Snow Trax | Exciting On-Mountain Improvements for Skiers |
Night descends at Telluride Ski Resort.

Exciting On-Mountain Improvements Announced

| By Snowsports Journalist Daniel Gibson |

Top Image: Night descends on Telluride and the older portion of the ski area and historic town. Photo by Brett Schreck, courtesy Telluride Ski Resort.

In addition to the numerous changes to be found at Taos Ski Valley and a few at Ski Santa Fe, as reported in last week’s column, here’s a look at other improvements made at regional ski areas in the off-season. Conditions and open status of the areas are found at the bottom of the article.

Angel Fire Resort

Marketing Director Greg Ralph reports, “We’re seeing an increase in families coming here to simply enjoy time in the snow. Along with skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, and night skiing, we are also creating fun, interactive, entertainment opportunities for families and couples who come to Angel Fire Resort.”

This will include a rotating series of “snow-play activities” at the base, such as snowman-making contests, ice sculpture demonstrations, relay games, and snowball fights for kids. There is a new bar called Zia at the base that will serve s’mores and hot chocolate, and the resort will offer mixology classes, whiskey tastings, cooking demonstrations for couples, and themed crafts and game nights for kids. Several live musical entertainment performances are also being scheduled throughout venues at the resort. AFR will also work with local outfitters to provide horse-drawn sleigh rides, expand cross-country skiing trails/tours, and arrange snowmobile tours within the Enchanted Circle.

Additional non-skiing activities from previous years also will return, including a four-lane tubing hill, an old-fashioned sledding hill, and evening snowshoe hikes with stargazing guided tours.

Wolf Creek

Wolf Creek Ski Area
It won’t be long before we are enjoying days like these at Wolf Creek and other regional areas. Photo courtesy Wolf Creek.

Wolf Creek, already recognized a leader in sustainable business practices, with its all-solar power system, constructed an onsite EV charging station in the off-season. The charging station offers five connections with one being Level 3 (fast charge – 100 amps) and the remaining four being Level 2 (medium charge – 30 amps). A two-year installation project of a 750,000-gallon water tank, to assist with snowmaking and fire suppression, also began this summer. And, two new Prinoth snowcats were added to Wolf Creek’s extensive fleet of grooming equipment.

Wolf Creek’s website and e-commerce platforms are currently under construction. They will debut soon, with a modernized, full-width format and easier navigation. Its new e-commerce functions will include rental reservations, tickets, season passes, gift cards, ski school, and retail.

The area will also be operating its parking shuttle services, its groomed Nordic skiing track, and a full schedule of fun races this winter, along with a number of Local Appreciation Days with discounted lift tickets.


The small but ambitious area on the Rio Pueblo has expanded its free kids’ season pass to include all children ages 12 and under (formerly 10 and under), and is resuming many of its signature special events. Details will follow in subsequent columns.

Pajarito Mountain

Its sister area, Pajarito, will also resume events like the Skiesta and rail jams. It invested $250,000 in a new liner for its snowmaking pond, which will be filled and ready for use in the 2022-23 season.

Enchanted Forest XC & Snowshoe Area

Ellen Miller-Goins, owner of New Mexico’s only dedicated Nordic ski operation, notes, “We added a new yurt — the Glade Yurt — in the Dog Trails area, where people can ski or snowshoe with their dogs. And, after a one-year hiatus due to COVID-19, we are bringing back events, including the Luminaria tour and Just Desserts.” For details, see their website.


Purg has invested more than $2 million in the off-season to enhance visitors’ experience, including more than doubling snowmaking capacity. After last season’s social closures, Purgatory will also welcome guests back to the Adirondack chairs on The Beach, and the return of the Inferno Mountain Coaster on opening day. The Snow Coaster Tubing Hill will reopen for the holiday season.

COVID-19 policies this year include the need for all online ordering and payment of rental gear, ticket orders, and lessons. Cafeteria orders must also be made online, while reservations are required for dining at Dante’s and Purgy’s.

Crested Butte Mountain Resort

CBMR is celebrating its 60th anniversary this winter. Changes there include installation of a new fixed-grip triple chair, the Peachtree, at the area’s base for beginner skiers. Grading of terrain the lift serves will also aid learning skiers by providing a more consistent slope. They’ve also increased their commitment to recycling, plus the composting of all food wastes.

Ski CONDITIONS – As of Dec. 8, 2021

A storm is finally providing some moisture, as this is written on Wednesday morning, so the depths reported here might be slightly, or substantially, greater.

Ski Santa Fe reports a 20-inch base, with 11 inches of natural snow so far. Six percent of its terrain is open.  The Super Chief quad is running, serving one run from its top, Midland. Also open is beginner terrain at the base. They are busy making snow as conditions allow. They are operating at full capacity this season, with walk up tickets available, but facemasks are required indoors.

Lift 1 at Taos Ski Valley
Lift 1 at Taos Ski Valley is enveloped in a storm, promising good days ahead on the slopes. Courtesy TSV.

Taos Ski Valley has 18-24 inches. Chair 1 is running, serving Whitefeather and Powderhorn. Its COVID protocols this season will include the following: if eating indoors at one of the TSV owned restaurants, reservations and proof of vaccinations will be required, and masks. Outdoors dining will have none of these measures in force. Lift tickets can be purchased on site.

Wolf Creek has a 15-inch base, and launched daily operations on Dec. 8. It is 25 percent open (400 acres), including numerous beginner, intermediate and expert runs.

Sipapu has a 15-inch base, with five runs open. Red River reports 20 – 24 inches, with very limited terrain skiable. It begins daily ops Dec. 10.

Angel Fire Resort has delayed its opening until Dec. 17. Ski Apache, along with Pajarito and Sandia Peak are awaiting more snow.

Crested Butte Mountain Resort is sitting on 18 inches. It has five of 15 lifts spinning, including the Red Lady Express and the Teocalli chairs. The ice carving festival Rock On Ice returns to CBMR for the holiday season, Dec.16 – 22. Watch as talented ice carving artists create larger-than-life sculptures in the Courtyard at Mountaineer Square.

Telluride picked up six inches on Tuesday — bringing a regional best seasonal total to 47 — and has a 21-inch base. It is turning five lifts, and has seven runs open.

Purgatory got five inches on Tuesday and it’s snowing as this is written. It has a foot base, and two lifts running. Expect more lifts and runs to open soon!

Monarch Mountain, with a 14-inch base, has yet to open.

Arizona Snowbowl checks in with an 18-inch base, with six runs open and three lifts running.

Dan Gibson
Snowsports journalist Daniel Gibson, photographed at Red River.

Daniel Gibson is the author of New Mexico’s only comprehensive ski guidebook, Skiing New Mexico: Snow Sports in the Land of Enchantment (UNM Press, 2017). His brand-new book, Images of America: Skiing in New Mexico, was just released from Arcadia Publishing with 183 historic photos. He is a member of the North American Snowsports Journalist Association and has written on the topic for newspapers coast to coast, web sites, and magazines including PowderSki and Wintersport Business. His first day on wooden skis with wooden edges came at age 6 in 1960 on a snowy day at the former Santa Fe Ski Basin. He can be reached at [email protected] or via

This article was posted by Cheryl Fallstead

Please Share!

Snow Trax | Taos Avalanche Center Boosts Backcountry Safety
Lake Fork Valley showing a fracture line. Courtesy Taos Avalanche Center.

People venturing into the Wheeler Peak and Columbine Hondo Wilderness Areas near Taos Ski Valley, by far the most popular areas for backcountry skiing in New Mexico, have a valuable resource — the Taos Avalanche Center. TAC was established in 2016 by Andy Bond and Rachel Moscarella. “The sentiment was that there was a real need in Northern New Mexico for backcountry avalanche information, and avalanche education programs,” Andy explained recently while sitting on the tailgate of a truck parked near the Bavarian at Taos Ski Valley, enjoying some sun and rest.

Snow Trax | Cats and Choppers Beckon for Ski Adventures
Skiers and helicopter at Telluride.

For a rare ski adventure off the beaten track, residents of Northern New Mexico are lucky to have not one, not two, but three extraordinary options relatively close at hand. Though the buy-in is hefty, for a skiing or boarding experience you will recall with delight for the rest of your days, treat yourself to a day spent skiing from a snowcat in the backcountry, or even hitching rides on helicopters to access the untouched goods. Regionally, Purgatory Snowcat Adventures, Monarch Cat Skiing, and Telluride Helitrax all offer opportunities for some of the finest skiing in North America amidst spectacular terrain.

Hit The Ski Slopes With The Kids This Season

Ski season in northern New Mexico generally runs from Thanksgiving to Easter, when Ski Santa Fe is open for business. This means those of you with children will have to decide whether or not to get a babysitter or take the kids with you. If you’re thinking the former, you may be cheating the tots out of a great adventure. When are children old enough to ski? The general consensus is 3 to 4 years old. It really all depends … Read More

Featured Things To Do