Red River Ski Area is located in the northern part of New Mexico, USA, near the border with Colorado, in the Carson National Forest. It is 160 miles north from Albuquerque (3hrs) and 260 miles south from Denver in the Sangre De Cristo Mountains (southern part of the Rocky Mountains).
Red River is a small resort of just 290 acres of skiable terrain that sits in the shadow of its famous New Mexico cousin, Taos Ski Valley - a 45 minute drive away. While Taos is New Mexico's premier and international resort, Red River is much more for locals and has a local atmosphere. The resort is a family owned and operated mountain by the Judycki Family.
It also serves as a feeding area and habitat for local wildlife supported by the United States Forest Service.
Red River Ski Area always opens the Wednesday before thanksgiving, and closes the second to last Sunday of March.
Photo: The base at Red River
Albuquerque Sunport International is the main airport servicing the mountain. Driving north from Albuquerque, take I-25 through Santa Fe towards Taos. Take Hwy 285/68 through Espanola and the canyon that runs along the Rio Grande into Taos. Once you get through Taos, head north on NM 522 to Questa, then make a right on Highway 38 towards Red River.
There is ground transportation from Albuquerque Sunport International - Twin Hearts Express. It has four departures daily. Telephone: 1-800-654-9456 or (505) 751-1201. They do round trip shuttle services to Santa Fe, Espanola, Taos, Taos Ski Valley, Red River, Rio Costilla, Questa and all of Southern Colorado.
You can also get there by rail and bus. Take the New Mexico Rail Runner from Albuquerque Sunport to the Santa Fe Depot. From there you take the Taos Express. Beginning soon a shuttle will also be available from Santa Fe or Taos directly in to Red River.
The town of Red River has roughly 500 year round residents. The town stretches about two miles long with three main streets (High Street, Main Street, and River Street). It is a very small town with a quiet mountain feel to it.
There are no traffic lights in the town, with two mountain passes forming the two entrances into town. Red River is located on the top of the Enchanted Circle (which also includes Eagle Nest, Angel Fire, Taos, and Questa).
There is free public transportation via a trolley service. Half of the town has a “western” theme feel (Shotgun Willies, Wild Bill’s, Frye’s Old Towne) and the other half is small German ski town feel (Sitzmark Sports, Alpine Lodge, Auslander Condominiums).
The town started out as a mining town during the Gold Rush of the 1800’s and maintains the mining theme (the chairlifts are named Silver Chair, Gold Chair, Copper Chair and Platinum Chair) and there is a 'Gold Rush' Rail Jam every year. Many of the trails are named after old mines and notorious miners in the area.
The ski area is located in the center of town with two main chair lifts to take you from the town up to summit. There is 290 acres (117 hectares) of skiable terrain at the resort.
While all the resort lies below the tree-line, with nothing in the way of rocky chutes or big mountain, the resort overall is quite steep, and includes mostly fast blues and blacks. For beginners, there is just a small area at the base apart from one long, winding cat track from the top.
Red River Ski Area has 214 inches (543cm) of average annual snowfall, 7 Lifts, and 57 trails (2 double chairs, 3 triple chairs and 2 surface tows). Base elevation is 8,750ft and summit elevation is 10,350ft.
New Mexico resorts generally receive less snow than the resorts further north in Utah and Colorado.
Photo: Red River Ski Area
Both main lifts from the base to the summit are not high speed as they have midway unloading stations. The resort heavily uses snowmaking with 85 per cent of the terrain covered by snowmaking equipment.
Broadway is one of the nicest run for cruising and gathering speed. The trails at the back are also quite nice as they take you through the beautiful aspen grove.
Photo: Mid Mountain view at Red River Ski Area
Jobs available during the winter season include: Lift operations (scanning tickets, base of chairlift, top of chairlift, magic carpet attendants), rental shop (ski techs, skis, boards, boots), ticket sales, winter tubing attendants, ski & snowboard instructors (youth and adult) food and beverage (cooks, cashiers).
Many of the staff come from places outside of New Mexico, although locals do take up quite a few of the jobs.
Most seasonal staff members are hired at the beginning of the ski season in November.
Being a small operation, Red River accepts applications for full time, part time and holiday staff which helps cover the peak periods of Christmas and Spring break. You can apply anytime for a job throughout the year, including during the winter season. You can apply at Red River Job Applications
Phone interviews are fine. Usually people apply online or apply through word of mouth and through people who know people.
PSIA/SIA certification classes and training is available to ski and snowboard instructors.
Most employees (not just for the ski area but in the town in general) have more than one job. Having a second job at a restaurant is common.
Minimum wage in New Mexico is $7.50 per hour. Most entry level jobs pay around this. Instructors and those with experience will earn a little more.
Red River Ski Area's winter international staff consists of college students participating in the Summer Work and Travel program, which is open to South American students. Brazil, Peru, Argentina and Chile are the most common countries where international staff come from.
College and University students enrolled full time and pursuing studies at post-secondary accredited academic institutions overseas are able to come to the US and work during their school break on a J-1 visa. See Work a Snow Season in the US for further details on visas and sponsor agencies for the US.
You get a season pass. Season pass holders get reciprocation with mountains in New Mexico and Colorado, including Monarch Mountain in Colorado.
Red River Ski Area has limited subsidized housing in town for employees.
I you are not in the subsidized housing, monthly rentals are available in town with rent ranging from $400.00 p/month upwards to $850.00 p/month (cheaper rent if you split between several people). Most town rentals are all inclusive of utilities (hear, water, electric).
Monthly rentals available in town are advertised in the local newspaper, the “Red River Miner”.
Everything fun at night is within walking distance. Red River gets some nice live music acts and the local bars, although not many of them, can still be fun.
The international students host several staff parties throughout the season.
There is a winter festival in January, and 'Mardi Gras in the Mountains' is a festival to stick around for.
Red River Ski Area also has summer operations including an 18 hole Mountain Top Disc Golf, summer mountain tubing, scenic chairlift rides, hiking and music. Red River Ski Area is always looking for people to stay on after the winter season and into the summer season.