Guest post by Granny Janey, January 2, 2016
(Reposted with updates, December 30, 2016)
This post, originally presented 12 months ago, is for parents of children from infancy through 12 – those sweet pre-teen ages that are in their innocent discovery years. Such fun to travel with these little people!
With four downhill ski resorts in the Taos area, two groomed and marked cross country areas, and endless acres of forested wilderness, northern New Mexico is an ideal vacation destination for adventurous families in the winter months. I’ve asked each ski resort for its top kid-friendly activities, events, and special deals.
Here’s a look at what I found, with some off-slope suggestions to keep a balance between body and mind, action and culture for your little sweethearts.
Our 4 Ski/Ride Resorts’ Top 3 Activities
Children’s Ski School Center
Bebecare (6-weeks to 11-months), Kinderkare (1- to 3-years) and Junior Elite I, II, and III are all located in a state-of-the-art facility. Many options for lessons, childcare and on-snow fun with trained instructors.
Bambi Glade Beginner Terrain Park
This park is located on the front side of the mountain, just off Powderhorn and Whitefeather. The park features two surface boxes, a 4′ x 8′ ride-on box, and a beginner jump, the perfect place to begin your kids’ freestyle snow sports adventure.
Multiple lanes promise a fast, fun descent for all ages. A moving carpet carries kids back to the top after each ride. Tickets are available at the Pit House Warming Hut, located next to the Strawberry Hill Tubing Park. Kids 7-17, $10; 6 and under free.
Children’s Ski and Snowboard School
For kids 3 through 12.The smallest class sizes in the region with longer on-snow time. Up-to-date rentals and helmets, and lift tickets are complimentary. Every child is equipped with Flaik GPS technology so parents can track their activity and share the day online in the evening.
Snow Bear Camp Day Care
For ages 6 weeks to 24 months, this is a structured indoor/outdoor program with snacks provided. Reservations at 575-377-4320.
Sledding Hill at Angel Fire Country Club
For safety, the sledding hill is an activity for kids 12 and younger only. Each child needs to have their own sled and adults are not allowed on sleds. (Sleds and discs may be rented at the Nordic Center for $5.) To confirm hours of operation, call the Nordic Center at 575-377-4488.
RED RIVER SKI AND SUMMER AREA
Youth Ski/Ride Center
The Center offers class packages and private lesson for children ages 4 to 12 (private lessons only for 3 year olds). Lesson packages include lesson, lift ticket, and rental equipment for one price, with or without lunch. The Youth Center coaches are specially trained and love to create a safe, fun learning experience for your children. 575-754-2223 ext. 218
Buckaroo Day Care Center
Children from six months to 4 years of age are provided a full day of childcare – complete with activities, crafts, snacks and lunch, rest time, and outdoor play. Reservations not required but there are a limited number of slots available each day. 575-754-2223 ext. 218
Three Terrain Parks
The best one for the younger kids is Pot O Gold located on Gold Rush Hill.
First 3 Lessons Free Deal
The “Frequent Sliders Club” is for first-time skiers and snowboarders age 7 and older. It offers first-timers free lessons with the purchase of one full-day, full-price lift ticket (three-time limit).
New Quad Lift
Sipapu’s first quad can accommodate four skiers or snowboarders at a time, which means parents and kids can ride together.
Four Terrain Parks
Sipapu has four distinct terrain parks, including the only organic terrain parks in the state, Playground and Flight School, which are built entirely from resources found on the mountain and in the surrounding Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels will find at least one park to their liking.
Nordic Wilderness Adventures
The best times for family cross country skiing or snowshoeing in the Rio Grande National Forest, 12 miles north of the Village of Chama, are three weekends in January. In 2017, those are the 7th and 8th, the 14th through 16th, and 21st and 22nd. Trails are groomed and marked in this time period in preparation for the 44th Annual Chama Chile Ski Classic on January 14-16, Martin Luthur King Weekend.
Another good spot in the Chama area for family snowshoeing and X-C skiing is the Sargent Wildlife Area, owned by New Mexico Game and Fish Department and maintained by the Chama Valley Outdoor Club.
Find a map of x-c skiing and snowmobile areas north of Chama (3MB PDF).
ENCHANTED FOREST X-C SKI AREA, RED RIVER
Learn to Ski Packages for kids age 5-12 cost just $35 and include a 1-hour lesson, gear, and trail pass. This resort is dog friendly. Learn more.
Lodging Specials for Families
Red River’s Ski Free/Stay Free program has to top the list for family snow-centric vacation bargains! Twenty-one town properties participate in the program which is structured as a “free lift ticket and lodging for each kid accompanied by a paying adult.” Offer is for kids 12 and under and there are a few black-out dates.
Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort offers a twist on the kids-ski-free concept: Parents Ski Free Week. Calling themselves “the most Family-Friendly resort in the Rockies,” this deal gives a free adult lift ticket for each full-day, full-priced child or teen lift ticket purchased. Sipapu also has discounted lodging offers in collaboration with several Town of Taos properties. See more.
How about staying in a Yurt?! Yurts are semi primitive camping, but comfortable. You’ll have to pack in some bedding and your food, but what an adventure for the kids! There are several yurt rental opportunities in northern New Mexico, most in the Chama area, accessible only by snowshoeing or cross country skiing:
Southwest Nordic Center five yurts, Taos Ski Valley and Chama area
Spruce Hole Yurt north of Chama, in southern Colorado
Enchanted Forest Yurts in Red River
Top Winter 2017 Events Welcoming Families
Every Saturday at 7pm – Rail Jam, Torchlight Parade & Fireworks at Red River Ski & Summer Area
Jan 13 -15 – Winter Festival at Red River
Jan 14 – USASA Rail Jam at TSV for ages 9 to adult
Jan 14, Feb 11, Mar 11 – Moonlight Hike & Campfire at Sipapu – smores, fires, hot cocoa
Jan 14-16 – Chama Chile Ski Classic/Winter Fiesta
Jan 22 – World Snowboard Day at Sipapu
Jan 28-29 – USASA Southwest Showdown Boarder/SkiCross at Angel Fire Resort – Southwest’s young top riders
Feb 3-4 – World Championship Shovel Races at Angel Fire Resort
Feb 10-13 – National IFSA Jr. Freeride at TSV
Feb 18-20 – February FunFest at Sipapu – giant snow castle, costume contest and parade (on Saturday), treasure hunts
Feb 25 – Just Desserts Eat ‘n Ski at Enchanted Forest
March 11 – Cardboard Derby at Sipapu
Mar 20-24 – The Yeti Club at Sipapu – kids ages 6-10 spring break: 4 days of skiing instruction & fun for kids
See more events at BeyondTaos.
Off-slope Activities for Families
Taos Pueblo, a World Heritage site and home to Tewa Indians for a thousand year, is a must-see! But be forewarned the pueblo closes for private time in March and part of April. Check in advance. 575-758-1028
Apres-ski S’mores, anyone? Taos Ski Valley’s Rhoda’s and Tenderfoot Katie’s sell S’mores kits for do-it-yourself fun on the deck after a day on skis. Kits are $12 each.
Apres-ski in Angel Fire includes a sleigh. Take the family on an old-fashioned, horse-drawn sleigh ride through the snow covered landscape. Hot chocolate (or coffee) or a winter dinner by a mountain campfire tops off the experience.
Red River Community House has been providing skiing families off-slope fun for over 75 years. Really! In 2016, Saturday evening family parties are called Glow Nights. They’re from 7:30 to 9:00pm.
Taos Youth and Family Center
Ice skating, year-round indoor swimming pool, a three-seasons outdoor skate park, a free computer lab and wireless internet, as well as a number of youth-oriented events, dances and daily programming for all ages. Center opens at 9 am 7 days a week (except some holiday dates), closing at 8 pm during the week and at 9 pm on weekends. 407 Paseo del Canon East, Taos, 575-758-4160; Skating 575-758-4160; Pool 575-737-2583
Taos Public Library
402 Camino de la Placita, Taos, 575-758-3063
The library’s children’s book collection covers a broad range of fiction and non-fiction titles as well as magazines, audio books, CD’s, DVD’s and Videos for children. There are also five internet accessible computers in the children’s library for the exclusive use of children 18 and under. Its children’s librarians provide activities for youngsters from infants through grade school; story time and crafts for toddlers is held every Thursday at 10:30 am throughout the year.
Harwood Museum of Art in Taos
238 Ledoux Street, Taos, 575-758-9826
Families are always welcome in the Harwood Museum. Admission is free to children under 12. Family Days and Art Exploration Workshops are listed on the museum’s website calendar.
Twirl Playspace in Taos
225 Camino de la Placita, Taos, NM 87571 • 575-751-1402
It’s a toy store, a playground and a fun school! A few regular events that welcome drop-ins:
Tuesdays 10:30 am – 11:15 pm Family Music with Ivy
Tuesdays 1:00 pm – 1:45 pm Baby Music with Ivy
Fridays 10:15 am – 10.45 am Family Music with Ivy
Fridays 11:00 am – 11.45 am. Pre-Ballet with Ms Amber
Imagination Stations in the Twirl Play Room
Marble maze, Lego wall, building blocks, magnet wall, peg board and creative Make It Space. All the materials you need to build, craft, create and play. Parental supervision is essential, no instructor present.
Outdoor Fun in the Twirl courtyard
Filled with fun installations including soft Play Smart climbing structure, tree houses, sand pit, giant musical instruments and board games, water play, ride-ons, it’s open every day from 10 – 6 pm on a free, drop-in basis. Climb, ride, slide, splash, dig and have fun just bring your grown-ups as parental supervision is essential.
Sources for more family travel ideas in northern New Mexico