- Overall Rating 4
- Family Friendly 5
- All Mtn. Terrain 4
- Terrain Park 5
- Nightlife 2
Back to Basics at Angel Fire
Tucked away into the beautiful, isolated Moreno Valley in north-central New Mexico is a fine snow sports Mecca, Angel Fire, where you can enjoy downhill, Nordic or tele skiing, snowboarding, check your moves out in a hair-raising terrain park and the state’s only halfpipe, or even rent snow bikes, inner tubes or get about on shortie skis. It’s all about the slippin’ n slidin’ at AF.
It’s the kind of place where people might ski in Carhartt overalls, call their skis “sliders” and poles “pokers” but that’s not to imply the resort is backward. In fact, Angel Fire has the state’s only two high-speed quads, which cut the former 22-minute ride (on a good day) to the summit to 9 minutes.
They’ve matched this with extensive snowmaking, but this winter Mother Nature has been making herself felt, and the resort is enjoying record snowfalls. It’s rare for the whole mountain to be open, but last weekend, in early February, everything was skiable—including the narrow, steep, north-facing Maxwell’s Grant and Silver Chute. There was still pow to be found two days after the last storm (which sadly was followed by very high winds) in the resort’s 13 acres of new glades. Generally the trees at AF are so tight there is not a lot of just poking around in the woods for stashes but the edges of runs, where the cat’s couldn’t reach, were still satiny.
With 2,077 feet of vertical, AF is taller than it appears, and with the high-speed lifts, and a bit of hike-to terrain, even healthy athletes can get worked here skiing the steeps at the top of the mountain. But really, Angle Fire’s forte is long cruisers suited for novices and intermediates—especially on the resort’s “front side.” One run here, the appropriately titled Headin’ Home, is 2.5 miles long! Better skiers will love racing down well-groomed runs like Bodacious, Lower Free Flight or Headin’ Home with their gentle roll-overs.
For the best sustained pitch on the mountain, strong intermediates and up should head to Nice Day, which runs down a long ridge that used to support the resort’s early “backside” chair. A few other, shorter, but even steeper runs, peel off its side: Hari Kari, Charisma and Minder Binder.
Angel Fire also produces more special events than any other New Mexico resort, and for this 40th anniversary season, the resort is bringing the goods. Anyone age 40 can ski for free (just bring a valid picture ID). And, 5th graders also play for free here. Other notable events include the USASA Slopestyle Comp on Feb. 24; the Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge on March 10; the Fiesta del Sol Spring Break on March 17-18; and New Mexico Appreciation Day March 23 (state residents slide for free—bring a valid ID).
Angel Fire is most appealing to families, and there are few lodging choices other than condos. Most everyone must bring what they need, as there isn’t a major grocery store here. Restaurants are also few and far between. And the only nightlife is an occasional band at the venerable Zebadiah’s, or in the Angel Fire Resort Hotel bar during holidays. So don’t come expecting a party scene. Come for the slippin’ n slidin’, and hanging with friends and family--the true essence of any snow sports outing when you strip away the gloss, the spas, the pricey dining and $1,000 ski outfits.