Skiing in New Mexico

Grazing Deer in New Mexico December 2010

In Spanish Cimarron means wild or unruly and this town in northeastern New Mexico that I’ve just returned from certainly lives up to its name. The legendary St. James Hotel here was purchased by Oklahoma businessman Robert Funk a few years back and has been updated while keeping the historical quality of the building intact. Since the hotel opened its doors in 1872 it has seen its share of celebrities and shady characters including Buffalo Bill Cody, Annie Oakley, Jesse James, Bob Ford and Davy Crockett II. It may be the only hotel in the world that gives guests a list of people who have been shot on the premises.

In addition to these personalities several writers have stayed at the St. James. Former Governor Wallace wrote part of his novel Ben Hur at the hotel and Zane Grey stayed in Room 22 while he was working on “Fighting Caravans”.

Today much of the period furniture still remains and many people believe that the spirits of past guests roam the hallways. Sightings of unknown women and children are common and many have been photographed by both professionals and hotel guests.  Many stories also surround rearranged silverware on the tables and the strange smell of rose petals, adding to the paranormal sightings in the hotel. Bob Funk and the staff at this colorful stopping place aren’t sure who might be haunting the hotel but they respect the rights of the ghosts to live on at the St. James. With excellent food, reasonable accommodations and unbeatable scenery this is a place you don’t want to miss on next trip to this part of New Mexico.

Just 24 miles up the road is Angel Fire, New Mexico. I knew the ride up to 10,677 feet would be breath taking and I was right. With skiing and snow boarding in the winter and golf, hiking and biking in the summer this is a great family destination at any time.

Right now you can’t beat the state’s only night time skiing under starry mountain skies. Even though I’ve passed through this part of the country many times over the past few ears it always grabs me.

Arriving on the first day of winter, just four days after the official opening of the ski area, has become something of a tradition for my daughter and me during the last few years and I’ll tell you why.  From opening day to Christmas you will find very few lift lines and may even find yourself coming down a slope alone.  Discounts on lift tickets and ski rentals are plentiful during this period and lodging is also less expensive. As soon as Christmas comes, the slopes are packed and it is a totally different story. But regardless of when you’re there the folks at Angel Fire keep things running smoothly and you’re guaranteed to have a great time. Although they haven’t had as much snow as usual up there they’ve been making snow and had plenty of trails open, making this another year to remember. Check out their website at

This year I wanted to stay in the nearby village of Eagle Nest with its picture perfect lake. I had heard that a former Oklahoma School Superintendant had purchased the Gold Pan Motel there and I was curious to see what he was doing with the place. The Gold Pan is a throw back to a by-gone era in travel like someplace you might find along Route 66 and I love checking these places out. To my delight the motel was just as I had hoped, clean and comfortable with reasonable rates and a friendly staff. I’m sure it will be around for many more years to come.

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