7 ski experiences you can only have in New Mexico

Mardi Gras in the Mountains, Red River

If you ever wanted to celebrate Fat Tuesday with some gumbo and some fresh powder (who said you had to choose?), head to Red River between February 8 and 13 for Mardi Gras in the Mountains. The town is a paradise of Western kitch and basically exists for the skiing, calling itself “the Ski Town of the Southwest.” It’s right in the middle of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and during this week in February, it’s definitely the best of both worlds.

After catching some beads, attending a Cajun cookoff, and dancing to zydeco, walk to the ski lifts from Main Street for some excellent Rocky Mountain skiing. You can hit up (and slide down) Red River Ski Area’s 63 runs — most are beginner or intermediate, making this a great spot for families. Another way to burn off those Mardi Gras calories is to take to the trails at the nearby Enchanted Forest Cross-Country Ski and Snowshoe Area.

Downhill skiing at 33.3° N

Ski Apache is New Mexico’s only ski resort to be owned by a local native American tribe. It’s located on the edge of the Mescalero Apache Reservation and near the towns of Ruidoso and Lincoln (the latter is known for its association with Billy the Kid). It also happens to be one of the southernmost ski resorts in the US, more or less equal in latitude with Myrtle Beach, SC (at, roughly, 33.3° N).

Ski Apache offers unique ski classes, like the Men’s Mountain Masters (men-only) and the Snow Divas (women-only). Pick up some skills and try out all 55 of their runs. Or, if you can’t stay upright on either a snowboard or a pair of skis, head up the mountain on the state’s only eight-passenger gondola to the “Gazebo” at the 11,500-foot summit. Take the zipline tour down and you’ll get to the bottom faster than anybody.

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