Forecasters say it may take a bit for the El Niño pattern to settle into a southerly flow, but the southern-tier resorts of New Mexico and Arizona have already cranked up for this season – with upgrades all around.
At Arizona Snowbowl, intermediate skiers and riders get a whole bunch of new blue-rated terrain with the Humphreys Peak Quad, accessible both from Hart Prairie lift and main mountain. The resort also has solidified partnerships with at least nine Flagtaff motels and hotels.
New Mexico’s Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort celebrates the new season by starting up the resort’s first-ever quad chairlift. There’s a new run cut under the four-seat lift to increase the resort’s green- and blue-rated portfolio. Partner resort Pajarito above Los Alamos, has its upgraded snowmaking system going full strength, permitting the earliest opening in more than a decade.
Skiers and snowboarders who come to Taos Ski Valley can be sidewalk-superintendents as The Blake, a 80-room hotel, goes up in the middle of the village all season. They can try out new glades cut over the summer as well.
Preseason snowfall allowed Ski Santa Fe to open with nearly all of the mountain open. Early-season demo days provide opportunity to try out the newest equipment right on the hill.
After a very short 2014-2015 season, Sandia Peak loyalists expect much better at the day-trip mountain above Albuquerque. Always an unusual thrill is riding the Sandia Peak Tramway to the top of the ski and snowboard mountain.
In Arizona, Sunrise Park Resort sits ready for some serious snowfall if El Niño sags far to the south. Night skiing begins Dec. 31, and there are always overnight deals with nearby casino.
Photo: Top -- Arizona Snowbowl welcomes El Nino to its new intermediate slopes (Arizona Snowball/Facebook); Santa Fe ski patrollers work on fencing at the snowy New Mexico resort Ski Santa Fe/Facebook)