Growing up in Florida, I never had the opportunity to learn to ski as a child. But now since we live in such close proximity to so much mountainous terrain in New Mexico, skiing is something I’d like my kids to be able to experience. My kids all learned to ski when they were younger. But because of our team sports schedules, we haven’t been skiing in three years. We recently got the chance to visit Sipapu Ski Area. And since there are no games or meets this winter (boo COVID), our schedule was free and clear to head to the mountains.
Here are some helpful tips for parents taking kids skiing at Sipapu Ski Area.
1. Follow the COVID rules.
Just like every other business in New Mexico, Sipapu Ski Area is required to implement and enforce mask-wearing, social distancing, and sanitation requirements. We can all help our favorite NM businesses by voluntarily following these guidelines. So don’t forget your face masks!
2. Create a packing list. (Or print ours here!)
I am not gonna lie to you. There is a lot of gear involved when it comes to skiing, and it’s easy to forget stuff. Your ski day or weekend will go so much better if you’re prepared though. We store all of our ski gear in a bin and just pop that in the car when it’s time to go. My friend Lauren stores each family member’s items in fabric cube bins for easy access. Every year make sure that your kids’ snow pants still fit them. (We had to make a last-minute run to a sporting goods store because my 12-year-old’s snow pants were actually snow shorts.) Download this printable checklist to make sure you don’t forget anything.
3. Get your kids ski lessons.
Unless you’re an expert yourself, do not try to teach your kids to ski yourself. No one will have a good day. Enlist the professionals here. Lessons are available at Sipapu for kids ages 6 and up. And when we’re not in the midst of a global pandemic, kids even younger can participate in Sipapu’s ski school, Yeti Club.
4. Prepare for lots of breaks.
Embrace a slow pace. Don’t push kids too hard. Allow for snacks and hot chocolate breaks. (Our family even brought a thermos of hot chocolate. It’s also available for purchase though.) And if your kids are ready to leave before the end of the day, it’s OK! My philosophy is that I want them to have fun and want to go skiing again. So I don’t want them to get too worn out. It’s also very helpful to have two adults on the trip (especially since ski school isn’t an option right now). One adult can hang with the kids on the magic carpet and bunny slope, while the other heads off to the chair lift and some more challenging hills. And you can just keep trading off throughout the day.
5. Dress in layers.
It’s a good idea to dress in layers because you don’t want kids to get too cold. Have all the gear and hand warmers available for them. But skiing can get hot in New Mexico because of that glorious sunshine. So making it easy to shed a layer or two helps as well. Along those lines, don’t forget the sunscreen and the lip balm.
6. Gather as much information as possible about the ski area.
If you know what to expect about the ski area you’re headed to, it will just help you be that much more prepared. Sipapu Ski Area is about two hours and fifteen minutes away from Albuquerque. Get those iPads charged, and don’t forget car snacks. Make sure everyone goes to the bathroom before you leave home because there are long stretches with nowhere to stop. The good news is that you’ll be driving the High Road to Taos, which is simply breathtaking. (I just have to pinch myself sometimes about how beautiful our state is!)
Sipapu Ski Area is a place full of small-town, New Mexican charm. Lodging is available at Sipapu if you’d like to make a weekend of it. And Taos is only thirty minutes away for even more options.
Indoor bathrooms are available at Sipapu. However, due to COVID restrictions, there is nowhere available to warm up inside right now. You will spend your whole day outside, so make sure to check the weather before you go. My family and I visited on a sunny day. We were perfectly warm all day. However, at about 4pm this time of year, the sun goes behind the mountain and it starts to get cold quickly. I recommend trying to leave before then. All rental equipment is due at 4:35pm anyway.
There are many picnic tables available, so feel free to pack your own food. You can also plan to order food at the Riverside Cafe. You can order food from your phone while you’re at the top of the mountain, ski down, and pick up your order at the bottom. Pretty convenient, huh?
Purchase your lift tickets, lessons, rentals, etc. ahead of time to save time. If you purchase at least two weeks in advance, you’ll get some big discounts. And here’s some great news: kids under 10 ski free. Get all the details about pricing and hours of operation at Sipapu here.
7. Do it!
There will be hard moments. You will have to pack ALL THE THINGS for ALL THE HUMANS in your house. But it will be worth it. Learning to ski and accomplish something will be a gift to your children that will follow them through life.