Spring Break

Spring Break 2016 in the Enchanted Circle

Spring is still winter in most parts of the Enchanted Circle—sometimes even as late as summer. Which is just a roundabout (if somewhat accurate) way of saying that there’s that much more for people to do up here during spring break. Whether you’re wanting more family-oriented activities or something a bit more Mountain Dew-y—or a little of both—the Enchanted Circle has it all. Are you looking for the traditional Easter Egg hunt, the one where kids can follow around a giant Peter Cottontail? Or are you hoping for something a little more outré—the kind of quest where sock monkeys prowl the mountain in search of Bigfoot? Or maybe you’re hoping to follow up the children’s glow stick parade with a multimedia chamber music art and light show? The Enchanted Circle can accommodate. And then some. Below, a loose itinerary to your S.B. in the E.C.

On March 3, the Taos Ski Valley hosts a 2-Star Freeride Qualifying event (in conjunction with the International Freeskiers and Snowboarders Association and the Freeride World Tour). Kids from all over, but mostly from New Mexico and the Four Corners states (along with whatever kids are here on spring break—and who entered ahead of time), compete. And kids from all over and of all ages show up to see which top athlete in each category will be awarded the wildcard spot in the 4-Star Freeride Championships, which are held the following two days (March 4th and 5th).

That same day, for the non-Red Bull crowd, there’s the option of touring the Carson National Forest up at Red River Ski & Summer Area with one of their rangers, or, if you’d rather stay indoors, there’s Art Speaks—Works by Renowned Taos Pueblo Artists opens at the Taos Community Auditorium Encore Gallery. Running through April 24th, the show includes works from some of the Pueblo’s premier artists: John Suazo, Ryan Suazo, Debbie Lujan, Jocelyn Martinez, and Pollen Shorty.

That same weekend, Angel Fire Resort kicks off its Fiesta Del Sol Spring Break Celebration—a two-week-long clambake that opens that Friday with an NM(X) Rail Jam. More for the experienced than the novice, this jibbing jamboree (jibbing being that nutty thing skiers and snowboarders do on rails, pipes, towers, walls, pretty much any surface they can play off of) brings in riders from NM (X) to do their parkour-ish thing. Also that day: First Tracks in the early morning, Night Tracks (starting that evening and going on nightly for the next two weeks), and the Ski Bum Ball. Another option is the Spring Break Beach Bash on March 11th and 18th with H2 Uptown and Resort Properties of Angel Fire that will feature live music, food and drink specials.

Over in Red River, they’re no less festive—actually, Red River Ski & Summer Area is ending the season on a high note as it does every year throughout spring break. Their Torchlight Parade & Fireworks, which has been going on every Saturday and Holidays, finishes up on the 19th. But the Children’s Glow Stick Parade, that’s only March 11th and 18th (and available to kids who can ride well enough). On Sunday the 6th, weather permitting, the ski area brings out the Pioneer Flyer: a seated zip line that pulls you up backwards across Pioneer Road to a 65-foot tower on The Face (above Platinum Chair) and lets you freefall back across the fishing pond—at about 35 mph!

Week Two of Angel Fire’s Fiesta starts up all over again on the 13th—with more First Tracks, more Night Skiing, but, among the various theme days during the week (Hawaiian shirt Monday, Retro Wednesday), new activities as well: a pie eating contest (March 14th), a St. Patrick’s Day party (March 17th), and a Fatty Paddy Bike Race (March 19th), where fat tire cyclists dress in their favorite St. Paddy’s Day outfits and drink, bike, and ski, or all three at once.

March 12th is just busy all over. Taoseños get a jump on scavenging (and Easter) with their annual New Belgium Scavenger Hunt—that’s the one where the sock monkeys try to bag Bigfoot, part of the overall spirit of Keepin’ It Weird, but also keepin’ it worthy. Sponsored by New Belgium Brewing and the Taos Ski Valley, with a chance at winning a pair of custom Fat Tire skis by Rocky Mountain Underground, proceeds from the day’s event go to the Field Institute of Taos, a nonprofit that offers kids outdoors education programs and activities.

For those still needing that adrenalin fix, Red River will be starting its We Be Jammin’ Sundown Rail Jam at, well, at sundown, at the base of The Face behind the Life House, wherein even more skiers and snowboarders show off their jibbin’ skills. And for those who didn’t get enough fun at Taos’ Scavenger Hunt, they can back to the Taos Ski Valley to help celebrate Ernie Blake, founder of TSV, with a torchlight parade, fireworks, and birthday cake. Also that day, and no less spirited, is the 13th Annual Cardboard Derby over at the Sipapu Ski & Summer Resort. Not just little kids (12 and under, and 13-20) but big kids (too big?) race down the mountain course in a vessel of their own creation (made only out of cardboard, duct tape, string or twine and paint—think soap-box derby but cruder). Winners get a shot at $250 (from local car dealer Henry Valencia), a Red Bull-branded full suspension mountain bike, and lodging packages from Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino and El Pueblo Lodge.

March 18th and 19th, at the Taos Ski Valley, there’s the Ben Myers Ridge-A-Thon. Now in its 20th year, this fundraising competition started out as a way to help local extreme skier Ben Meyers pay his medical expenses. (He later died of cancer at 26.) Now put on in conjunction with the Taos Community Foundation, and as part of the Raise the Ridge awareness campaign, this event has raised over $550,000, and expanded its reach, now helping many others in the community facing emergency situations. The first year, about 20 or so, mainly friends and family, participated, including TSV Ski School instructor Jeff Mugleston. This year’s event should bring in 100-120 participants.

“The reason people come back is the event’s deeper shining core: Ben, the excellent spirit for whom it carries the flame of living life to the fullest, exercising fearlessness, and caring passionately for others,” says Caitlin Legere of Raise the Ridge (and director of the Taos Sports Alliance). “Ben was all about these things, and it does us all well to remember to live in this way. I’m not sure about the bigger picture, but I do know that the vibe on the mountain is that we work hard, serve our community, and support one another through this. And that feeling is joyful and contagious and inspires greater levels of effort on the mountain and giving by donors.”
Later that day, the Taos Chamber Music Group will present Into the Light at the Harwood Museum of Art. This multimedia collaboration mixes the work of sound and light artist Sasha vom Dorp with pieces performed by the TCMG.

The next day over in Red River they’ll be celebrating the end of ski season with the Annual Pond Skim. Not unlike the yearly polar bear plunge off Long Island, coldwater daredevils will try to cross the Red River Ski & Summer Area’s makeshift pond, some in costume, some in wetsuits, some with little more than their arm floaties. 

And if you want to escape the crowds during part of your Spring Break, the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument near Questa never closes. Enjoy a drive, or even a hike (weather permitting) into this dramatic, open scenery.

The month comes to a more conventional close at the Taos Ski Valley when it hosts their annual Easter Egg Hunt. Sure, it’s Taos, so there’s bound to be some outside-the-basket activities, but this is mainly for the kiddos. And a good way to honor the legacies of bunnies everywhere.

Helpful links for planning your Spring Break in the EC, all members of the EC Marketing Coop:
Auslander Condos in Red River
Resort Properties of Angel Fire
H2 Uptown restaurant in Angel Fire
BeyondTaos Community Calendar

Images, from top: On slope at Angel Fire Resort, Beach Week at Red River, Night Tracks at Angel Fire, Mina Tank in Red River,  Rail Jam and Pond Skimming at Red River, on Highline Ridge at Taos. All photos courtesy of the named resorts.