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Powder Up!

In early December, when the days in Santa Fe are chillier, the action on the mountain is just starting to heat up. With 660 acres of gorgeous terrain and more than 1,700 feet of vertical, Ski Santa Fe-visible from Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino and just a short drive away-is the place to be when snow covers the peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Just 16 miles from downtown, and about a 30-minute drive up scenic Hyde Park Road, Ski Santa Fe is one of the premier ski areas in the Southwest. Its 73 runs include something for everyone: skiers and snowboarders, bombers and cruisers. Beginners will find just enough challenge on Sunnyside, intermediates will love the wide but steeper slopes of runs like Gay Way, and those ready for black-diamond runs can schuss past the trees in T-Bird Glade. If freestyle boarding’s your thing, the Bone Yard Terrain Park offers boxes, rails, jibs, log slides, and other features to challenge beginning and intermediate riders.

Ski Santa Fe’s seven lifts deliver snow lovers to a maximum altitude of 12,075 feet-and yes, the views at the top of every peak in the ski area are stunning. Think postcard-perfect panoramas, with views of the Sangre de Cristo and Jemez Mountains and the glorious high desert in the distance.

If you’re expecting the long waits common at so many western resorts, you’re in for a treat. The lift lines at Ski Santa Fe are shorter than those at most resort-town grocery stores. If you’re accustomed to the wet or icy conditions you often find back east, you’ll be pleasantly surprised too. The snow here-225 inches a year, on average-is typically light, dry, and oh-so-skiable, whatever your experience level.

Still learning the ropes? Ski Santa Fe is a great place for beginners, even first-timers, with a team of skilled instructors
offering both private and group lessons on a gently sloping bunny hill and a variety of green-rated runs. Boarders and
skiers can choose from several one-day packages, each featuring two group lessons, lift tickets, and equipment rental. Kids 3 to 11 can learn to ski or board at Chipmunk Corner, a full-service complex that offers instruction, outdoor play and activities, and daycare services.

When you’re tired of snow-for the day, at least-you’ll find plenty of après-ski options back in Santa Fe. After your time on the mountain, consider a stop at Buffalo Thunder’s Wo´ P´in Spa for a hot-stone massage or a warming hot-tub retreat. Or refuel with a bowl of spicy green chile stew or a more elaborate dinner at the Resort & Casino’s Red Sage Restaurant. Then rest up for tomorrow in your Hilton Serenity bed. More than likely, a couple more inches of snow will fall in the mountains overnight, and you’ll want to be the first one in the lift line in the morning.

Originally published in Thunder Magazine, a partner publication.

Hero image by Kyle Webb.

- Dianne Delling