Pajarito Mountain Ski Area-USA

Pajarito Mountain Ski Area

Situated on the eastern slopes of Jemez Mountain Range of New Mexico is the Pajarito Mountain Ski Area. It remains operational 3 days in a week, between Fridays and Sundays in addition to Christmas holidays and other federal holidays. 
The resort is in-fact located on the northern face of the Pajarito Mountain which by itself has a summit elevation of 10,440 feet and a vertical drop of 1,440 feet. With over 300 acres of proper and well-crafted skiable terrain the Pajarito Mountain Ski Area also offers an excellent view of the Rio Grande Valley and each year provides with prodigious powder. The mountain's terrain and slopes are enough to occupy a large number of people, therefore, do not particularly crowd. 

As far as the lifts of the area are concerned – there are a total of 6 of them and together they are able to cover the entire terrain evenly. The ski area actually sits atop, almost as if meditating above Los Alamos in the Jemez Mountains. It has been in operation for over 2 decades now. Pajarito Mountain Ski Area also provides its customers with rental services, cafes, and diners along with a snow sports school. 
Pajarito Mountain Ski Area is managed and operated by a non-profit organization – The Los Alamos Ski Club. Generally, the season at this resort begins during Christmas and finally concludes sometime in early April. However, there have also been situations where the season here has begun on the day of Thanksgiving and then concluded much later in towards the end of April. Snowmaking facilities were only recently installed at the ski area and it is able to compensate the natural deficiencies so that the customers do not have to in any way suffer. 

Now, Pajarito Mountain Ski Area is not just about winters. Summertime here is also filled with numerous fun-filled activities. People often particularly come here to indulge in mountain biking because of an intricate network of single and double track mountain bike trails that go all along the surface of the mountain. There is also an all-new single track trail that goes straight to the summit. The Pajarito Mountain Ski Area has a substantial number of lifts through which you can access the downhill while you can also go take a free ride mountain biking off the Spruce chair. Furthermore, there are hiking trails and horse riding facilities available, however, you are not allowed to take the horses on the mountain bike trails. 

Right next to Pajarito is the campground of Los Alamos County and the Santa Fe National Forest; and Valles Caldera National Preserve.

In the Spanish language, the word – Pajarito implies ‘little bird’ and rightly so. The resort entirely has the appearance of a bird's nest. If one delves deeper into the etymological roots of the name, you will find a reference to a certain Edgar Lee Hewett. He was an archaeologist of quite a reputation. Now, he was inspired by Tsirege which meant ‘bird place’ in the Tewa language. The entire region has in-fact been home to numerous scientists, particularly archaeologists because of the numerous findings that were derived from the region. There is an archaeological site on the property that is otherwise owned by Los Alamos National Laboratory which has been the reason as to why curious minds have been flocking here for decades. 


The Pajarito Mountain Ski Area was practically conceived back in 1957. However, it was nothing like a resort back then because there were no toilets or water, the terrain was not groomed and nor did they have any modern lifts and relied just upon a few of its soft slopes. 

Eventually, in 1962 the Aspen run was fitted with a T-bar for the season beginning in 1963. Additionally, about 400 acres or 1.6 square kilometers of land were purchased by the then promoters. First of the chairlifts were installed on the Spruce run for the 1969 - 1970 season. The next chairlift (a double) could only be installed much later in the 1976 - 1977 season. It was installed on the Big Mother run. At the beginning of the next decade (1981 – 1982) a beginners lift was installed which was meant to replace the rope tow. In the very next season, 1982 – 1983, replacing the T-bar an all new triple chairlift was installed. In the summer of 1987, the construction of a new ski lodge commenced and it was completed by the 1988 – 1980 seasons. The Townsite run was remaining so in 1994 a quad chairlift was installed there.

Quick facts and figures

Base elevation: It is about – 9,000 feet or 2,700 meters. 
Lodge elevation: It is about 9,200 feet or 2,800 meters.
Summit elevation: It is about 10,440 feet or 3,180 meters.
Vertical rise: It is about 1,440 feet or 440 meters.
Trails: There are a total of 44 trails which can be classified as –
o Beginners: 20%
o Intermediate: 50%
o Advanced or expert: 30%
Area: The total skiable area at Pajarito Mountain Ski Area is about 300 acres
Lifts: There are a total of 6 of them which can be classified as – 
o Quad chair: 1
o Triple chair: 1
o Double chair: 3
o Rope tow: 1
Services or facilities: Rental store, retail store, café, a school, and ski patrolling.
Snowfall: On an average, the region receives 125 inches worth of snowfall each year.

Details about the tickets and passes
•    Season passes: The season’s passes feature – five mountains on one pass along with an all new payment plan. They also offer something called – the Power Pass and it is considered as the most powerful pass in the Southwest. 
If you take the power pass you will be able to ski at 5 mountains - Purgatory Resort, Hesperus Ski Area, Arizona Snowbowl, Sipapu Ski & Summer Resort, and Pajarito Mountain Ski Area.

Secondly, the Pass Payment Plan does not require you to pay any amounts of interest and the price of the pass is divided into equal monthly payments. On the 30th of each month, a said amount will be deducted from your account automatically. So, by the time it is the 30th of November your pass will not only be paid for while at the same time you wouldn’t have felt a pinch. Additionally, with the Power Pass you also get to enjoy an all summer pass holder benefits and this is even valid while you are still paying for your pass. They also have a refund policy and if you want to access them you will have to select the Seasons Pass Refund option while you are purchasing the pass. For any other issue or clarification mak sure that you contact them either through email or through the phone. 

The Mountain 

Located in the north-central region of New Mexico – the Pajarito Mountain Ski Area is at a distance of 5 miles (west) of Los Alamos. Overall the ski area comprises of 750 acres of land which is privately owned by the Los Alamos Ski Club. The ski area came into existence sometime in the early 1950s but was only transformed into a proper skiing destination much later in the decade. Most people come here for the great view of the Rio Grande Valley. 

If you want more details about the mountain and how the resort came about then you could also read up - Just Crazy to ski – a Fifty-Year History of Skiing at Los Alamos written by Deanna Morgan. 

Further Improvements

Pajarito Mountain Ski Area in the year 2015 filled up its pond with 10 million gallons of water to facilitate snowmaking. With this addition, the resort is not only able to have greater quantities of good quality snow abut also at the same time open up a bit early. They work in association with the Los Alamos Ski Club to maintain the 700 acres of land which has densely planted trees. Now, this initiative also aims at mitigating incidents such as that of fire and at the same time creating prospects of future trails. 

Pajarito Mountain Statistics

Base Elevation: 9,000 feet

Summit Elevation: 10,440 feet

Furthermore, there is another initiative underway wherein improvements are taking place at Sipapu. The mountain crew is pegged to finish the Howdy Extension project by the 2016-2017 seasons. Primarily because of this project both the regions of Howdy and Lower Bambi extended. That is to say, almost 5 extra acres of land will be added to the given terrain. It was in-fact only during the previous season that Sipapu added its first quad chairlift making it the third new lift at the resort in the last 5 years. 

Among the said developments at Sipapu is also the remodelling initiative of the historical lodge located there. When this concludes the lodges popular day rooms will be reinstated along with a multi-purpose gathering room and holistically improving the lodges layout and function. 
Now, to list the various kinds of developments that took place here at the resort:
•    Purgatory:
o    Replaced Legends Lift 8 with a high-speed detachable quad
o    Returned the resort to its original name, Purgatory
o    Built two new trails off of Ray's Ridge
o    Added snowmaking on Purgatory's backside
•    Arizona Snowbowl:
o    Added the new Humphreys Peak Quad, Snowbowl's first quad and the ski area's first new lift in three decades
o    Began planning and engineering for the Grand Canyon Express, Arizona's first high-speed 6-pack lift
o    Added snowmaking to service the future Grand Canyon Express and on key trails below Midway
o    Expanded the popular Ridge and Phoenix trails
•    Sipapu:
o Added the resort's first quad chairlift
o Added a new trail off of the new quad
o Added new snowmaking infrastructure for the mountain's staple "first to open, last to close" trails
•    Pajarito 
o Added a new trail
o Improved water collection efforts for snowmaking
o Ski Season 2016/2017

You have heard so much about the Pajarito Mountain Ski Area and you have also made up your mind. So, now, how do you actually reach the said ski area?  
Basically, it is located at a distance of about 5 miles in the west of Los Alamos. Broadly the resort can be easily accessible from both directions - east or west. 

Now, if you are travelling from Santa Fe or Espanola. In this case, you should take the NM 502 till the point there comes the “Y” split east of the town. You can then go to NM 502 as it passes through Los Alamos’ Town Centre. Therein comes the LANL security checkpoint which will be located on the south side of the Omega Bridge. It is indeed open for public provided the required identification cards are displayed. Otherwise, you can very well take the West Road which will be at the traffic light just northwards of the Omega Bridge. This way you can avoid the checkpoint altogether. 

Next, if you are travelling from the Jemez on the State Road 4 all that you have to do is taking a left turn and take the NM 501. Once you have travelled a little further you will have to take another left turn leading you to the West Road. This turn will be just before the west checkpoint. 

Irrespective of the way that you choose – you will have to take the West Road and it is well signed which you will have to keep an eye on and secondly, you will have to turn onto the Camp May Road. Next, you will have to drive about 3 miles into the ski area.

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