Red River, New Mexico: A Place for Family Fun in the Southern Rockies

My wife and I have been to Red River several times for both summer and winter vacations. It has long been a favorite spot for Texans to escape the dreadful summer heat that is inevitable. Affordability and close proximity have always been major draws-not just to Texans. From our home in Denton (40 miles north of Dallas) we can be in Red River in less than twelve hours. Due to its small size and location slightly off the beaten path, Red River is sometimes overlooked by Texans looking for a mountain getaway.

Since discovering snowshoeing in 2003, we made several brief trips to Red River to enjoy the superb powder in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Typically, we leave Denton and drive to Clayton, N.M. to spend the night. At an elevation of a little over 5,000 feet, it gives us a chance to relax and begin acclimating to the even thinner air in Red River. In the morning, we dress in snowshoeing togs to make the easy three-hour drive to Red River. On the way, we usually spot antelope on the peaceful drive toward beautiful Cimarron Canyon. Once out of the canyon, you enter the quaint little town of Eagle Nest. Take a right on Highway 38 and you are only eighteen miles from Red River.

Since we would arrive in Red River before noon, we always stopped at one of our favorite places first: Enchanted Forest Cross Country Ski and Snowshoeing Area, located just off highway 38 near Bobcat pass. Unless you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, parking in the overflow parking area right off the highway is best. A 10-minute walk up the hill puts you at the Enchanted Forest Day Lodge. Nestled on an undulating plateau in the Carson National Forest, Enchanted Forest offers first-rate cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Improvements to the trail system have been an ongoing process and are continuing. Thirty-three kilometers of Cross Country ski trails are groomed for both classical and skating styles. In addition, there are fifteen kilometers of dedicated snowshoeing trails. Snowshoers are required to stay off the ski trails.

John and Judy Miller retired on the recent 25th anniversary of their ownership of Enchanted Forest. Ellen and Geoff Goins, their daughter and son-in-law, are now the owners. Geoff will probably greet you when you arrive. He will fit you with ski or snowshoe rentals and sell you a trail pass. Cross-country ski lessons are also available – all at quite reasonable prices. Log onto their Web site, for current prices. We typically snowshoe a half-day that first day. At 9,200 feet, that’s enough for flatlanders. The trails have some spectacular views of the surrounding terrain. Geoff will recommend trails appropriate for your age and fitness level.

In addition to everyday skiing and snowshoeing, Enchanted Forrest offers guided snowshoe tours, headlamp hikes, and cookouts. The Web site gives dates and prices – or you can give them a call at (575) 754-6112.

If your tastes run more to downhill skiing, Red River offers a significant variety of terrain that can be accessed by six lifts and one surface tow. An added advantage is that the ski area is right in town. Skiers can walk or ski to the lifts from many of the lodging facilities. The town of Red River sits at an elevation of 8,750 feet. Elevation at the peak of the ski area is 10,350 feet, giving a vertical drop of 1,600 feet. Average annual snowfall is 214 inches. That can be supplemented by snow making capabilities on 85 percent of the runs. Thus, skiers are almost guaranteed good quality snow for the duration of the season.

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About the author

Jim Fagan

Jim Fagan was born and raised in Florida, has lived in Texas for 38 years and loves to snowshoe. You figure it out. He and his wife Liz are both in their late 60s, early 70s and are about to embark on their 10th season of snowshoeing. They hope to venture beyond the friendly confines of Colorado and New Mexico - perhaps to Utah, California, and Oregon. Keep checking for reports on their retired senior adventures.

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