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Sipapu Master Development Plan

summer view of Sipapu

an incredible history…
a bright future

For 70 years, Sipapu has provided family-friendly, family fun in the heart of Northern New Mexico while serving as a collaborative community partner. Still a small family ski area, we have grown to provide hundreds of jobs and tremendous economic benefits to areas around Vadito, Penasco, Mora, and beyond. We live in this community, we love this community, and we strive to serve this community. Sipapu is the fastest-growing resort in the Southwest, with peak days increasing nearly 100% over the past decade, and a 21.3% average growth rate per year over the past 20 years.

2012 Original Plan

In 2012, we submitted a Master Development Plan (MDP) to the Forest Service outlining a long-term plan for improvements at Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort. Major components of this plan include expansion of the special use permit (SUP) boundary, terrain and lift development in the expansion area, as well as an additional guest service facility, and a number of improvements within the existing SUP boundary. The MDP was accepted by the Forest Service in the Spring of 2012.

Accepted 2012 MDP

  • Increasing the special use permit area by 924 acres
  • 52 new trails totaling an additional 199 skiable acres
  • 11 gladed runs
  • 3 new lifts
  • Snowmaking infrastructure
  • 1 On-Mountain Restaurant and Guest Services Facility
  • Additional Parking
  • Multi-Season and Summer Activities: Additional disc golf course, mountain biking, climbing wall, bungee trampoline, summer tubing operation, zip line tours, and special evening stargazing

Completed Improvements

  • Installations of Jackalope Lift (formerly Pedro Park Lift)
  • Replacement of Lift #2
  • Trails construction and improvements on Howdy, Beep Beep, East Side, and Lower Gamble
  • Enhancement of snowmaking infrastructure on Howdy and Upper Loose Caboose

2019 Amended Plan

In 2019, Sipapu submitted amendments to the MDP to the Forest Service, which were accepted. In the ensuing years, we have presented the amended plan to local stakeholders and to the larger community. As a result of public feedback from nearly 40 meetings over the past five years, we have created a revised scope of work. If the revised scope of work is accepted by the Forest Service, we will begin the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process of analysis. Once this process is complete on the proposed scope of work, the Forest Service will determine if the project can be approved.

results from Community Feedback

Things We Heard From You

  • Significant excitement about expanded terrain
  • Concerns about bottom terminal near Las Mochas
  • Concerns about Westside lift
  • Wildlife, environment, inventory roadless area and water concerns
  • Traffic, pedestrian, and EMS concerns
  • Parking concerns
  • Scope of project seems too big

Original 2019 Amended MDP Proposed Scope of Work

Revised Scope of Work 2021

Changes to the Scope of the Project

  • Removed a chairlift (removed new chair B)
  • Reduced major lift capacity by almost 50%
  • Reduced the Special Use Permit area by 190 acres
  • Reduced skiable acreage by 21 acres

Changes Addressing Water Concerns

  • Modified the plan to reduce the reallocation of current water rights
  • Proposed lower elevation terrain has been removed
  • Westside chair removal (removed new chair B)
  • Expansion terrain has preferable aspect compared to existing terrain
  • Higher elevation compared to existing terrain

Changes to Infrastructure

  • Removal of Westside Lift, Chair B
  • Reduction of parking 
  • Reduction of the Expansion Footprint
  • Reduction of Skiable Acres

Changes Addressing Traffic Concerns

  • Parking Lot E at the Canyon Tio Mies Trail Head has been removed from the revised scope of work as a result of the reduction in lift capacity and skiable acreage

Outreach Addressing Traffic Concerns

  • Work with NMDOT to review traffic impacts to Highway 518
  • Sipapu will work with NMDOT to address crossing Highway 518 and public safety
  • Continue to evaluate Speed Limit changes

Water Community Outreach Efforts

  • Collaboration with local stakeholders to monitor water quality
  • Development of water monitoring group in Spring 2022
  • Conduct quarterly water sampling of the Rio Pueblo above and below Sipapu 
  • Review quarterly water sampling results with the committee 
  • Involve water experts as needed 
  • Share results with the community

Outreach Addressing Emergency Response

  • Meet with local EMS to collaborate
  • Meet with local Sheriff to collaborate
  • Consider contracting an on-site ambulance during Holidays and Weekends
  • Continue hiring on-site EMT’s for ski season
  • Engage stakeholders to collaborate summer 2022

We want to hear from you. Click the link below to provide feedback on our changes.

Frequently Asked questions

How will this benefit the local communities?

Based on a preliminary analysis, with full implementation of the terrain and lift expansion, Sipapu expects an increase of over 80,000 visits per winter and an increase of 5,000 summer visits. This is estimated to generate approximately $31 million to the local economy. This calculation assumes direct and indirect economic spending of $350 per person per day, including $275 per person per day for lodging, food and beverage, retail, gas, transportation, other expenditures spent away from the ski resort. If anticipated annual winter daily skier visits an additional 80,000, and assuming $350 of spending, this accounts for $28 million. Summer activities at the resort are projected to generate an additional $1 million per year with an economic impact to the community of $3 million per summer.

With the implementation of the project, Sipapu anticipates hiring additional workers for administration and operations of the resort. Sipapu projects to hire 100 additional full-time season workers and 20 additional full-time year-round workers. This could generate over $2.25 million in new payroll dollars to the local economy. Based on past experience with resort operations, the full-time season workers projection could be closer to 200. Employees would be needed to operate the restaurant, staff lifts and activities, provide first aid, maintain resort operations and general administration. The economic impacts would be fully analyzed in a future NEPA process.

How Do I Share Feedback on the Plan?

To share your thoughts, please fill out this form, or contact us at the following:

Call:  575-202-4089
Email: [email protected]
Snail Mail:
Attn: John Paul Bradley
Master Development Plan
H.C. 65 Rt. Box 29
Vadito, NM 87579

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