This 1880's railroad town, tucked at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, is known for its narrow gauge steam train, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. The train whistle silences for the winter and the tourists quit coming as the snowflakes fall and the mountain passes become covered. The area transcends into a winter wonderland and Chama becomes a quiet, sleepy spot where skiers in search of peaceful settings and pristine areas, discover the wintertime charms of Chama.
Sargents' Wildlife Refuge, a 20,000-acre elk refuge turns into a winter playground for cross-country skiers and snowshoers. While the area is ungroomed for the most part, the terrain is gently sloping with a spectacular mountain backdrop. Because Sargents' is off limits to machinery, no snowmobiles are allowed, ensuring a quiet, serene experience.
here are several yurt rentals in the San Juan wilderness area around Cumbres Pass, for the overnight adventurer. The yurts are easily accessible along well-marked rails with no avalanche danger. Both Telemark and extended touring terrain connect the yurts, and even offer a yurt-to-yurt option.
Chama sits at 8,000 feet altitude rising to over 10,000 feet at nearby Cumbres Pass. One of the snowiest areas of New Mexico with an average level of over 100 inches annually, Chama offers consistent snow. This past season, Chama received over 185 inches of precipitation. A variety of lodges, cabins, and B&Bs are available for the overnighter and a number of restaurants and shops remain open year-round. Chama is also host town for the annual Chama Chili Ski Classic (2009 marks their 36th season). This cross-country ski race, held on Presidents' weekend for all ages and levels, is set above Chama around 9,000 feet altitude in a spectacular alpine setting.