow.
All facilities are open including La Casa Lodge, La Casa Café, Ski Santa Fe Sports Shop, Ski & Snowboard Rental Shop, and Baz Coffee Bar. Totemoff’s Bar & Grill will be open to serve guests at mid-mountain. Visit the Snow Sports School and Chipmunk Corner Children’s Center for ski or snowboard lessons.
Lift tickets, lesson packages, and rentals are now available for purchase online. Grab a Peak Plus Pass or One Pass and ride all winter long at a discounted daily rate. New this year is the Santa Fe Express Ticket. This allows guests to link their preferred payment directly to a reloadable ticket and bypass the ticket office all season.
Ski Santa Fe maintains an active Facebook page and Instagram account with lots of photos and reports from staff and patrons. For further details on operations and programs, call 505-982-4429 or visit SkiSantaFe.com.
Top image: Ski Santa Fe has some of the best tree and glade skiing in New Mexico. Photo credit: Mountain Standard Creative.
Story by Daniel Gibson
Daniel Gibson was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award from the New Mexico Ski Hall of Fame in October 2022 for his snowsports writing. He is the co-author of Images of America: Skiing in New Mexico (Arcadia Publishing, 2021), with 183 historic photos; and author of New Mexico’s only comprehensive ski guidebook, Skiing New Mexico: Snow Sports in the Land of Enchantment (UNM Press, 2017). He is a member of the North American Snowsports Journalist Association and has written on the topic for newspapers coast to coast, websites, and magazines including Powder, Ski, and Wintersport Business. He can be reached at [email protected] or via DanielBGibson.com.