Snow Sports, Albuquerque
Sandia Peak is also a small, hometown-style ski area, but if you look, you can still find fun and challenging stuff. Plus lift tickets are cheap. It's only open Wednesday through Saturday, and some seasons it doesn't open at all because of lack of snow. Try to get up here on a weekday and you'll have the place to yourself. Seriously.
You can drive here, which I prefer, or you can take the tram. The disadvantage to the tram, besides the added expense, is that you have to time your last run just right. If you think you have time for one more, and you don't--i.e. if the chairlifts close--you have no way of getting back to the top of the mountain. Well, you could hitchhike, but think of the odds of finding someone who's heading uphill at that time of day, who's willing to stop, and who's got room their car for your skis or board.
In the off-seasons they run the chairlift so you can check out the aspen leaves turning, etc.
The sun actually does set on the chairlift. The mountains run north-south, so the lifts run westward up the slope.
Equipment: Again, you can rent in town or at the mountain, and sunscreen is very necessary.
Ski Santa Fe is a nice hometown ski area, not impressive if you're used to the Alps, but fun for locals and daytrips. Because we're so far south, it's often warm enough to shed your outer layers--I love the days I can snowboard in a t-shirt--but the sun is fierce, so make sure you wear sunscreen. There's enough variety to keep you entertained for a few days, plus the views are amazing. The picture was taken from the top of the mountain (which is 12,000 ft above sea level--one of the highest in the country) with my camera phone, so it's a bit fuzzy. You can see, along the horizon on the left, the Sandia Mountains, which are along the east edge of Albuquerque, about 50 miles away.
In the summer, there some nice hikes in the area, and in the fall I hear they run the chairlift so you can check out the changing leaves on the aspens.
Equipment: You can rent from the shop here or several different shops in Santa Fe or Albuquerque.
There is lots of skiing and snowboarding on the mountain during winter.
Mid-December through mid-March.
HOURS OF OPERATION:
9am to 4pm.
December 19 - January 4: Open Daily
January 7 - March 14: Wednesdays thru Sundays & Holidays
Equipment: Skis, Snowboards, Jacket