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New Mexico & SW Colorado Road Trip

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New Mexico & SW Colorado Road Trip

Recommend 14-21 Days

Location: Purgatory/Silverton/Taos/Telluride/Wolf Creek , Colorado , New Mexico , USA
This has been one of our favourite road trips in the USA due to the diversity of culture, history & natural beauty of the landscapes encountered between New Mexico & SW Colorado. The skiing is some of the best in the USA and the ski towns also up there as the best. Take this road trip and you won't be disappointed.

New Mexico & SW Colorado Road Trip

New Mexico is not often the first place people think of when they think skiing or snowboarding in the USA however they have some nice small to medium ski areas such as Angel Fire Resort, Red River Ski Area, Ski Apache and Ski Santa Fe and the big kahuna; Taos Ski Valley.

New Mexico doesn't receive the abundant snow falls that Colorado is renowned for however due to its dessert location and high-elevation the snow quality can be exceptional. But it is not all about the skiing & snow boarding; travelling around New Mexico is a highlight with its rich history, diverse culture, dessert landscapes and unique architecture.

Conversely Colorado is famous for its incredible world-class ski resorts and abundant falls of quality snow. In south-west Colorado you will also find some great ski towns, ski resorts that aren't as busy as those around Denver, some of the highest snowfalls in Colorado (and the USA for that matter), and spectacular mountain scenery.

This is one of the best road-trips we have ever done in the USA and look forward to doing it again in the future.

Check out the map & itinerary for this awesome trip here >>

Getting There

You can start this trip anywhere you please as it is your self-guided adventure after all!

If you are planning on visiting ski areas in New Mexico, Albuquerue is the best option with the most domestic flight options and no problems with inclement weather.

Check out flight options here >>

Getting Around

All of the roads on this trip are major or minor highways so they are well patrolled and cleared of snow regularly.

There are a couple of mountain passes so we would recommend you rent an SUV AWD or 4WD with winter tread tyres as a minimum.

Check out car rental options here >>

Where To Stay


Many of the ski areas on this trip (apart from Silverton and Wolf Creek) have on-mountain lodging. However this always comes at a premium and can be more difficult to check in to due to it being in the snow so if you are only going to visit for a day or two it may not be worth the hassle and the extra cost.

View on-mountain lodging options here...

 Taos  Purgatory   Telluride

Ski Towns

This trip visits some of the best western towns in the USA such as Taos, Durango, Pagosa, Silverton & Telluride. Winter is mostly off-season for these towns so competition is generally ripe with great value lodgings to be found. Telluride is the exception here which it is a true ski town where the lifts go directly out of the town and the runs come back in to town.

If you are only hitting an area for a night or 2, staying in a nearby town is a simpler and more economical option.

View down-town lodging here...

 Downtown Taos  Durango  Pagosa Springs  South Fork  Silverton  Telluride

Lift Tickets

Telluride is covered by the EPIC pass (7-days) and Taos is covered by the IKON Pass (7-days) & the Mountain Collective (2-Days); so if you have either of these passes you will be able to use them at the respective resorts.

The other independent ski areas don't belong to any discount passes as far as we are aware however their day-tickets are generally substantially cheaper than the major resorts on the passes above.

Planning Your Trip

My Powderhounds

To help you plan and manage your trip, we at Powderhounds.com have created a helpful tool called "My Powderhounds" whereby you can add anything of interest on our website to a "trip list".

For example you might create a trip list called "New Mexico & SW Colorado 2024". Or "Bucket List Tour in Colorado".

In that list you can add items like resorts you want to visit, details within those resorts like activities pages, accommodation listing pages and / or specific properties you are interested in, heli skiing, cat skiing and other tours you might be interested in....pretty much anything on the website.

You can also invite family and friends to view & comment on lists you choose to share so everyone can have their say and you can eliminate items like resorts that don't make the short-list.

And once you are on the road you can always refer back to your list to book tours & lodging.

Get started adding items & sharing here >>

Suggested Itinerary

The following suggestions are based on our experience from travelling in these areas and may assist as a guide in your planning. Expand the map to full screen using the square icon in the top right of the map and show details of the highlights on the map by clicking the icon to the top left of the map.

Use the map to filter resorts by lift pass type e.g. EPIC, IKON or Independent if you have a preference for ski areas with a specific pass.

New Mexico & SW Colorado

  • Fly in to Albuquerque and rent a car from there.
  • Drive to the historic town of Taos (drop in to Santa Fe for some sightseeing & tourist purchases along the way) & base yourself there for a few nights
  • Allow at least 2 - 3 days to ski Taos Ski Resort & see some of the great sights around Taos before journeying onwards
  • Next ski destination is Wolf Creek where they receive a whopping 512 inches / 13 meters of snowfall annually. This is a Powderhounds favourite!
  • You can either base yourself at South Fork (where you have more certain access to the ski area if it dumps) or Pagosa Springs (which is a far nicer place to stay but of the pass closes due to snow you may miss a powder day). Both places are about 2.5 hours drive from Taos. See more information about the pros & cons of each place here >>
  • After a couple of days at Wolf Creek, after skiing drive via Pagosa Springs (drop into the hot springs at Pagosa if you haven't already) to the town of Durango (approx 1.5 hours drive) where you could just stay the night or base yourself for 2-3 nights and travel from there each day. This is a lovely university town with lots of restaurants and bars. See Durango town lodging options here>>
  • If you are up for some sightseeing you can't miss the Mesa Verde National Park which is an archaeological attraction where American Indians settled around 600 A.D. You will need most of a day here. After you day here, either head back to Durango for some great food & drinks or drive up to Purgatory Mountain Resort (about 40 mins drive) and base yourself on/near the mountain. See on-mountain lodging options here>>
  • You can easily spend a couple of days exploring Purgatory and if your budget allows for it there is a cat skiing operation located at the ski area as well.
  • Next destination is Silverton Mountain (Rated #1 best ski resort in USA for Powderhounds) which is approx. 35 mins drive. This is not a ski resort but rather lift-access backcountry. So if a bit of hiking to earn-your-turns is not your thing you might want to skip this place. But for those who are happy to do a little bit of work you will ski some of the steepest and potentially deepest terrain / snow you have ever seen. If you haven't been here before it is well worth hiring one of the guides at Silverton Mountain. There is no on-mountain lodging so the best place to base yourself is in the historic town of Silverton.
  • Silverton Mountain also run a heli skiing operation where you can do just a single run or a full-day of heliskiing.
  • From Silverton head to Telluride Ski Resort (Rated #1 best overall ski resort in the USA by Powderhounds). As the "crow flies" these 2 mountains are very close but it requires a bit of a drive (appox. 1hr 20 mins) over a spectacular mountain pass. If you have the time be sure to stop at Ouray and check out the incredible ice climbing in the canyons there. There are also some nice hot springs if you feel like a relaxing soak.
  • At Telluride you have the option of staying down-town or up on the mountain at the mountain village. See the pros & cons of each place here>>
  • If you have an EPIC Pass you can ski for up to 7-days at Telluride.
  • From Telluride you can either keep heading north for example to Crested Butte where you have unlimited days on an EPIC Pass (approx 3 hours drive) or you could exit flying out of the local Telluride airport to Denver.