- Overall Rating 4
- Family Friendly 4
- All-Mtn. Terrain 4
- Terrain Park 2
- Nightlife 2
Pros: Plenty of variety of terrain (when there is snow)
Cons: Inconsistant snowfall
Recommended For: Family Friendly
Date Visited: Mar 1, 2009
Ski Apache is a great place to ski. I have been skiing there since 1967. There is a great variety of terrain from gentle groomed to cruisers to scary steep runs and intermediates in between. They have a great system of snow making in place, which helps to make up for the years where there isn't much snowfall. When the snowfall has been abundant it is a really great place to ski.
I have found holidays do get crowded, especially if there is isn't much snow and few runs are open. I have had times of waiting over an hour to ride chair 3 (Easy Street), where you can walk up to the top of the chair in 10 minutes. So, I avoid going up on those peak days.
On the off season (non-holidays) you can usually find empty lines and be lapping it. I have had days of skiing down Capitain over a dozen times in an hour. By the way, if you haven't been there, Capitan is one of the steepest intermediate runs you will ever find. It is fairly short, but it puts a smile on my face every time.
Beginners will usually stick to the bunny hill or easy street, but some will find their way over to chair 4 to get to deep freeze or chair 2 for snow park. If you are a beginner, please note that some of the blue intermediate runs are pretty steep. Deep Freeze, on the back side of Capitan, and the runs off of the midway exit of chair 2, Snow Park and Smokey Bear are good for ski that don't have a lot of skill yet, but can turn and control their speed.
Intermediate skiers have a lot of choices. The best runs for this level of skiers are up off of the elk quad lift (I think it's chair 5). Very few beginners will go over there. I have never run into more than ten people in line on the elk quad, it's usually empty. If there is enough snow to allow skiing from the top of the area, Chino, Meadows, East of Meadows are all great runs with a few groups of trees and a beautiful view of the mountain.
Expert and advanced intermediates will enjoy all the black diamond runs from the top ridge. These are very steep and can develop some serious bumps. I recall ever seeing any of these being groomed. Unfortunately, they are rarely open unless there is enough snow fall. When snow fall has been light, look for the black runs off of the elk quad, the short run top notch down into deep freeze, or Capitan.
I have seen some reviews that mention having bad experiences with some of the lift operators. I personally have not experienced this. I could see that during the peak days that this could happen, but my experience has been pleasant every time.
The other point that comes up is the road up to the area. It is pretty scary, especially on days after a big snowfall, if you have never been up there. I have never needed chains (I'm usually in a Honda Odessy or a Civic), but I have them just in case. There are days when 4 wheel drive or chains on a two wheel drive are required. The road is narrow and has some tight turns. There some big steep drops off the side of the road with little or no safety barriers in some places. It gets frustrating when you get stuck behind a tour bus or a driver going 5 mph all the way up the hill. If you see cars stacking up behind you, pull over and let them by.
If you live close to the area or are getting tired of the crowds at the more popular areas, you should give Ski Apache a try. My whole family like it. We have skiers and snowboards in our group. We all have a great time up there.
If you are going for the night life, it's all down in Ruidoso. It's a small town, but you can find what you are looking for. If it's your thing, hit the casinos.
Hope this helps, its how I see it.