9 Best Places for Cross Country Skiing in New Mexico!

Under your own steam, with arms and legs moving in rhythmic motion, you can glide across the pristine and silent beauty of some of New Mexico's most spectacular mountains and forests by strapping on a pair of cross-country skis. Whether you stride or skate, with poles in hand and a gentle push, you can traverse snow-covered landscapes and gently meandering slopes on groomed trails or backcountry paths you carve yourself. Dress in layers, pack a lunch, and take a skiing walkabout in the winter wonderland of enchantment.

Enchanted Forest Cross Country Ski Area, Red River, NM

A great day in the snow is the takeaway from New Mexico's largest full-service cross-country ski area. Whether you like classic or freestyle skiing, you'll find your mountain high on more than 30 kilometers of 12 to 16-foot-wide groomed trails, from rugged to easy. You can take your dog along, too—five kilometers of trails are just for you and your companion. Pack a lunch and head out on a backcountry trail for a pristine glide through the snow surrounded by spectacular views and the Carson National Forest vistas. Open seven days a week, December through March.

Chama Valley Ski Area, Chama, NM

This resort is almost at the Colorado border in the southernmost section of the San Juan Mountains, part of the rugged Rocky Mountain range. Five kilometers of marked, ungroomed trails take you into the Edward Sargent Wildlife Management Area, as well as access to various backcountry trails and the perfect powder found there. If you go in January, cheer on the racers at the Chama Chili Ski Classic and Winter Fiesta, an annual event. Check the website for season dates and snow conditions.

Valles Caldera Cross Country Ski Area, Los Alamos, NM

The quiet hush of your skis sliding across the powdery snow is all you'll hear on these 35 miles of trails—groomed or ones you make yourself—as you explore the more than 5,000 acres here. The Valle Grande area is for beginners, but if you've got some experience, head out to the South Mountain and History Grove trails. Dogs on a leash are welcome on the La Jara K9 Trail and in ungroomed areas with snow. Try a little night skiing while you're there, too! Open Friday through Sunday from late December to early April.

Angel Fire Resort, Angel Fire, NM

At 8,600 feet above sea level, skiing here is a Rocky Mountain high. Views of Wheeler Peak, New Mexico's highest point, add to the beauty of 30 acres and 22 kilometers of trails, groomed for the classic or skate cross-country skier. A little single track mixed in with a mixture of rugged, intermediate, and easy makes this the perfect place for all skill levels. Open Friday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., from early December to mid-March. Trail maps are located at the trailhead; grab one before heading out.

Pajarito Mountain, Los Alamos, NM

The Nordic ski area is located on the eastern edge of the Jemez Mountains. There are 12 kilometers of trails, all taken care of by the Los Alamos Ski Club. Single-track, double-track, and skating lanes provide options for all interests—easy, intermediate, and expert cross-country skiers will all find challenging trails. Views of the Rio Grande Valley and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains infuse this open-air experience with spectacular beauty and snow-covered splendor. Upper meadow skiing provides peaceful solitude. Dogs are allowed only on the Canada Bonita Lower Road, meadow, and backcountry. Open late November to early April.

Amole Canyon, Taos, NM

This winter gem is 16 miles south of Taos in the Carson National Forest. Given the 8,100-foot elevation, the nine kilometers of trails often have good snow conditions throughout winter. Eight marked trails cover about 20 miles, diverse enough for beginners and experts. A namesake trail, Amole Loop, is an easy path that takes you across gentle slopes through flat meadows and quiet ponderosa pine forests. The Upper and Lower Loop follow old logging roads and are more complex. Ski by the light of the moon for a nocturnal adventure. Pick up a trail map in Penasco or get one from the forest service website.

Sandia Crest Cross Country Skiing, Albuquerque, NM

You'll find the beginning of a couple of ungroomed trails at the 10K and Ellis Trailheads off Scenic Byway 536 and from the Sandia Crest parking lot and Upper Tramway terminal at Sandia Peak. As part of the Cibola National Forest, you'll slip through a pinon juniper, sub-alpine spruce, and fir forest. Stop by the Sandia Ranger Station to check snow conditions and for a map for access to these and other wilderness trails.

Manzano Mountain State Park, Mountainair, NM

This 160-acre park has about five miles of trails that are just right for beginners when snow conditions are good. Its name means "apple tree" in Spanish, which is long gone, but you will see impressive ponderosa pine and alligator junipers on your ski journey through the forests of this mountain range in the central part of the state. Trail maps are available at the park's office or website. There's an entry fee for all visitors.

Norski Cross Country Ski Track, Santa Fe, NM

Find your rhythm on this 2.5-mile loop just right for beginners and with enough up-and-down to test the legs of more experienced skiers. Located just below the Ski Basin, the figure-eight layout of this trail has many crossovers, so skiers can adapt to their skill level but avoid difficult sections. Snowshoers and dogs are not permitted.

This text was created by the author with the assistance of GPT-3, a large-scale language generation model developed by OpenAI. The author reviewed, edited, and revised the draft language to their satisfaction and is fully responsible for the content of this publication.

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