Justin Schatz is The Paper's daily news reporter. He has reported on New Mexico for KRQE News, Searchlight NM and the Santa Fe Reporter.

New Mexico ski resorts are preparing for another warm and dry winter. Ski resorts around the country have heavily invested in snowmaking equipment to compensate for less-than-prolific winters. The Southwest, in particular, has been hit hard by shifting weather patterns and increasingly warm winters.

With resorts forced to expand snowmaking operations, the cost of tickets has naturally risen. In Colorado, home to some of the nation’s most lauded ski resorts, the average price of tickets of risen considerably. At Vail Ski Resort, which boasts some of the finest terrain in the Rocky Mountains, a day ticket during a weekday goes for $167. And that’s not even during a peak period, when tickets significantly increase. Luckily for New Mexico skiers and snowboarders, our ski resorts have managed to avoid absurd prices for a day ticket. Taos, which is often heralded as the state’s premier ski resort, has a day ticket listed at $90, which jumps to $135 on the weekends. 

With a shortage of labor, drier winters and the rising cost of operation, ski resorts across New Mexico have invested in preserving the local spirit of the resorts and keeping them accessible. In an interview with The Paper. Clair Mylott of Feed Media, which handles communications for Taos Ski Valley, spoke about the resort’s ongoing efforts to stay open during dry seasons and some of the programs they offer to increase accessibility for a sport that has increasingly priced out many former customers. “To combat irregularities, now we have the technology to make early season conditions much more predictable through high-efficiency snowmaking. Over the past several years, Taos has invested heavily in snowmaking, and this year we have a new state-of-the-art snowcat, 13 new high-efficiency snow guns and enhanced snowmaking pipes,” Mylott said. 

New Mexico ski resorts have also been aware that, for many, a day on the slopes is financially out of reach for many New Mexico families. Taos Ski Valley, as well as others throughout the state, have teamed up with a host of organizations to make skiing more accessible. Through a variety of grant programs, in collaboration with Working on Wellness and the Share Winter Foundation, youth in grades 4 through 12 from the Taos Pueblo community will have the opportunity to ski for five days, including lift tickets, clothing and equipment rentals and full or half-day lessons. This offering is named in memoriam of Charles N. Romero, a member of the Taos Pueblo community and longtime Taos Ski Valley employee,” Mylott added.

A recent study estimated that winter seasons in the U.S. will shrink by as much as 50 percent by 2050 and 80 percent by 2090. Even in New Mexico, day tickets for many resorts have risen considerably due to environmental pressure and operational costs. For now, tickets and programs offered by the state’s resorts still allow many to enjoy the slopes. But with another less-than-stellar winter predicted for the region, only time will tell if ski tickets in our state will stay relatively affordable.