Adventure Family Travel Guide to Red River, New Mexico in Winter

When planning a trip to a laidback mountain ski town, New Mexico may not be the first to come to mind. But after reading this post about Red River, New Mexico in winter, I think you will see why it should! Last weekend we stepped back in time to the “Old West” in Red River, a quaint adventure town with so much winter fun! As ski towns go, it’s a real gem! It has that small town feel, everyone is friendly, everything is walkable, the lift lines are short, the lift tickets are affordable, and the food is smothered in green chile!

This post is in partnership with Visit Red River, New Mexico. All opinions are my own. 

Collage of photos from Red River, New Mexico Winter Vacation

What to do in Red River, New Mexico in winter

Ski at Red River Ski & Summer Area

Two kids skiing at Red River Ski Area
Family on ski slope
Skier getting to lift lines at Red River Ski Area

The base of Red River Ski Area is at 8,750 feet so it gets great snow. In addition, they have the most powerful snow making systems in the state and make snow on 85% of the mountain, which is really impressive! While it doesn’t boast high speed lifts, it does have reasonably priced lift tickets, super short lift lines (we NEVER waited), and varied terrain for beginners to experts. Explore the lifts and trails here


Go Tubing at Red River Ski & Summer Area

Girl standing on magic carpet with tube
Family winter tubing
Girl on tubing hill

We happened to visit Red River during a very cold weather system, so we were bundled from head to toe, but we did not want to miss the tubing! And it was worth it! After the lifts close, the beginner area opens up for tubing. It’s a great little hill that allows you to take the magic carpet back up. You can link with your friends and family’s tubes for “party tubing” or just fly down on your own! See the calendar and purchase tickets in advance here


Snowshoe or Cross Country Ski at Enchanted Forest

Kids in front of Sasquatch cut out snowshoeing
Family selfie snowshoeing
Boy snowshoeing

On our last day before driving home, we spent some time on the Snowshoeing trails at the Enchanted Forest Cross Country Ski Area. Last year, the area suffered extreme damage from 600-115 mph winds that made 95% of the trails impassable. With the help of the community, staff, and forest service they have made incredible progress in restoring this beloved area. There are miles of beautiful snowshoe and cross country trails, as well as day and overnight yurts. It’s only 3 miles outside of town and definitely worth a visit! You can rest all necessary gear at the day lodge. 


Walk the Red River Nature Trail

River in the winter

This trail parallels main street, but hugs the river for beautiful scenery. The Red River Nature Trail is an easy and flat 3.2 mile out and back if you start from the main ski lift. 

Look at Holiday Lights

Family looking at holiday loghts
Kids with Christmas lights

During the holiday season, the whole town is decorated with lights so just a stroll down Main Street is magical. But be sure to walk by and through the town park (Brandenburg Park) is decorated with holiday lights and decorations. Plus, the playground is fun for the kids in the day and night!


Watch the Torch Parade

Torch Parade
Girl in front of fireworks

Every Saturday at 7:00pm  during ski season, a group of skiers sky down “The Face” holding torches and light the slopes. Fireworks go off as they pass. The Torch Parade is truly a magical experience and worth standing out in the cold to watch. Grab a hot chocolate at the Lift House before it starts to keep you warm while you watch the event. Do not miss this one! 


Shop small at the local Red River stores

Boy with Santa in old car on Main Street in Red River
Boy with sign that says "I skied the Face"
Boy in front of Red River Trading Company

There are so many cute boutiques, gift shops and mountain outfitters along Main Street. They have games, candy, outdoor gear, souvenirs, home decor, jewelry, and apparel.We got some last minute Christmas presents at Spruce Red River – where the kind owner served homemade cookies! We picked up some souvenir t-shirts and stuffed animals at the year round Christmas store Red River Trading Company and browsed western gifts at Frye’s Old Town. 

Kids in front of candy store
Kids in front of Red River Candy Company
Kids with big bag of candy

And of course, we had to visit BOTH local candy stores, and it’s really hard to choose a favorite. The fudge at Candy Mountain Fudge at the Candy Crate was so rich and delicious, and Red River Candy Company had so many “mix and match” throwback candies perfect for the road trip home. 


Where to eat in Red River, New Mexico in winter

Kids drinking hot chocolate at T-bucks Cafe
Boy in front of license plates on wall
Kids eating lunch on deck with ski hill in the background

There are so many options for delicious food in Red River! Wherever you go, make sure you try the New Mexico staple of green chile! For breakfast, we loved the green chile burritos at Shotgun Willie’s Cafe and the traditional breakfast (and donuts) at T-Bucks family restaurant. If you want to get first chair on the mountain and are looking for a quick option, Steam Coffee has great coffee and pastries in a hip renovated train car. For lunch, we loved the deck view of “the Face” of Red River Ski Area from The Grill at the Lift House

Green Chile burger
Red River Brewing outdoor seating and fireplace
Bull of the Woods Saloon

There are tons of dinner options! We enjoyed Red River Brewing Company’s green chile burger, watching the football games on the big screen at the legendary Bull of the Woods Saloon, and heard great things from the locals about Vine + Dine and Sundance Mexican Restaurant. We also enjoyed a lovely apres ski wine tasting at Noisy Waters Winery. For dessert, you can find ice cream treats at The Dairy Bar or frozen yogurt at Bearly Awake Coffee


Where to stay in Red River, New mexico in winter

Kids in front of Alpine Lodge in Red River, New Mexico
Boy in snow with ski hill behind him
Inside of Alpine Lodge rooms

We enjoyed the amenities and location of Alpine Lodge and would stay there again! It is directly across the main ski lift and close to lots of restaurants and shops. It sits right on the Red River with beautiful views of the slopes. It has indoor hot tubs, a cozy fire pit by the river, a large lawn, covered picnic area, and outdoor grills. They have options for larger groups and multi-room cabins as well.


How to get to Red River, New Mexico in Winter

Family selfie in front of Welcome to New Mexico sign

Red River is in Taos County along the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway linking it to the Taos Valley in Northern New Mexico. It’s less than 5 hours to drive to Red River from Denver, Colorado or Amarillo, Texas. Or just 2.5 hours from Santa Fe and 3 hours from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Red River is in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains at 8,750 so it does get a lot of snow! Keep this in mind when planning transportation. If you are looking to fly, check out these options

Let me know if you have ever been to Red River in the comments or if you found this post helpful in your planning! 



  1. Joni Dillard

    Are there any winter horse drawn sled rides?

    • raisinghikers_Kristin

      We did not ride any horse drawn sleighs while we were there but it’s totally the kind of town to do it. Check out Red River Stables as they may offer them!

  2. Kelly

    I so want to go here! I had no idea it even snowed in New Mexico 😆

    • raisinghikers_Kristin

      I know! It’s definitely not what you think of when you think New Mexico but they are legit mountains!


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