Reviewed by Jake Davis
Dec 04, 2008
1,294 acres of fall-away chutes, spacious glades, and pillowy moguls, with extra rewards if you’re willing to hike Kachina Peak
The Stash: Take Sunset, skier’s right of the Tesuque Peak chair. Wiggle through the fir, and tuck onto slender Luge, before dropping into boulder-strewn Avalanche Basin.
Seven things you need to know to ski Angel Fire.
1. You'll ski Red River because you want a family destination that's affordable, fun, and has enough going on to keep everyone satisfied. And because you're really into flannel. If you envision a town that's the polar opposite of, say, Vail, Red River is it. It's pure New Mexican mountain town—part mining town and part Bavarian settlement with establishments like The Bull 'O The Woods Tavern next to Der Markt, the town’s grocery store. Almost every hotel is ski in/ski out thanks to chairlifts that descend to Main Street. On mountain you'll have numerous intermediate runs to choose from along with two terrain parks. But it's the steeps that should draw your attention: You'll probably be the only one skiing them.
2. Start your day at Red River's base lodge by eating a breakfast burrito smothered in red and green chile and filled with bacon, eggs, and anything else you can think of. Enjoy it in the cafeteria that looks like it belongs in any small town high school, only with a much better view.
3. End your day (and all of your runs, if you're so inclined) at the Lift House at the bottom of the Red Chair. Owner Tim House, the guy who happens to be the husband of part owner Lauren Judycki-House, has turned the Lift House into one of Red River's finer watering holes. If you don't need a beer, stop in to observe the scene: Anything that happens at Red River starts or ends here.
4. How to ski a powder day: Red River's market is geared heavily towards intermediates and beginners, so people willing to even venture into steeper terrain are few. Your first stop should be the Red Chair where, on the ride up, you'll see numerous short but steep shots to your right. The best of these is Bad Medicine, a menacing line with a nasty dog leg and double fall line in the middle. Get there by side stepping up from the top of the Red Chair to Cat Skinner. If you get bored with lines under the Red Chair (which isn't likely), head over to the Copper Chair and note the steep, straight fall-line terrain below the chair. Check with the patrol if you can ski it, and then lap turns on it. Stay to the middle of the line as lots of hidden dead trees lurk at the edges of the run. If you get short on fresh lines, look into the trees left and right of Miners Alley.
5. Where to ski three days later: Chances are you'll still be able to find lines in the steeps off Red Chair. For secret stashes, there are two options. (1) At the dogleg in Bad Medicine, go straight into the trees rather than following the run to skier’s left. The trees are tight but steep and won’t have been skied. (2) The other safe bet are the trees next to Chicken Drop. They aren't exactly gladed, but if you look hard enough, you'll find a few nicely spaced lines.
6. Where to stay: One of the best aspects of Red River is it's lodging. Inexpensive, well appointed, and not a hotel room, you can find great deals at one of the many lodges and cabins. Don't forget that almost all of them are within two blocks of a chair lift and no less than half a block from at least one bar. Save Cash: Most places start at under $50 per night. Check out the Three Bears Lodge at the base of the Copper Chair. These small cabins will comfortably fit a group of friends or a family and keep you centrally located in town [3bearsrr.com]. Splurge: Despite its rustic feel, Red River offers its guest some finer things as well. Try the Eisenhut Condominiums [theeisenhut.com] or the Stizmark Lodge [stizmarklodgenm.com].
7. Where to eat. On the hill, the Lift House is your go-to place. The burgers are fantastic and they offer an expanding line of micro-brew beers. At night, Timbers has a great selection from seared Ahi to what might be New Mexico's largest chicken fried steak. After dinner, the Bull O' The Woods or the MotherLode Saloon are great bets. Go during Mardi Gras and you'll find the town in full party mode, including the annual drink competition in which bars compete to make the best new drink recipe. Mostly, this turns into a complex dance routine involving cowboy boots, bar stools, and flaming 151.