Ski Santa Fe and Artistic Side Trips

A view from a ski lift at Ski Santa Fe in Santa Fe National Forest’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains. (Photo Source: Jennifer Hiller /San Antonio Express-News)

A view from a ski lift at Ski Santa Fe in Santa Fe National Forest’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains. (Photo Source: Jennifer Hiller /San Antonio Express-News)

Jennifer Hiller and her family visited Santa Fe and she wrote about her experiences in the San Antonio Express-News. The majority of the article describes their days skiing in Santa Fe, not Taos or another location, but a mountain right in Santa Fe!

“From Ski Santa Fe’s 10,350 base elevation to its peaks above 12,000 feet, there’s a family vibe, top-of-the-world views and nary a ski snob in sight. […] skiing in Santa Fe is really right there, just 16 miles from downtown. It took maybe 30 minutes to get from our hotel to the parking lot.” (Skiing with a side of art in Santa Fe)

While described as not a ski in-and-out/condo/spa resort-type of ski location, the accessibility and ease of Ski Santa Fe marks it as a great ski destination — Jennifer notes that she and her family did more actual skiing there than on other ski trips. She also notes that at Ski Santa Fe there is a ski school for kids.

When not skiing, Jennifer wrote about exploring the variety of offerings of downtown Santa Fe, but she spent the latter half of her article talking about her family’s visit to Meow Wolf (which we previously mentioned in this post “Santa Fe Culture: Past Meets Future“).

Meow Wolf is composed of different artistic components; one section is an arts-and-crafts studio that Jennifer and the kids took refuge in when another section of Meow Wolf, the “House of Eternal Return,” became a bit much for them. Here’s how she described it:

Meow Wolf’s “House of Eternal Return” is a mashup of a Victorian home, jungle gym, the Twilight Zone, Alice in Wonderland and some of the stranger nightclubs I went to back in the day. […] There is a lot going on – some sort of space-time, alternative dimension thing is happening. My friend and I tried to figure it out, but mostly we tried not to lose our children, who kept doing things like going into refrigerators that were actually doors to other rooms, or disappearing into fireplaces that led to other worlds.” (Skiing with a side of art in Santa Fe)

Jennifer concludes that “the entire trip to Santa Fe was […] filled with unexpected discoveries that made us feel a world away from the daily grind.” A perfect sentiment that many feel after visiting! If you want to read about her full experiences in Santa Fe here’s the full article “Skiing with a side of art in Santa Fe.”

Fort Marcy Recreation Complex

Santa Fe Parks and Recreation Department Logo

Fort Marcy Recreation Complex is a beautiful facility located in the heart of downtown Santa Fe. The complex boasts a 25-yard pool, fully equipped weight room, unique selection of cardio-equipment, racquetball courts and a full court gymnasium. Ft. Marcy offers a comprehensive range of fitness classes and sports leagues. The community room is available for parties and event rentals. The adjacent parks have multiple fields, playgrounds, a walking path, a putting green and stationary outdoor fitness equipment. (City of Santa Fe)

Learn all about the complex’s membership fees here. You can find the fitness class schedule here. To learn more about the facility and all of its specific features visit the Fort Marcy Recreation Complex webpage on the City of Santa Fe website and explore!

Learn More & Visit the Fort Marcy Recreation Complex


  • Monday to Friday | 6:00 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. (pool closes at 8:00 p.m.)
  • Saturday | 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • Sunday | Closed

Address: 490 Bishops Lodge Road, Santa Fe, NM 87501

Phone: (505) 955-2500 or 2501


Santa Fe Culture: Past Meets Future

Past Meets Future (Travel + Leisure)

Becoming Human, a 30-foot-tall sculpture by Christian Ristow, greets visitors to the House of Eternal Return. Brian Finke (Source: “Past Meets Future”, Travel + Leisure)

The city’s carefully constructed image as a mecca of Southwestern-themed art, turquoise jewelry, and folksy spiritualism has lately begun to evolve, thanks to a group of oddball artists and entrepreneurs who insist on seeing their hometown differently. (Source: Amanda Fortini, “In Santa Fe, the Past Meets the Future”Travel + Leisure)

In this Travel + Leisure article, Fortini explains how the cultural identity of Santa Fe was deliberately crafted to portray its Southwestern aesthetic to encourage tourism — “the idea was to give the city a historic regional identity and the patina of an exotic travel destination.” It has worked well and the city does attract many travelers and it has even become one of the best known art destinations in the United States. However, some felt that the the art styles being promoted and encouraged were only those that fit with the theme already embraced as the Santa Fe style and limited the possibilities of new art styles. That has recently begun to change.

Using a new installation created by the company Meow Wolf as an ultimate example of the new artistic movement, Fortini describes The House of Eternal Return “as a haunted house without the monsters, an amusement park without the rides, an acid trip without the drugs,” it is both an abstract visual experience and has a mysterious narrative waiting to be explored. The complex that contains this feature also has studios, offices, and a youth-education center. Although not like the “traditional” art of Santa Fe this destination is drawing in the crowds and is showcasing the fact that Santa Fe can be this blend of old and new styles and doesn’t need to be stuck with a singular identity.

Fortini also explores some other traditions that are being played with, updated, or ignored including what is seen as art by Native Americans that doesn’t need to “look like” Native American art and in the category of culinary “art” the popular chiles of Santa Fe.

The article also discusses the issue of an aging population of Santa Fe residents, and what some are doing to try to develop policies and activities to help attract and keep a youth population, like encouraging more night life (as there is a lack) that would be available for and of interest to a younger crowd.

The article also ends with a list of recommendations of both places embracing the traditional and others the new, so check it out: “In Santa Fe, the Past Meets the Future.”

Violet Crown Santa Fe

Violet Crown Santa Fe: Santa Fe spin-off of Austin-based cinema

Violet Crown Santa Fe (Source: Santa Fe Reporter)

I’m pleased to report on our thoroughly enjoyable evening at Violet Crown Santa Fe (Santa Fe Railyard, 1606 Alcaldesa Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501, 505-216-5678, last night. Here’s the skinny.

Violet Crown Santa Fe’s 11 auditoriums feature state of the art technology, wall-to-wall screens, and large and luxurious cinema chairs. (Source: Violet Crown Cinema, Santa Fe )

Too skinny! Aside from the excellent location, the food (and refreshments) are what sets this cinema apart. Here are a few of my reactions after an enjoyable first visit.

Food+Film Fusion in Santa Fe Railyard

Violet Crown Santa Fe is located adjacent to Santa Fe Farmers Market in Santa Fe’s Railyard District, ideal walking distance from Adobe Oasis. (If you’d rather drive, you can park for free (4-hour max) in The Railyard parking garage. Just bring your parking ticket to the cinema and request validation.) It was cold, so we drove. But next next we’ll walk to burn off the calories…

No, not a jumbo bucket of popcorn with ersatz butter. Local food. Tasty local food.

I started with the brussel sprouts.

Brussels sprouts are… flash-fried for crispy outer leaves and lightly lacquered in a sweet-tart apple-cider gastrique, but ours needed some par-cooking — their tough, overly firm centers made for onerous chewing. (Source: Laurel Gladden, Santa Fe New Mexican)

Mine were tasty (I added bacon which complemented the garlic, red onion, and apple cider gastric perfectly) but likewise undercooked. Almost impossible to skewer with my fork, especially in the dark. I’ll order them again next time, but I’ll request that they pre-steam or parboil mine.

I also ordered the chicken flautas which were crispy and even tastier than I had anticipated. I kept wondering if cheese had been added despite being absent from the ingredients listed on the menu:

All natural chipotle chicken rolled in New Mexico blue corn tortillas, quick fried until crisp, with guacamole and jicama salad. (Source: Violet Crown Cinema, Santa Fe )

They were delicious, but the texture and richness of the chipotle chicken suggested cheese. I’ve been dairy free for several years, so perhaps it was just my mind playing games. Next time I’ll ask before I order. And if there’s no cheese I’ll order again. And again. They were that good. Perfect movie noshes!

I washed everything down with Santa Sidra dry cider which they offer on draft in addition to dozens of other local brews. This is luxury enough, a vast selection of microbrewer beer to lubricate your next film. Win-win.

Reservations, Seating & Timing

We discovered dining tables that folded out (à la airplane dining) and generously proportioned drink holders.

No more waiting in line unless you relish pre-film banter against a backdrop of popcorn and french fry aroma. Violet Crown Santa Fe seats are all reserved (Bonus: no scrambling in the dark for good seats!) online (in advance) or at the cinema. We purchased our tickets online and it was quick, easy, and user friendly. You even get to pick your own seats. By reserving and paying online we were able to skip the ticket line and head straight to the food ordering counter.

Since it can take a little time to prepare your meal, Violet Crown Santa Fe recommends arriving about 45 minutes before screening in order to ensure that your drinks and meal are ready for you to bring in to the theater. We bumped into friends while waiting and enjoyed a drink together. We refueled just as our meals were delivered and headed in to see The Big Short. We located our comfortable chairs and happily discovered dining tables that folded out (à la airplane dining) and generously proportioned drink holders that easily accommodated our pints.

Innovation & Reinvention

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade or so you’ve realized that movie theaters are struggling to adapt to new consumer habits. The convenience and accessibility of on-demand digital entertainment has cut into once standard go-to-the-movies habit of many Americans. Despite the superior viewing experience of a large screen with great sound, I frequently find myself one of only a handful of viewers in an immense theater. Violet Crown Santa Fe responds to this social shift by combining comfort, fresh films, local food, and lots of libations.

Railyard’s new Violet Crown ups the ante for films in SF

Railyard’s new Violet Crown ups the ante for films in SF (Source: Albuquerque Journal)

“We’re trying to marry the two things” – food and film – “in the most pleasant viewing experience we can imagine,” said Bill Banowsky. “We want to give people a reason to get off their couches and come down to our cinema,” he said. “That’s the biggest challenge for theaters anymore… You really have to change the experience so that people really have a reason to go out to a movie.” (Source: Albuquerque Journal)

In short, Violet Crown Santa Fe is reimagining the cinema experience.

Like every other industry reeling from the effects of globalization and a dizzying pace of technological innovation, cinema is in the midst of reinvention. Jacques Paisner, executive director and co-founder of the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival… said Violet Crown’s opening is a harbinger of the city’s willingness to evolve accordingly. (Source: Santa Fe New Mexican)

Smaller, more intimate viewing rooms combined with good food and drink seems like the perfect way to reinvent movie theaters. I’m thrilled with this newest Railyard addition, and my bride and I are already plotting our next visit. See you at Violet Crown Santa Fe!

Blake + Bacon = New Taos Ski Valley

Mix of New and Old Enlivens Taos Ski Valley (Source: The New York Times)

Mix of New and Old Enlivens Taos Ski Valley (Source: The New York Times)

I’d like to pass along a Technicolor Taos tease as featured yesterday in the The New York Times. Christopher Solomon’s “Mix of New and Old Enlivens Taos Ski Valley” is a stunning, well developed look at the current evolution of New Mexico’s prize cache for expert skiers. Solomon invites the reader on a virtual tour of some of the new (or, more accurately, now-more-accessible) adrenaline inducing terrain, and he seamlessly braids in the mountain’s unique history and culture.

The story of Taos’s founding, and the story of its visionary, Ernie Blake, are one of the most colorful strands in the fabric of America’s ski history: how a deft-skiing Swiss immigrant tried to join the 10th Mountain Division in World War II but was denied because of suspicions he was a spy; how the Army instead changed his surname from the Jewish “Bloch” to “Blake” and enlisted him as a translator, during which he interrogated some of the biggest names in the Third Reich; and how, after war’s end, he went looking for a place to start a ski resort. People said his choice, near the end of a lonesome valley in the shadow of 13,161-foot Wheeler Peak, the state’s roof, was too steep, too remote and too challenging. But Blake pursued his vision. With the help of a young wife and a mule named Lightning he hacked Taos Ski Valley into existence. (Source: Mix of New and Old Enlivens Taos Ski Valley – The New York Times)

Mix of New and Old Enlivens Taos Ski Valley (Source: The New York Times)

Mix of New and Old Enlivens Taos Ski Valley (Source: The New York Times)

Ski Santa Fe: Uphill Skiers Responsibility Code

Skinning Santa Fe: Time to review the "Uphill Skiers Responsibility Code"?

Skinning Santa Fe: Time to review the “Uphill Skiers Responsibility Code”?

Too early to think about skiing? I think not! I’m heading into my third year as a telemark skier. And I can’t wait for the snow to fly! Early December will see me skinning Santa Fe Ski Basin 3-4 times a week, and in anticipation, I’ve decided to take a look at their “Uphill Skiers Responsibility Code“.

But first a little back story tracing my recent transition to telemark skiing…

Toward Telemark

I grew up downhill (alpine) and cross country (nordic) skiing. I enjoyed both. But a few days of downhill each winter was more than enough for me. And cross country dwindled by middle school. Not enough time. Too many competing interests like competitive swimming.

In my twenties I moved to Santa Fe and discovered “real” downhill skiing. Lots of dry, powdery snow. Lots of steep, underpopulated terrain. Lots of blue sky! I couldn’t get enough of it. And with Santa Fe as my “home mountain” and Taos just a short-ish ride away, I logged more days on the slopes each winter than I had in all my previous years combined. I became a competent skier. And I had a blast.

Victory: Skinning Santa Fe

Victory: Skinning Santa Fe

Then I moved to Paris and spent four years in the Alps rediscovering once again the thrill and beauty of prime skiing conditions.

Back in the United States I continued to chase challenging terrain and push my limits. My bride and I have season passes at Whiteface Mountain in Lake Placid, NY and we try to spend a good chunk of time in the Southwest. Although Santa Fe is our home mountain, I also spent a week at Taos. Some winters we squeeze in another ski destination like Jackson Hole or Whistler Blackcomb. In short, we love to ski.

But a few years ago I got curious about telemark skiing. I’d been enjoying the elegant tele turns from chairlifts for years, growing gradually more intrigued. And then I skied with a friend who’s the most powerful, beautiful telemark skier I’ve ever witnessed. And I decided to look into it.

I read a little. I watched some videos. But mostly I started talking to tele skiers about their experience. And the more I learned, the more I realized that I wanted to make the leap. In my mind, the change represented a transition from skiing that banged me up to skiing that made me stronger and healthier. It also flip-flopped the dynamics with my bride, turning me into a remedial telemark skier trying to keep up with her. This meant better exercise and more skiing together. Win-win.

From Telemark to Skinning

From telemark skiing downhill to skinning uphill was the next big change. We still enjoy lift service, but there’s no better way to whip the legs and lungs into shape than earning the slopes in December. (Not to mention that uphill skinning opens up a whole world of skiing beyond the pistes!)

Last year was my first season of skinning, and my willing bride made the transition to AT primarily so that she could join in the fun. Earn it. Enjoy it.

While I’ll revisit the joys of uphill skiing later, it’s time I get around to the objective for this post: drawing attention to Santa Fe’s uphill skiing rules, (aka “Uphill Skiers Responsibility Code”).

Uphill Skiers Responsibility Code

All of the following was copied verbatim from and it’s worth rereading each season.

Ski Santa Fe Welcomes Uphill Skiers and Boarders. To ensure the safety of uphill and downhill skiers and boarders, please adhere to the Uphill Skiers Responsibility Code:

The following code is in place to promote everyone’s safety on the mountain. There are numerous hazards to be aware of. This is only a partial list.

Stay to the side of trails to minimize conflict with downhill traffic.

Avoid headwalls and blind corners.

Keep dogs on a leash at all times while in the ski area boundaries.

When traveling in groups, move uphill in single file.

Off to Skin Santa Fe

Off to Skin Santa Fe

STAY OFF OF TRAILS THAT HAVE SNOWMAKING IN PROGRESS. These trails will have 480 volt electrical cords and high pressure water hoses, and at times they may be just beneath the surface. They may also have very icy conditions, particularly near the snow guns. SEEK AN ALTERNATE ROUTE IF YOU SEE ANY INDICATION OF SNOW MACHINES, ELECTRICAL CORDS, OR HOSES.

Some trails are groomed with a winch cat which uses cables under extremely high tension. STAY OFF THESE TRAILS! These cables can move suddenly and change height. THEY CAN CAUSE DISMEMBERMENT OR DEATH. The following trails are the ones most often winched: Muerte, Upper Parachute, Wizard, Sunrise, and Burro Alley. This list is not comprehensive and other trails may be winched. ALWAYS GIVE SNOWCATS, SNOWMOBILES, AND ANY OTHER MACHINERY A WIDE BERTH. SEEK ALTERNATE ROUTES TO AVOID THEM.

Avalanche danger and other hazards exist both inside and outside ski area boundaries. KEEP OUT OF AREA NORTH OF THE TESUQUE PEAK TRIPLE CHAIRLIFT WHEN THERE IS NEW SNOW, as these areas may have Ski Patrol in them engaged in avalanche mitigation. Entering these areas puts you and the Ski Patrol at risk.

Skiing outside the ski area boundary is in a wild area where no avalanche mitigation measures have been taken. AVALANCHE DANGER, CLIFFS, AND OTHER NATURAL HAZARDS EXIST. THESE AREAS ARE NOT PATROLLED. You are responsible for your own safety both inside and outside the ski area boundary. Ski Patrol service is not available outside normal operating hours (9:00am to 4:00pm), or outside the ski area boundaries at any time. (

See you at the Santa Fe Ski Basin!

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2014

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2014 (Photo by Len Radin, New Mexico Magazine)

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (Photo by Len Radin, New Mexico Magazine)

Park A. Van Tassel, a local saloon owner, launched Albuquerque’s first hot-air balloon in 1882… Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (AIBF), the largest celebration of its kind, offers a full nine days to explore ballooning from every perspective. No visitor should miss the iconic on-field experience, where some 500 orbs inflate to sizes of 80 feet before gliding skyward.. (New Mexico Magazine)

In an inspiring and decidedly lofty article in the recent edition of New Mexico Magazine Ashley M. Biggers offers up five “off the beaten path… fresh ways to take in the drama of the skies” during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (AIBF):

  1. Toast the Ascent “At the AIBF viewing parties held at the award-winning Gruet Winery, sparkling-wine enthusiasts can forgo the ride and get straight to the toast. Attendees sip mimosas and snack on scones, fruit, and other breakfast fare while watching the balloons drift over the vineyards… Viewing parties take place on Oct. 4, 10, and 11, beginning at 7 a.m. Tickets: $10 and up. 8400 Pan American Freeway NE; (505) 821-0055;
  2. Crew a Balloon “To get an insider’s look at all that it takes to fly a hot-air balloon, visitors can volunteer as crew members… simply come to Balloon Fiesta Park on the Wednesday through Friday prior to the fiesta to sign up… Volunteers receive a pass to attend the remaining fiesta events for free… Fill out the crew registration form found at, or call (505) 821-1000.”
  3. Float the Fiesta Enjoy an “early-morning kayak trip with Quiet Waters Paddling Adventures. Tours depart before daybreak… Away from the crowds, the only noise is the gentle flow of the current, paddles dipping into the water, and burners firing as the candycolored envelopes glide overhead.” (505) 771-1234;
  4. VIP Breakfast Pamper yourself with traffic-free access, and a catered breakfast at the Diamond Club (Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum Foundation). “As the sun rises, visitors may choose to stay inside, viewing the festivities from floor-to-ceiling windows, or step out on the field-facing balcony to watch the balloons inflate and take off.” (505) 880-0500;
  5. Pedal to Paseo del Bosque “The Bikes & Balloons tour… begins at 5:30 a.m. at Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm, where Routes owners Josh Arnold and Heather Wess fit riders with bikes and helmets. Josh proves a worthy leader, carting breakfast burritos behind him to entice riders along Río Grande and Montaño boulevards to the Paseo del Bosque trail… there’s little to break the predawn calm other than the thrum of bike tires against the pavement… After watching the balloons take flight, riders set off on a leisurely return leg, marked by scenic views of the autumnal bosque and hot-air balloons dotting Albuquerque’s robin’s-egg-blue skies.” (505) 933-5667;

All five options sound incredible! We missed the Balloon Fiesta this fall by a week, but we’re hoping to make it next year. What about you? It’s not too early to make plans since accommodations and many venues fill up early…