It’s late in the calendar year, and everywhere you go, people are finalizing their plans for the winter. There is a pretty good chance you may just find yourself in Taos County near the Sangre de Cristo Mountains about to enjoy the wonder that is Red River, New Mexico. While winter in the Rockies may not appeal to everyone, it may be the excitement that you and your family have been in sore demand for, but the question is decidedly resting on what exactly the winter months bring to Red River besides snow.
Look no further than these seven must-see experiences. Sure, some of them could be found in your general Small Town, USA, but can they deliver Wheeler Peak and Carson National Forest? We didn’t think so!
1. Christmas Eve Fireworks & Torchlight Parade 12/24 – These parades go back far enough that it is difficult to pin down a starting date. There is lore that says that originally, pipe insulation was wrapped around an old ski pole. It was then doused in fuel, the light emanating from the flames served as a light source. Nowadays, the light comes from flares & a major fireworks show. Regardless of the mystery of its start, the holiday festivities remain a major part of Red River’s charm.
2. Christmas Luminaria Tour 12/25 – It’s an area Christmas tradition to place luminarias (paper bags with sand and a lighted candle inside) around homes and along the streets of the town. There is even a chance to ski by this soft light, making for a gorgeous holiday spectacle!
3. New Year’s Eve 12/31 – Here’s to New Year’s Eve (NYE) celebrations for everyone beginning with the annual Torchlight Parade and Fireworks Display. Kids can enjoy pizza and games at the Red River Community House for a NYE party. The ball drops at midnight Eastern time (10 p.m. in New Mexico) for them, letting the little ones still get a chance to ring in the new year!
4. Red River Skijoring – Skijoring means “ski driving” and is usually as being pulled on skis by an animal (i.e., horse) motorized vehicle. Skijoring has a centuries-old history in Europe, but its start in Red River came when WWII veterans tied ropes to horses to tow skiers (no ski lifts yet). Thus, a competitive sport was born. Visitors have the chance to join the fun as a competitor or spectator.
5. Winter Carnival – The Winter Carnival was thankfully brought back to the area’s festivities in order to revive all of the winter fun synonymous with past carnivals. You will be greeted with snowmobile races, snowman building, games and events that appeal to the whole family, live music, shopping, torchlight parades, fireworks, and so much more. One featured event is the Winter Carnival Snowmobile Hill Climb.
6. Mardi Gras in the Mountains – Why deal with the chaos and overgrown insanity you come to expect for Mardi Gras elsewhere when you could enjoy yourself in a more quaint celebration? Rest assured, though, that Red River likes to have a good time. Complete with costume balls, traditional down-home gourmet food, costume contests, Cajun cook-off, and even a downhill gator race, Red River is the place to be!
7. Just Desserts Eat & Ski – This is quite possibly one of the most popular events of the winter in the Red River area. The idea is fairly straightforward: homemade desserts are put out on a five kilometer course and skiers ski out to the different sites and indulge in delicious treats. Popular course offerings include an eighteen layer Chocolate Cinnamon Torte, as well as Triple Chocolate Kahlua Espresso Cake.
Red River, New Mexico is quite the jewel of the American Southwest for not only its beautiful landscapes and cozy setting in the Rockies (over 8,500 ft elevation), but the town also offers some of the best “bang-for-your-buck” ways to spend your winter having a blast.