Winter play in Angel Fire

There's plenty of snowy fun for everyone in New Mexico's Moreno Valley
Lynn Cline

Skip the lift lines and extreme-skiers' scene at Taos, and head instead a half-hour east to Angel Fire, in the Wheeler Peak mountain range, where you'll find a family-friendly winter wonderland. Once a stomping ground for the Ute Indians who, according to legend, dubbed it "fire of the gods" in honor of the brilliant sunsets against Agua Fria Peak, the tiny resort town is fast becoming a hot spot for vacationers of all ages. Soar through the snow by ski, sled, or inner tube; amble along by horseback; then poke around the shops and galleries before hunkering down for a well-deserved dinner.

GETTING THERE

From Albuquerque, take I-25 north to Santa Fe and then U.S. 285/84 north to Taos. Turn right on Kit Carson Rd., which turns into U.S. 64. Take U.S. 64 to State 434; turn right and drive into Angel Fire.

PLAY

Angel Fire Resort. A paradise of a playground, with enough to-dos to keep the whole family happy. Let the kids bomb down by inner tube while you cruise the powder on 70-plus trails, accessed by two high-speed quads. INFO: $52, $40 ages 7-12, ages 6 and under free; www.angelfireresort.com or 800/633-7463.

Roadrunner Tours. For a taste of the old Wild West, mosey on horseback through snow-covered meadows to an alfresco winter picnic lunch at 9,000 feet. If you prefer more cushion, take a horse-drawn sleigh through the Kit Carson Wilderness. INFO: From $35; 27501 U.S. 64 (outside of Angel Fire near U.S. 64 at State 434); 505/377-6416.

SHOP

Angel Fire ArtSpace. No surprise this area's natural beauty inspires creativity: paintings, pottery, sculpture, stained glass, and jewelry, all made by local artists. INFO: Wed-Mon; 12 Crestview Dr. (in the Cove Arts Center); 505/377-6273.

EAT

Avalon's. Quiches and omelets for breakfast; grilled sandwiches and homemade soups for lunch. INFO: $; 3465 Mountain View Blvd.; 505/377-2422.

The Roasted Clove. End the ski day with ― what else ― a cold microbrew, paired with Colorado elk or a shrimp-and-corncake short stack. INFO: $$$; Wed-Mon; 48 N. Angel Fire Rd.; 505/377-0636.

STAY OVERNIGHT

The five-bedroom country-style Wildflower Bed & Breakfast (from $85; 505/ 377-6869) is especially cozy, as is its hilltop guesthouse with panoramic mountain vistas and satisfying homemade breakfasts. If you prefer slopeside to B&Bs, try the Angel Fire Resort (from $89; 800/633-7463), where you can ski right from your room to a chairlift, which whisks you 2,000 feet up the peak. Return to a massage and a dip in the heated indoor pool.