Review of Angel Fire Resort
During a fun summer vacation to New Mexico, we spent 5 days in Red River (read about our Red River Vacation) attending a 3 day music festival, riding the chair lift, white water rafting, riding up the mountains on a Kawasaki Mule, and eating and drinking way too much. After all that fun, we headed to Angel Fire which is only 30 miles from Red River.
Angel Fire is home to jaw-dropping eye candy sunsets, majestic mountain vistas, and adrenaline boosting fun like zipping through the trees at 40 miles an hour or trying to hit a small green 200' below the tee box! Angel Fire Village sits at an elevation of 8406' which you'll really feel after arriving from the Texas flatlands. The Village is home to only 1216 friendly residents (but lots of Texans during the winter as well as summer months), is in the heart of the Moreno Valley surrounded by the imposing Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and the average temperature during the summer is 75 during the day and the 40's at night - a welcome escape from the 105 degree days in most of Texas in July and August. And Angel Fire is home to Angel Fire Resort with a variety of lodging and dining options and lots of fun things to do. This review of Angel Fire Resort will give you our perspective on what we liked about Angel Fire Resort.
Angel Fire History
Let's start this review of Angel Fire Resort with a little history. The Mache Ute Indians called the valley and the strange fiery glow over the Agua Fria mountain chain "Fire of the Gods and Angels." That name was later changed to "The Place of the Fire of the Angels" and in 1845 Christopher "Kit" Carson observed the unusual light effect over the mountains and translated the name to Angel Fire. For years, Moreno Valley was mainly cattle and timber country but in the 1960's Roy Lebus the Valley's primary landowner decided to create a ski resort and in 1966 the first few ski trails were opened. The equipment and facilities at Angel Fire Resort were limited and there was no lodging. Over the years, the Resort and the Village of Angel Fire has developed into what is now regarded as New Mexico's premier year round resort. The peak of the mountain at Angel Fire Resort rises to 10,677' and is home to both summer and winter recreational activities plus excellent panoramic vistas for miles of Moreno Valley, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and Wheeler Peak which is New Mexico's tallest peak at 13,161'.
Today Angel Fire Resort includes:
- over 23,000 acres of fun, vacation lodging, and beautiful mountain residential home sites
- Angel Fire Ski Area with trails, terrain parks, tubing, and more for winter enthusiasts
- miles of multi-use trails for hiking and biking
- the Lodge at Angel Fire Resort with 121 slope side rooms, a restaurant, pool and hot tub, meeting facilities, fitness center, gift shop, and game room
- Angel Fire Country Club with an 18 hole championship golf course, tennis courts, and a beautiful upscale 27,000 square foot club house loaded with amenities
- an adrenaline pumping zip line and world renowned bike park plus lots of other things to do
The Lodge at Angel Fire Resort
During a summer vacation to New Mexico, after spending 5 fun days in Red River we drove to Angel Fire for a three day stay at Angel Fire Resort Lodge. The Lodge is at the base of the ski area making it perfect for a winter ski-in ski-out vacation and excellent as a place to stay to have a fun vacation in the summer or for weddings, corporate events, or reunions.
The Angel Fire Resort Lodge has 121 rooms that are a mixture of kings and double beds. We stayed in one of the recently updated rooms on the third floor facing west - which is important only because these rooms have a balcony with table and chairs that overlook the mountains and the stunningly beautiful sunsets. Our room seemed larger than most standard hotel type rooms and it included: a work desk and chair with free Wi-Fi, multi-drawer dresser with a huge flat screen TV, two very comfortable queen beds with 4 pillows (some mornings I didn't want to get out of bed and some evenings I couldn't wait to get the tired sunburned body on top of that soft mattress!), small fireplace, great balcony, bathroom and shower, coffee pot, and a small refrigerator.
When we arrived our room was a little stuffy so I sat on the patio and enjoyed the view for a few minutes and then for what seemed like 20 minutes I looked for a thermostat and couldn't find it, so I called the front desk and was politely told "sir, we don't have heating or air conditioning - open you patio door or if it's too cold turn on your fireplace! With a red blushing face, I promptly opened the patio door to let in the cool evening air. But my only complaint was that because you have to open the door to cool the room, which never seemed to really get cool even though it was 40 at night, you heard all the noise from outside - cars parking, people talking, maintenance workers, etc. The secret turned out to be to turn on the box fan on high and do a lot during the day to be really tired when it's time to hit the sack.
The Lodge at Angel Fire Resort has an indoor swimming pool, jacuzzi hot tub, fitness center, and a gift shop loaded with items waiting for you to take them home. For dining you have several options:
Legends Grill provides family friendly dining - burgers, salads, sandwiches, steaks, chicken, and more plus a wide selection of beers. Legends also has a nice bar and two pool tables.
Chianti's Pizzeria is a family friendly restaurant specializing in a variety of pizzas.
The Coffee House has specialty coffees, fresh baked pastries, deli selections (sandwiches to salads), breakfast items like eggs, bagel sandwich, oatmeal, and delicious looking pastries. I had a fantastic 3 egg omelet with green chili, bacon, cheese, mushrooms, peppers, and spicy salsa - so good, I had it two mornings in a row!
Our favorite place to hang out at Angel Fire Resort for food and drinks was Sunset Grill just out side the Lodge and overlooking the ski lift and ski mountain - what a great view from the patio and it doesn't get much better than a frozen margarita sitting on the deck enjoying the sunset. They also serve some good burgers and cheesesteaks for lunch plus several other items and what looks like some very tasty items for dinner.
The Conference Center at the Lodge at Angel Fire Resort has 16,000 square feet of flexible meeting space in nine different conference rooms that is excellent for corporate events, reunions, or memorable weddings.
Angel Fire Ski Area
Summer Activities at Angel Fire Ski Area
We didn't come to Angel Fire Resort to stay in our room and watch TV or sleep, we were here to enjoy all of the outdoor activities at the Resort as well as nearby.
Angel Fire Zip line Adventure Tour
On our first morning at Angel Fire Resort we jumped on the Chile Express for a ride to the top to where we started a fantastic zip line tour. After getting off the Chile Express we walked 75 yards to the zip line starting point, met our guides, got fitted for a harness and helmet, and took a short walk to the first zip line. The Angel Fire Zip line Adventure Tour takes about two hours and has 6 zip lines varying from 120' long to the fast and adrenaline pumping 1600' dual zip line where you'll soar from one mountain peak to another up to 45 miles an hour 270' above the forest floor. Wow, what a fun adventure - here is a link to read more about our zip line tour.
Angel Fire Bike Park
When we first pulled into Angel Fire Resort, I could hear and feel the excitement of our mountain bikes on the back of our Jeep. Up until that day the only time they had gotten off the bike rack was to go bar and restaurant hopping in Red River, which they seemed to enjoy after being wind beaten, rained on, and covered with dirt and dust on the drive from Dallas to Red River. From talking to some other bikes in Red River they had heard that Angel Fire Bike Park is world renowned and features challenging terrain for world class downhill, cross country, and all-mountain-styles of bike riding. The park is loaded with sweet drops, wicked lava fields, easy cruisers, awesome jumps, bridges, valleys, trees, tight twisting single track, long fast downhills, and more. There is something for all ages and abilities and the trails range from easy to extremely difficult and our bikes couldn't wait to start riding some of them.
I calmed the bikes down and told them we would ride the trails shortly after our zip line tour. As we rode up the chair lift for our zip line tour and saw some of the jumps, bumps, and tight twisting rocky tree lined trails, I started to get a little nervous about trying to ride them. Plus all the bikers (all of which looked young and very fit) coming down the mountain had helmets, neck braces, fancy outfits, shin guards, and more and were covered with dirt - all I had was a baseball cap, shorts, and sandals. And when I checked it out I quickly found out that they didn't have enough band-aids to cover what I'm sure would be lots of cuts and bruises from endos, crashing into trees, failed attempts at jumps, and poor course navigation. But I didn't want to let the bikes down and promised myself we would ride the trails after the zip line tour. There was a sigh of relief when just after our last zip, we were told that the lift was closing because of lightning in the area and we would have to take a bus back down the mountain. I dreaded letting the bikes know they couldn't go and when I did tell them there seemed to be tears in the handlebars and I could hear the air slowly go out of their tires - what a disappointment for them! I was hoping that they might convince some passerby to take them off the rack and up the mountain while we were doing something else like drinking Margaritas.
When I was writing this article I read that last year Angel Fire Resort opened 50 miles of new and enhanced trails and had reworked and expanded several trails for beginners or old folks like me - next year we'll do it! For bikers, the valley surrounding the village of Angle Fire is filled with free-access mountain bike and multi-purpose trails ranging from .2 miles to 1.7 miles. For the truly bold riders you should save a day to ride the epic 23 mile South Boundary Trail that starts a few miles south of Angel Fire and winds through some of the most rugged and scenic terrain within the Carson National Forest which has a little bit of something for everyone from fast single tracks winding through quiet groves to killer climbs through sub-alpine forests. If you're into biking in and around Angel Fire, you should also check out Rough Riders 200's website for several biking events in the area.
Chile Express Chair Lift
Out the back door of the Lodge is the Chile Express Chairlift and during the summer the Chile Express Chairlift is North America's longest quad chairlift and its a fun two and a half mile ride from 8,000' to the top of the mountain peak (10,600') in 12 minutes. At the top of the mountain you can hike for miles, bike back down the mountain on any of several trails, play 18 holes of challenging mountain disc golf, take a zip line tour, or just sit on the deck of the Summit Haus restaurant and enjoy the beautiful scenery and a cold beer. If you don't want to hike back down the mountain, you can jump back on the Chairlift for a very scenic ride back to the Lodge.
At the base of the Chile Express is a Euro Bungee Jump, a climbing wall, and a bounce house for the younger kids. After a day of hiking or biking a long soak in the hot tub at the Lodge is a perfect way to end the day. Across from the Chile Express is Sunset Grill where you can sit on the patio, have a drink, a bite to eat, and watch the bikers zoom down the mountain.
Winter Activities At Angel Fire Ski Area
The Lodge at Angel Fire Resort is perfect for winter enthusiasts! Angel Fire Ski Area averages 210 inches of snow and has 560 plus acres with 7 chair lifts, 76 trails for beginner (26%) to intermediate (50%) to advanced (24%) skiers, two freestyle parks and over 50 acres of gladed skiing, tubing, and even nighttime skiing. Or you can try cross country skiing through the pines of the Moreno Valley - there are over 17 miles of groomed trails for Nordic skiing. You can also enjoy riding up the 900' SunKid Wondercarpet for an exciting tube ride down the 4 lane tubing hill over rollers and banks on the biggest and best tubing park in the Southern Rockies.
During the winter, Village Haus is located at the base of the ski area and offers pizza, burgers, and Mexican food plus it has a full bar. Mountain Haus is at the base of the Southwest Flyer Chairlift and during the winter it has burgers, dogs, burritos, a snack bar, and more. During the winter and summer, Summit Haus at the top of the Chile Express has burgers, dogs, burritos, a snack bar, and a deck with a million dollar view.
Angel Fire Country Club
As a guest of the Lodge at Angel Fire Resort you have access to the Angel Fire Resort Country Club which has inspiring architecture and breathtaking views of Wheeler Peak and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains plus a 27,000 square foot building with a well appointed grand hall, intimate private dining rooms, an indoor swimming pool, state of the art fitness center, fine dining, an upscale bar with an outstanding patio with breathtaking views overlooking the valley, a pro shop, and and 18 hole championship golf course. For tennis enthusiasts there are six hard courts. There may be a fee for use of some of the amenities at Angel Fire Country Club.
At Angel Fire Country Club I was hoping to take my golf game to a higher lever - in fact, it went up to 8700' in elevation. At that elevation one would think I should be able to drive the ball much higher and farther because of the high altitude - not the case with me. I proved that I can dribble the ball down the fairway at any elevation. The golf course has two unique and very different nines each with it's own personality. The front nine is home to tight tree lined fairways that wind through two unspoiled canyons of aspen and spruce and it has elevation changes of up to 200 vertical feet (the 250 yard par 3 #6 is a real beauty). The back nine is open mountain meadow golf with rolling fairways, a meandering creek that presents several challenges, and several risk reward opportunities. Read our review of Angel Fire Golf Course to learn more about this fantastic golf course.
Elements Restaurant at the Country Club provides fine dining, lighter fare around a crackling fire in the adjoining bar and lounge, and stunning views of Wheeler peak and jaw dropping sunsets on the patio. We enjoyed a drink on the patio and the beautiful view and then moved into the Elements dining room for an excellent meal with outstanding service. We started with a delicious caesar salad and seared Ahi Tuna appetizer that was outstanding. Shortly after finishing that course we were served a perfectly cooked Organic Colorado Lamb Loin with a garlic herb crust with Dijon Mustard and Vegetables Provencal and marinated and grilled white Mexican Giant Prawns served with a Lobster Ravioli, Lobster Bisque and Truffled Asparagus - WOW! Our tummies were full but when we saw the Old Fashioned Sundae (chocolate and vanilla bean ice cream with carmel, chocolate and strawberry sauce plus whipped cream and nuts) pass by our table, we couldn't resist ordering one to share - again WOW! We waddled to our room and jumped into the soft fluffy bed and had sweet dreams of plums and pudding!
Other Fun Things To See & Do in Angel Fire
During our stay at Angel Fire Resort, we took a fun ATV tour with Angel Fire Excursions. We rode ATV's up some bone jarring trails with jaw dropping scenery. You can learn more about this thrilling adventure by clicking on ATV Tour in Angel Fire. During the winter Angel Fire Excursions offers guided snowmobile trips on the scenic trails of the Carson National Forest.
When we were in Red River we went white water rafting just south of Taos (about an hour from Angel Fire Resort) on a section of the Rio Grande River called the "Race Course". The trip was scenic and exciting as we rafted down 12 different sets of Class 2 and Class 3 rapids. Here is a link to our article on Rafting The Rio Grande
Some of the other things that you can see and do during a summer vacation at Angel Fire Resort include:
- Music from the Angel Fire Chamber Music Series was celebrating it's 30th anniversary during our visit by bringing extraordinary chamber music to the beautiful mountain communities of Angel Fire, Taos, Raton, and Las Vegas. We just missed the Angel Fire scheduled music but heard it was outstanding.
Monte Verde Lake is a couple miles from Angel Fire Resort and is a pretty alpine lake with paddle and row boat rentals, a fishing pier, some big fish, and a picnic area with picnic tables, horseshoes, and BBQ grills.
Year round Angel Fire is host for a diverse range of events and festivals some of which include: Polar Bear Plunge, Mardi Gras Parade, bike festivals and races, and several music festivals.
New Mexico is known as the "Land of Enchantment" and it doesn't get much better than the 83 mile loop through the mountains, valleys, mesas, and national forests that are part of the well known Enchanted Circle. Angel Fire Resort is a perfect place for several day trips in the Enchanted Circle to enjoy scenic views, fishing, rafting, festivals, shopping, lively bars, and more. Drive and explore the cities in the Enchanted Circle - Taos and Taos Ski Valley, Eagle Nest, Red River, Cimarron, Red River, Costilla, Questa, and Raton.
Angel Fire is not loaded with restaurants or lively night spots (mainly because at the end of a fun day of zip lining, golfing, biking, hiking, or paddling you'll be ready for a bite to eat, a cold drink, a soak in the hot tub, and bed!) but there are a few. Some of the places we enjoyed included:
- at Sunset Grill we loved the Margaritas and enjoyed a very good Philly and green chili cheeseburger on the deck overlooking the mountains, the Chile Express ski lift, and mountain bikers as they came zooming down the mountain
- the pizza at Angel Fire Pizza was very tasty
- at Zebs we had a chicken fried steak and a smothered chopped beef steak which were just ok
- Hatcha's has a great patio and some pretty good New Mexican food
- the breakfast and pastries at the Coffee House at the Angel Fire Lodge was excellent
Bottom line - Angel Fire Resort is perfect for a winter or summer vacation and we can't wait to bring the family back for some skiing this winter!