Skiing New Mexico


It takes a whole lot of will power to ski Pajarito and not make nuclear waste jokes. Like, don't eat the green-glowing snow! Or, why don't all ski patrollers have three eyes and two noses? Pajarito, you see, stands just outside the town of Los Alamos. You know—the place where the atom bomb was invented and where, today, they still fiddle around with all kinds of nuclear substances doing hush-hush governmental research. But, the locals are sick of nuclear jokes, and if you can get yourself past that obvious cliche, you'll discover a remarkable little ski area that was indeed originally created by folks working on the Manhattan Project, calling themselves the Los Alamos Ski Club. In the base lodge, you'll find proudly posted photos of famous scientists helping to cut trails and erect outbuildings by hand.

The modern Pajarito remains something of an anomaly. It still operates as a club. It only operates on weekends, federal holidays and Wednesdays. And, on Wednesdays, only two of the five lifts operate. The skiing itself is comprised of a series of short downhill blasts that drop off a ridge that spans the area's entire great width. I skied nearly the entire place in a day, and found the attitude there so refreshing that I expect to include a Pajarito day in every New Mexico ski visit.

The steeper runs are grouped in the middle of the hill, with intermediates spanned out to both sides and the requisite green-rated meanderers skirting the ridge and the extreme outside of the layout. But, if you're into terrain variations, with a bit of glades and some fun-to-hop-over bumps, you'll like my favorite route: Leave the Aspen Lift to skier's left and start down through the loosely gladed Porcupine or Compromise; these empty out into Bob's Bowl, a short, steep shot, at the bottom of which you should bear right towards the three narrow passageways that comprise Three Fingers; chose one, and then ride the bumps to the bottom.

Another Pajarito pleasantry: a small cafeteria that doles out big portions of good homemade food at small prices.

Phone Number:
Accommodations: 505-662-8105
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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