Located in the rustic town of Red River in New Mexico, the Red River Ski & Summer Area offers an intimate, family-friendly skiing experience. Simply put, you can’t get lost at this resort featuring a nice range of ski runs for all levels. Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or expert skier or snowboarder, you’ll find beautiful forest trails from top to bottom. Located about two-and-half hours from Santa Fe, Red River’s secluded location deters mass crowds. That may be the best part. A congenial family ski resort with short lift lines and few crowds.
Family-Friendly, Crowd Free: Red River Ski Area
One thing families will not find at Red River Ski Area: Crowds. What you will find is a laid-back, family-friendly ski experience. On a recent visit there we were giddy with delight at having the slopes practically to ourselves. Locals say that while weekends can get a little busy, the weekdays are an ideal time for families seeking elbow room on groomed trails and in small ski classes.
In fact, during our mid-week trip in January, we had the pleasure of skiing with locals who seemed eager to show us around this charming resort situated at the top of New Mexico’s Enchanted Circle in the Southern Rockies.
Red River Ski Area: The Mountain
Red River is a small, unassuming town (about 500 residents) proud of its family-owned ski resort. Nothing fancy, just a happy place where people come to have a good time on and off the slopes. The mountain has half a dozen old-school lifts that service 57 trails, of which only 30 percent are for experts. That means most of the mountain is ideal for cruising on long runs from the top (at over 10,000 feet) to bottom and through aspen-lined trails under mostly blue skies.
Kids (and adults) love skiing through Moonstar Mining Camp, a replica of a mining town. Nearby, there’s also a rustic, open-air chapel where some people get married.
Red River’s terrain parks are maintained daily and offer skiers and riders challenging elements. With short lift lines we got in a lot of skiing and by day’s end, I was ready to ski the short but steep mountain face. Red River’s amenities include ski and snowboard classes for kids and adults.
Snow Coach Dinner Tour
A trip highlight was a twilight ride up to the mountain top inside a toasty warm snowcat – decked out for comfort, (hence, the name snow coach) – for an exquisite dinner at Tip Restaurant, perched at an elevation of 10,350 feet. On that evening, we were the only ones in the restaurant and were pampered by Chef Kai Dunbar, a food and beverage manager whom we also skied with during our stay since these lucky guys get to ski when they’re not working! The snow coach dinners are offered twice each evening.
The Menu: you get a choice of salmon or steak. We opted for the garlic stuffed blackened rib eye with a white wine green chili cream sauce, served with salad, rosemary roasted red potatoes and garlic roasted Parmesan green beans. The cost of $70 per person was well worth it. There’s also a children’s menu with chicken tenders and macaroni and cheese.
Where to Eat in Red River Ski Area
For a small town, Red River has many dining options.
Slope-side, the Main Chalet Cafeteria is open for breakfast and lunch. Located near the beginner hill, the spacious restaurant has many long tables, making it a convenient gathering place for families. For lunch or après ski, the renovated and expanded Lift House Bar & Grill is the happening place. On weekends, there’s live music. Enjoy green chili stew, Frito pie, tacos and burgers while watching skiers speed down the face of the mountain. To warm up and relax after a day of skiing we indulged in a little shot ski (six shot glasses secured on a ski).
You’ll find more dining options in town, just a stone’s throw from the ski area. We walked to several mom and pop eateries, including Old Tymer’s Cafe (serving the best breakfast in town), and Yesterday’s Diner (one of our lunch hangouts). One of my favorite restaurants is Capo’s, an Italian restaurant with a cozy ambiance.
Where to Sleep in Red River Ski Area
Red River has many condos within walking distance of the slopes. The Auslander Lodge and Condominiums are mere steps from the slopes, and offer one – four bedroom units.
We stayed in a two-bedroom, two-bath condo with a kitchen, living room, fireplace and two decks – perfect for a family. Auslander amenities include laundry facilities, conference area, hot tub and children’s play area. Managers Dan and Sherri Foley were very welcoming, warmly greeting guests and asking about their stay.
Red River offers family fun on and off the slopes.
Read about more New Mexico’s family-friendly ski resorts.