Ski Apache is a fairly large ski resort located in southcentral New Mexico on Sierra Blanca Peak. The highest lift served elevation is 11500 feet, while the base is located at 9600 feet. This gives the resort an impressive 1900-foot vertical. Ski Apache has a total skiing area of 750 acres, with 55 named runs and 3 terrain parks. Annual snowfall averages out to a decent 185 inches (4.7 meters) per year with snow making coverage over almost half of the park.
The Lifts and the Runs
The lift system at Ski Apache is made up of a venerable gondola, two quads, three triples and two surface lifts. This gives them the highest lift capacity in the state, ferrying 5600 skiers up the mountain every hour. The gondola provides the only nonstop access to the peak from the main lodge, although the Lincoln lift gets expert skiers to the chutes and steeps nearest the peak.
There are 55 named trails at Ski Apache with a difficulty mix of 20 percent novice, 60 percent intermediate, and 20 percent advanced. The resort also has two terrain parks with a bevy of features for freestylers. The longest trail on the mountain is the Sierra Blanca Trail, or the SBT. It stretches out for over two and a half miles, starting at the peak and looping down and around the west side of the park.
Novice skiers have a dedicated learning area near the base lodge, but there are several longer cruisers available all around the mountain. Upper Spruce is a groomer that runs laterally across the mountain, ending up near the embark point for Triple Lift 1.
With sixty percent of the trails rated for intermediate skiers, there’s no place on the mountain that they won’t find something fun. By far, the biggest draw is the Apache Bowl. Whether you choose to drop in along the South Face or near the lift drop off point, making a couple of laps of the bowl is almost a tradition for skiers and boarders. On the other side of the Face, there are tree-lined chutes and some glades to explore that will challenge intermediate skiers. New skiers should talk with the locals that pepper the slopes to find out what they think the best runs are. Opinions will vary, but the stories will always be interesting.
The Rest of the Story
Ski Apache is one of the favorite places to ski in New Mexico, worth the time you spend here on vacation. Advanced skiers may find the terrain to be a little repetitive after the first week, but intermediate skiers will find tons to romp around on. This resort is also great for novices, not only for the progressive terrain, but also because Ski Apache has a great ski school. The resort is also a haven for history, as it is run by the Mescalero Apaches. The décor and ambience are both interesting and friendly, but first-timers should learn some basic tips when dealing with the Apache culture. Stop by the ski shop and grab one of the pamphlets to read up on social etiquette.