Skiing New Mexico

Angel Fire

Angel Fire, too, appeals to families. The resort sits in the Moreno Valley, ancestral hunting ground of the Utes, where the ancient ones worshiped the "angel's fire," a pulsating red-orange sky that mysteriously materialized at dawn and dusk. Years later, the famous cowboy Kit Carson determined that the fiery effect resulted from sunlight refracting through the hoar frost in the distant trees. But, he had enough sense to preserve the traditional name.

While civilization in the Valley pre-dates written records, Angel Fire Resort can be traced back only to 1966; and the city of Angel Fire ranks as New Mexico's youngest incorporated metropolis. A totally modern playground, with condos, a full service hotel, indoor swimming, tennis courts and summer golfing, Angel Fire boasts this claim to fame: It's the founding site of, and annual host to, the Shovel Racing World Championships. Guys sit on #10 Ames snow shovels and go for the gold at speeds of up to 40 mph. This, no doubt, has to be seen to be fully appreciated.

My timing was wrong for viewing the shovel race. Nor did I see the celestial angel's fire, or the spectacular 100-mile view from the top (I've just got no luck with New Mexico views) because I saw little beyond my ski tips. Falling snow had us all socked in.

Laid out on two faces of the mountain, the vast majority of Angel Fire's 65 runs seemed tame. But, the place holds the state's only high-speed, detachable quad chair, and the advanced skiing on the backside, while not great in length, boasts trails rich with twists, turns, and quirky terrain that counter-banks into the mountain's pitch. I, an inveterate mogul practitioner, was happy on a run called Hell's Bells. But, carving long-arc turns on your new shaped skis can also be invigorating on trails like Hully Gully and Fat City.

As with Red River, skiing families are happy here—as are snow shovel drivers or anyone looking for a one or two-day change of pace from Taos. And new snow (they average 210 annual inches) and plentiful sunshine (they average 300 days a year—even if I didn't see the sun), makes most any place enjoyable.

Angel Fire
Phone Number: 800-633-7463
Accommodations: 800-633-7463
Web Site:

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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