Snowshoe New Mexico: Where To Go in the Land of Enchantment

Hundreds of people will compete in snowshoe races throughout New Mexico this winter. Many more will snowshoe recreationally by hiking snow-packed trails or creating new backcountry routes. Both competitive and casual snowshoeing are continuing to be on the rise. Why? “Because so many people don’t like sliding!” says Geoff Goins, owner of the Enchanted Forest XC Ski Area in Red River, NM. Goins refers to the difference between skiing and snowshoeing: the latter is all grip, no glide. “Anyone can do it,” he says. “You just need stamina.”

So, instead of hibernating this winter, up your endurance and check out the following snowshoeing areas in New Mexico.

blue sky on Chama snowshoeing trail

Enjoy the beautiful blue sky while snowshoeing in New Mexico, including in Edward Sargent Wildlife Area in Chama. Photo: Susan Wowk.

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As the name suggests, one of the largest draws to Chama’s 20,209-acre Edward Sargent Wildlife Area is the opportunity to view the vast array of wildlife in the park. For example, snowshoe the short 0.5 km Elk Interpretive Trail or along unplowed NM 29 northwest of the parking area. Make sure to double-check closures for hunting season.

Additionally, snowshoers frequent the Chama Chile Ski Classic, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2023! Typically held in mid-January on a groomed trail, the race is about 12 miles (19 km) north of Chama. The closest place to rent snowshoes is Pagosa Springs if needed, or you can bring your own pair of racing snowshoes.

Read More: Snowshoeing Trails and Events Near Chama, New Mexico

Red River

Enchanted Forest Cross Country Ski Area is located 3.5 east of Red River and sees its fair share of snowshoers. “More than 1,000 snowshoers come through each year,” says owner Geoff Goins. Since 1993, Goins and his wife, Ellen, have enticed snowshoers with moonlight hikes, yurt rentals, and races. Purchase a day pass to explore the 18km (11 miles) of snowshoe-only trails in the park, which rise as high as 10,040 feet (3,060 m), and have attracted novices and pros alike, including USSSA champ Laurie Lambert.

As an alternative to the Ski Area, you can also explore the many snowshoe trails in the Carson National Forest. The winter trails within the Questa Ranger District, including the Pioneer Creek Trail, are great options for snowshoeing.

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

snowshoes walking on a mountain trail surrounded by trees

Snowshoe Sandia Peak near Albuquerque. Photo: Marcelo Rodriguez via Shutterstock


Less than one hour from Albuquerque, snowshoe the Sandia Mountains. Bob Lowder, former Friends of the Sandia president, recommends using the Sandia Peak Tramway for easy access to the mountain. “Areas to snowshoe range from the wide expanse of the Tram service road at the Ellis Trailhead to fairly level ski trails or break-your-own trails through the forest,” he adds.

If you are looking for a snowshoe race, sign up for the Sandia Snowshoe Classic, Albuquerque’s only organized snowshoe event. The 3.2-mile (5 km) route sits at 10,678 feet (3,255 m) and offers spectacular views of the Duke City, the Rio Grande, and the Turquoise Trail.

Read More: New Mexico: Land of Enchantment and Some Excellent Snowshoeing

Santa Fe

Opt for trails in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains off Hyde Park Road. One option is to start at the Aspen Vista Picnic Site to access the 6-mile trek up the forest road to Tesuque Peak (12,040 feet /3,670 m). This route is one of the most popular in the Sangres and is a shared trail with cross-country skiers. For a more rolling route at a lower elevation, try the Chamisa Trail, which connects to the Winsor Trail after 2.5 miles (3.8 km). Turn around there or wander alongside Tesuque Creek.

For races, try the Santa Fe Snowshoe Classic located on the Norski Track Ski Trail. This 3.6-mile (5.7 km) race is held in January, and this area is not regularly open to snowshoers.

Read More: Snowshoeing the Aspen Vista Trail at Night

view of snowy peak with blue sky overhead

Snowshoe for views of the beautiful Taos Valley and Wheeler Peak. Photo: Roschetzky Photography via Shutterstock


Tackle New Mexico’s highest mountain, 13,161-foot Wheeler Peak, in Carson National Forest. Or, hike an easy 2.5 miles (3.8 km) to Bull of the Woods Pasture and spend the night in a cozy yurt stocked with cooking equipment and a wood burner. “A large dining table, games, cards, and lanterns make this a charming getaway,” says Alyson Hyder, Executive Director of the Taos Ski Valley Chamber of Commerce.

A small fee gets you an Access Permit to snowshoe the valley’s Northside, which offers a 1,300-acre, well-marked trail system. Watch out for bighorn sheep, elk, and mule deer as you tromp among aspens and evergreens.

Read More: What To Bring When Snowshoeing: Top Accessories for the Day Hiker

Valles Caldera

Located almost two hours northwest of Santa Fe and two and a half hours southwest of Taos, traverse the Valle Grande.  This trail includes three miles of rolling terrain in the middle of the 89,000-acre Valles Caldera National Preserve, with excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing.

Or, for a more challenging outing, climb the 3.8 miles peacefully through mountain forests to 11,254-foot (3,430 m) Redondo Peak. Wander along the east fork of the Jemez River to spot elk, coyotes, and bald eagles, or explore the Coyote Call Trail for 2.9 miles round-trip through meadows and aspen groves. Permits and rentals are available at the Valle Grande staging area.

Read More: Cross-Country Skiing Revisited at the Valles Caldera “Super Volcano”


Though snowfall is often associated with northern New Mexico, southern New Mexico also has its share of precipitation and gorgeous scenery, including Cloudcroft’s Sacramento Mountains. In fact, the highest peak in the Sacramento Mountains reaches almost 12,000 feet (3650 m).

When exploring this area, snowshoe the 2.4-mile Osha Trail to view the serene Ponderosa Pine forests (and White Sands National Park) or the Bridal Veil Falls trail to catch the stunning frozen fall in winter.

Read More: Cloudcroft, New Mexico: Snowshoe Gem of the Southwest

This article was first published on December 19, 2011. It was most recently updated with new trail options and updated snowshoe races on October 17, 2023. 

About the author

Whitney Spivey

Whitney Spivey is based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she is a freelance writer and editor. She is a three-time New Mexico state snowshoe racing champion, and she placed eighth at Nationals in 2014.

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