While visiting family in Texas I got an opportunity to snowboard the high, Rocky Mountains of New Mexico, the United States southernmost ski area. After a very long and scenic drive from El-Paso (4 hours) we arrived in the small town of Ruidoso with Ski Apache just a few miles up this long, insanely narrow road.
Ski Apace offers 55 runs and 11 lifts along including a gondola. During the couple days we visited, there was only one chance to ride the gondola due to inclement weather conditions, but it was worth the wait. Once at the top (11,500 ft ) there is the most breathtaking view of White Sands in the distance, which is arguably one of the most peaceful places on the planet with miles of blinding white sand dunes making up the world’s largest dunefield.
Windy roads up to Ski Apache
On our way down from the gondola, a local pointed us in the direction of a tree run which happened to have some feathery light snow stashes. I was ecstatic. Once at the bottom, the gondola had already closed but luckily there was so much more resort to take in. We took chair #4 up and cut over to the bone yard terrain park. With one insane line this park was more progressive then I expected. For example, the first feature had a picnic table set up on top of a jump to either gap or get creative with, followed by some down, flat, up boxes and C rails. They also had a rainbow custom made box with a peace sign graphic, which I thought was cool. We lapped the park a bit that day and with the variety of terrain and over 750 skiable acres that still needed exploring, I looked forward to our next visit.
An ad with Mt. Hood Meadows in the background!
Increase the peace
The next time we rode, met up with some local shred kids. They were kind enough to let us tag along, so we spent the whole day following them around the hill. We got super stoked on how stoked they were on shredding. I informed them of snowboard magazines these kids had no idea existed and year round hill at our home mountain, Hood. They informed me of the Apache culture and where to eat in Ruidoso. After a full day on the hill, I checked out the snowboard shop and posted on the wall was a picture of a girl skiing at Mt Hood Meadows!
The people of Ski Apache were a very diverse and fascinating group, ranging from Mescalero Apache Indian, military personnel (yes, they actually rode in their army attire), to your everyday tourist folk. Understanding the Ski Apache culture is important so it’s a good idea to visit the ski shop and grab one of their pamphlets on the history of the tribe and the details of acceptable social etiquette among their people. So remember; if you ever visit this place, don’t stare or make direct eye contact. They’re not affectionate people, so be sensitive to the signals they give you. This stems from their hostile history and daily confrontations with desert and mountains, droughts and flash floods, extreme heat or cold, as well as marginal food supply and potential enemy raids. By adapting to these challenges, the early Apache developed a unique culture that permitted maximum mobility with a minimum of personal belongings. So embrace it during your visit to Ski Apache.
Everything from snowboarding with diverse people, to New Mexico powder stashes, to treacherously narrow roads, to the interesting park set up, will makes my lines at ski apache ones I will cherish for life.