Snow and Spice Skiing Near Santa Fe – A Foodie’s Ski Vacation

skiers on Tesuque chairlift at Ski Santa Fe on a sunny day

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When someone says the word New Mexico, thoughts of amazing cuisine, beautiful architecture and a serene desert landscape present themselves. Skiing and/or snowboarding in New Mexico doesn’t cross one’s mind when discussing the “Land of Enchantment.” Of course you can head to Taos, that’s a given, but why not do something a little different? Take another path in this beautiful state & check out a place that isn’t on most snow hound’s radars skiing near Santa Fe New Mexico. Or better yet combine them into one trip! 

What Makes Ski Santa Fe Special

el farolitos christmas lights new mexico santa fe
Farolitos in Santa New Mexico – Photo by: Jaime Pirozzi – Local Freshies®

Seventeen miles outside the town of Santa Fe, it’s not the biggest or snowiest resort in the country. What it does provide is a perfect vacation destination for couples that both don’t ski. For those that want a dash of adventure and seek out not only the skiing. Up on the mountain, you’ll find a variety of terrain for all abilities covered in New Mexico’s white gold. Once you’re done on the slopes, you’ll find a dining scene that rivals the biggest cities. A walkable city filled with culture older than the United States and world class art. It’s unlike any ski town you’ve visited before.

Desert Snow Is Lighter Than Angel Feathers

snowboarder enjoying the soft snow at Ski Santa Fe
Photo by: Jaime Pirozzi – Local Freshies®

You think Colorado and Utah have light snow? New Mexico is the stuff of legends. In fact, it’s some of the driest in the world. This is due to its high elevation and being located in the high desert of the Southwest. Instead of firm and chunky days or weeks after a storm, you’ll find chalky goodness allowing you to easily get an edge in.

Exceptional Views

With a base of 10,350 feet and vistas of over 12,750 feet, the altitude alone may take your breath away. But if not, the scenery  will. On an average year, Santa Fe is known to have over 300 days of sunshine. So, there is a very good chance you’ll get to see the panoramic view west across the vast high desert of northern New Mexico & north along the forested spine of the Sangre de Cristos.


Snowboarder overlooking the Sange De Cristo Mountains at Ski Santa Fe
Photo by: Jaime Pirozzi – Local Freshies®

The 660 acres and 1,700 vertical feet may not sound massive, but when it snows, almost every acre of it is rideable. Even when you’re waiting for the next dump, the high elevation and primarily north facing terrain keeps the quality of snow up to snuff for weeks after a storm. The 82 trails curl through towering Ponderosa Pines and provide a perfect mix of terrain so that all abilities will enjoy it.


First timers and beginners will want to focus on the lower half of the mountain accessed by the Pine Flats lift and Easy Street lifts. The wide open boulevard of the same name (Easy Street) gives beginners a lot of elbow room to gain confidence in their abilities. Advanced beginners will want to test their mettle on the slightly steeper Open Slope and Upper/Lower Midland. To access the views, you can take the main quad up and schuss down Santa Fe trail which is the easiest route from the top.


Intermediates have their pick of the lot when it comes to skiing Santa Fe. On those days that there are no fresh tracks, Upper Broadway under the lift is always groomed and has a good pitch to lay out some carves. Gay Way is THE run you need to hit. This glorious groomed pitch to the looker’s right of the Tesuque lift is the definition of jaw dropping views. On a clear day, it feels less like skiing and more like flying. As you hit the initial roll-over, its wide open slope presents itself to the 150-mile vista of the valley below. 


powder slash at ski santa fe new mexico prior to the storm
Tequila Sunrise with only a few inches of new snow – Photo by: Local Freshies®

Most of Ski Santa Fe’s expert terrain you’ll find looker’s left of the Tesuque chair. Besides Parachute, most of the advanced trails are rarely or never groomed. Luckily, you don’t need a big dump for most of this to become fun. As you can see in our picture above, with only a few inches of fresh, Tequila Sunrise was fantastic. For glade skiing, Tequila Sunrise and Easter Bowl are your best bets. And on those epic storm days, locals bee-line to Columbine, Big Rocks, and Wizard. All are very steep and are for advanced skiers.

Backcountry Policy

Ski Santa Fe has an open boundary policy, but as you would expect with dry snow, its snowpack is challenging. This high mountain range isn’t for a novice backcountry enthusiast or those who don’t know how to route plan conservatively. Be sure to read the Taos Avalanche Center forecast before you even think about stepping outside of the boundaries. You can get into some incredibly dangerous terrain very quickly. You’re on your own and don’t expect help. If do venture out, you NEED avalanche training as well as the proper gear.

One of the Oldest Cities in North America

downtown Santa Fe on a winter's night with farolitos adorning the buildings
Photo by: Jaime Pirozzi – Local Freshies®

If you do head to Ski Santa Fe, you’ll be lodging down in the capital of New Mexico. This city was founded in 1610 in the foothills of the Sangre De Cristo Mountains as a Spanish colony. Over the years, this city has grown but it has kept its Pueblo-Style Architecture & winding narrow streets that make this city different than any other place in the country. There are many amazing historical things to see, like at its center sits the Palace of the Governors. Built in the early 17th century as the seat of government for Spain, this structure is the oldest continuously occupied public building in America. Buildings like this dot the landscape and are definitely worth the time to check out after you’re finished shredding the mountain for the day.

New Mexican Cuisine

Meal at the Pantry in Santa Fe – Photo by: Jaime Pirozzi – Local Freshies®

The food… oh the food! You may come for the skiing but you’ll stay for the mouthwatering meals you’ll have. New Mexico is home to its own style of cuisine that’s a fusion of Mediterranean, Pueblo Native American, Mexican & Cowboy Chuckwagon. With ingredients like blue corn and chiles being a staple of this area, you are in for a treat. Even the official question of the state of New Mexico is “red or green?” which relates to the type of chile you want on your food. Don’t worry… the New Mexican style chile is typically not a very hot chile so it won’t burn your face off like a ghost pepper. So, what restaurants should you try if you do end up in Santa Fe?

Kakawa Chocolate House

Exterior of Kakawa Chocolate House in Santa Fe New Mexico
Photo by: Jaime Pirozzi – Local Freshies®

As you’ll begin to see with Santa Fe’s cuisine scene, this isn’t a normal chocolate shop or hot cocoa joint. Kakawa draws on chocolate’s long history, re-creating original Mesoamerican and Colonial chocolate recipes, and using them to inspire their new and exciting creations. From modern twists to chocolate elixirs that the Aztec’s drank thousands or years ago, this is a MUST visit when skiing near Santa Fe.

The Compound

Explore the Compound’s Menu

exterior of the Compound in downtown Santa Fe New Mexico
Photo by: Jaime Pirozzi – Local Freshies®

For something a bit fancier and out of the ordinary, this restaurant might be your ticket. Mark Kiffen, the owner of The Compound, was recognized by the James Beard Foundation as the Best Chef of the Southwest. With a menu that changes seasonally based on ingredients that can be obtained regionally & an influence from the southwest and Mediterranean cuisines, this restaurant is for the “foodie” that wants to celebrate a powder day up on the hill.


  • Address: 635 Canyon Road
  • Phone: +1 505 982 4353
  • Hours: Open Tuesday – Saturday noon to 2pm (lunch), 5pm to 8:30pm (dinner)

Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen

Visit Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen

If you’re looking for authentic New Mexican cuisine done right, this is your spot. It might not be downtown, but it’s worth the drive to experience the blue corn enchiladas & some tasty tequila to go along with it. With over 300 types of tequila, you’ll find one that fits your palate and pairs with the amazing cuisine. Heck, you may even see a celebrity or a local artist passing through.


  • Address: 555 West Cordova Road
  • Phone: +1 505 983 7929
  • Hours: Open Daily 11:30am to 9pm

Second Street Brewery at The Railyard

Visit Second Street Brewery’s website

The railyard in Santa Fe New Mexico
Photo by: Jaime Pirozzi – Local Freshies®

We all love to partake in some tequila, but what if you want to enjoy a good craft beer in Santa Fe? If so, head over to Second Street Brewery. Started in 1996, it has grown so much over the years that they now have two locations. The grub that goes along with the brews is amazing as well.


  • Address: 1607 Paseo de Peralta
  • Phone: +1 505 989 3278,
  • Hours: Open Monday – Saturday 11am to 10pm, Sunday noon to 9pm

This is only a mere sampling of the massive selection of restaurants available in the city of Santa Fe. From Tomasita’s for breakfast to The Shed for red and green chile covered chicken dishes, you’ll fall in love with this town not just for its food, but its charm as well.

Ojo Caliente – A Hot Spring Unlike Any Other In The World

A birdseye view of Ojo Caliente from a mountain top
Photo by: Jaime Pirozzi – Local Freshies®

After many days of hitting the mountain, your body may be sore, tired and in need of some rest & relaxation. About 50 miles down the road lies Ojo Caliente. Deemed sacred by indigenous Native Americans of Northern New Mexico, Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs has been a gathering place and a source of healing for hundreds, even thousands of years. Set in a 1916 mission-style building, it is considered the oldest hot spring resort in the country & home to the world’s only hot springs with four kinds of mineral waters. It might be a bit far to stay there for the entire trip, but it’s well worth a day trip to this tranquil location.

When To Go

The city of Santa Fe in Winter is full of exciting things to do but March is the best time to hit Ski Santa Fe for a guarantee of maximum coverage. It’s also the highest probability of one of the legendary storms brewing up from the Gulf of Mexico that can sit over the Sangre De Cristo range and just nuke for days. Looking for something a bit more exotic from your trip? Then heading to Santa Fe over Christmas is definitely when you want to be there.

Christmas For Farolitos

Photo by: Jaime Pirozzi – Local Freshies®

Seeing all the pueblos covered in Farolitos is a sight to behold. Originated from Spanish Merchants, Farolitos or luminarias are made from brown paper bags weighted down with sand & illuminated from within by a lit candle. These are typically arranged in rows to create large and elaborate displays. It isn’t like anything else in the world, especially if there is a blanket of snow covering the city.

Like the Spanish explorers that founded the capital of Santa Fe, both the city and Ski Santa Fe are a perfect combination for someone looking for adventure, beauty and a great deal of culture along with their ski trip.

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