A common phrase today is “Attitude is everything.”
Well, in New
Mexico, it should go something like, “Altitude is
Especially when it comes to snowmobiling.
Altitude makes the difference when it comes to sledding the
white stuff in the desert Southwest. New Mexico
has plenty of desert but the Land
of Enchantment also has
plenty of mountains, too. It’s just you don’t hear too much about the southern
Rocky Mountains, which are mostly in New
New Mexico has six peaks
rising higher than 13,000 feet and 38 peaks reaching past 12,000 feet, most all
of which are a part of the Continental Divide, which enters the United States in southern New Mexico and snakes its way through the
state until exiting near Chama in the north.
With those kinds of elevations, it’s not unusual for the
state’s mountainous regions to collect between 4-8 feet of snow, depending on
which mountain range it’s falling.
While most of the mountains are in northern New Mexico, not all of
the mountains are up north. Take Cloudcroft for example. This southern New Mexico town is on
about the same latitude as Phoenix
and Dallas. Phoenix gets virtually no
snow and Dallas
gets about three inches a winter while Cloudcroft sees about 84 inches of snow
each winter. That’s what mountains will do for you.
There are a half-dozen riding areas in the state, stretching
from near the bottom portion of New
Mexico near Cloudcroft north to the New Mexico/Colorado
border. Although most snowmobiling in New Mexico takes place up north, you can
head south to the Lincoln National Forest and ride in one of the southernmost
areas of the United States where you can snowmobile. Riding here is less than
100 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border.
The major riding areas in this state of Enchantment are
(from north to south): Chama; Red River; Angel
Fire; Mt. Taylor; San Pedro Mountains,
Jemez Mountains; and Cloudcroft.
Compared to other western states, there aren’t many miles of
groomed trials in New Mexico
but there is plenty of backcountry riding. Any grooming that takes place is
usually done by local businesses and/or clubs, like what you’d find at Red River. Despite the lack of groomed paths, there are
plenty of snowmobile rental agencies willing to take sledders deep into New Mexico’s
In some places up north the season begins in November and
stretches to early April.
An excellent source of information on snowmobiling in
northern New Mexico
can be found at www.fs.fed.us/r3/carson
website. Once there, go to the “recreational activities” section and click on
the snowmobile info. You’ll find out what areas are available for riding, as
well as detailed information on those areas, such as the number of miles of each
trail. Another good source of information is the Santa Fe National Forest
Because the area is primarily a backcountry experience, it’s
best to find someone who knows the area. That will make your riding experience
that much more enchanting.
New Mexico Department of Tourism www.newmexico.org
Road Conditions 800-432-4269
Groomed Trails 100
Highest Point Wheeler Peak (13,161 ft)
Greatest Average Annual Snowfall Bateman Ranch 147.0 in.
Record Winter Snowfall Anchor Mine 483 in.
Coldest Recorded Temperature Gavilan minus-50 degrees F
Santa Fe (100 miles)
Information Chama Valley
Chamber of Commerce 800-477-0149
Groomed Trails 100
Nearest Airport Santa
Fe (103 miles)
Information Red River Chamber of Commerce 800-348-6444
Nearest Airport Santa Fe (90 miles)
Fire Chamber of Commerce 800-446-8117
Santa Fe (33.8 miles)
Information Santa Fe National Forest 505-438-7840
Nearest Airport Santa Fe (25 miles)
Information Santa Fe National Forest
Albuquerque (76 miles)
Information Grants/Cibola County Chamber
of Commerce 800-748-2142
Nearest Airport Alamogordo (20 miles)
Cloudcroft Chamber of Commerce 866-UPHIGH7