Skiing in Red River, New Mexico
Deciding to start our young family skiing in Red River, New Mexico was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. In a previous post I wrote about skiing with kids and starting out at a smaller ski area was high on the list.
While Red River is a great place to start, there are lots of mid-small level ski areas that are perfect for families to foster their love of the sport. We have friends in Indianapolis that ski at Perfect North Slopes. I never would have guessed there was even a mountain there, but it’s close to them, inexpensive and fosters a love of skiing for the whole family without breaking the bank. That’s what Red River, New Mexico is to our family.
Getting there: The closest airports to Red River are Albuquerque and Santa Fe. From there, you have a 2-3 hour drive. Without any shuttles, a rental car is a necessity. During spring break people drive the entire distance from all over Texas and Oklahoma.
The surrounding town: One of the great things about Red River is that the town and the ski slopes are basically all in the same place. No matter where you stay, most things are just a short walk away. The main drag (that’s small town vocabulary for street) in Red River is quite charming. Older store fronts give this town a little bit of an old west feeling. My kids love to visit The Candy Crate. This candy store carries nostalgic candy for adults and the current things for the kids. Hubby loves the fudge too. Although we typically cook in our condo, we always eat at least one night out. In Red River, we like Capo’s. It’s great Italian food for the whole family. If it’s especially busy, we’ll just order carryout pizza and eat it back at the condo. Leftover pizza will always get eaten on a ski trip!
Accommodations: One of the biggest benefits of Red River is the proximity of the accommodations to the slopes. Booking through the red river ski area website or VRBO can get you a great condo within walking distance to the slopes and the main shopping street. All this without breaking the bank. One of our favorite condo groups is called Claim Jumper. They are like little town homes, that open up to the outside, with parking right outside the door. No need to haul your luggage up elevators and through long hallways. The ski area parking lot is so close, we just walked through it to get to ski school and the lifts.
Skiing prices: Red River website prices this year are $67/day for adults, $61/day for teens and $51/day for children. Discount sites like Liftopia could get you an even better price if you pay close attention. Other deals can be found by skiing off peak days. At least when my kids want to cut out early, I don’t feel like I’m throwing away hundreds of dollars. Renting skiis can be done directly through Red River at the bottom of the mountain, or at a ski rental shop on the main drag. My biggest recommendation is to fill out the registration forms online before your arrival. No matter what ski resort you visit, this always saves lots of time in line and filling out forms. Don’t forget to check out packages offered by the ski area. Some of those packages will include lodging and lift tickets. Be sure to run the numbers to see what offer is the best deal.
Ski school: Red River offers ski school for kids ages 4-12. The check-in is inside of a small building, which is definitely a tight squeeze in the mornings. The earlier you check in, the less crowded it will be. Some people will argue about the teaching skill level of ski schools at smaller resorts. We found every instructor at Red River to be great with kids and perfectly capable of teaching our kids the basics. Several instructors return year after year and even recognized our boys, thereby putting them in a great skiing group. I always felt like we were getting a lot for the money. One year we went a few days before spring break started and the boys were in a group by themselves. I’ll take private group lessons at ski school prices any day!
As kids get older and more advanced, a lot of parents take them out of ski school and ski together as a family. We decided to head to a larger ski resort that offered ski school to kids up through age 14. Then there is the idea of letting your kids ski the mountain on their own, without you. I have to say that a resort like Red River would be a great place to test your kid out for skiing on their own or with a sibling or friend. The size of Red River makes this mom a little less nervous about it. You’ll probably run into them on the slopes or chair lift anyway.
Skiing terrain and other activities: Red River has 7 lifts, 3 terrain parks and 57 trails for skiing and snowboarding. The trail mix is pretty even between beginner, intermediate and expert. It was easy to find places that the kids could head down a blue or green slope, while we took the black diamond and met them at the bottom. If you are the type of skier that needs brand new terrain for every run you take, Red River might be too small for you. I think the size is just right. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on a ton when I have to cut my day short to pick up the little ones. When ski school closes, Red River opens up the bunny slope for snow tubing. It’s always nice to have a fund thing to do if you decided to skip skiing for the day.
Every Saturday night there is a torchlight parade and fireworks that is fun to watch. We usually grab a glass of wine, suit up the family and watch the show from the bottom of the slopes. Now they are offering a night time snow cat tour with dinner at the Ski Tip Restaurant. They have to have 8 people for it to depart, and dinner over $100. So if you want one fancy night during your visit, that might be interesting. We’ve never done fancy dinners on ski trips, so I can’t give you a review.
Skiing in Red River, New Mexico was a perfect start to becoming a skiing family. I encourage you to find a mid-small size ski area to start with your family too.