Pros: 30 min drive from the city, decent prices.
Cons: Somewhat lacking in terrain variety
Sandia has everything that a day skier would need - a small ski shop, a full service rental shop, full service ski school, and an ok indoor/outdoor cafeteria and grill.
- The rental shop is full service, and has all the gear a skier or snowboarder would need for the day. Most of the gear is in good condition, though some of their boots are on the older side. The rental process is streamlined quite well, with large crowds being handled fairly quickly. The staff are also very friendly, and are generally willing to make adjustments to users gear, even if it isn't a rental.
- The ski school has a decent number of instructors, and tends to cater to children's classes (though there are adult services). There is a dedicated training area, though classes will migrate up the mountain later in the day (this can lead to crowding on the smaller mountain, with school kids fighting for space with regular skiers).
- The cafe is nothing to write home about, but isn't horrible either. They serve hot soups, and have a short-order grill where you can get things like hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, and fries. They also serve chips and drinks, both bottled and fountain (though they are badly overpriced). The adjacent ski shop is small, but does provide necessities that a skier may need if they forgot (gloves, goggles, etc).
- The ski area itself isn't very large, and ir more suited to the beginners and intermediates, rather than experts looking for a challenge (though there are a couple of decent black paths). On the right side of the base area, there is an excellent beginner area, serviced by a modern two person lift (bench style seat). The beginner slope is a nice large wide path, with some smaller wooded paths on the left. This slope is an excellent area not only for people learning, but for people wanting to warm up or test new gear, since there is enough room to go faster without endangering others.
- The top of the mountain (from the base) is served by two much older lifts (bucket style seats). They can very unnerving for those afraid of heights (especially Lift 3, which has almost no armrests on the side, which makes the rider hold on to the pole in the center). There is also a mid-mountain lift, which is as old as the other full lifts, and can be an daunting ride.
- The slopes themselves are generally well serviced, with almost all of the terrain able to be groomed/maintained. Again, most of the terrain is beginner and intermediate, but is adequate for a day trip if you are not looking for an extreme challenge. There are a few decent diamond slopes, but probably will disapoint the die-hards looking for a big thrill. For beginners however, the mountain is excellent. New skiers will be presented with plenty of nice learning terrain, and families can traverse most of the mountain without having to leave the kids behind.
- The ski area's biggest problem however, is not the facilities, but the weather. The area itself is high enough to get snow any time moisture moves in, but moisture isn't always a promise in this area like it is further up north. The last few seasons have been lean for the mountain, leading to only the beginner areas open for most of the season. When the area does get snow though, it is more than adequate, and can be great to ski on. Because it is not a resort, it is also a great place to go during the week; the mountain is mostly empty, and you can really let loose on the open terrain.
- There is a small terrain park, and it too caters more to the beginner and intermediate skiers. Again, a great place to learn and practice, but not really to show off any skills. The park is also very dependent on weather, and may not open despite the rest of the mountain being open.
Overall, this is a nice, family friendly ski area, which will serve day users great. There is no hotel near by, but given the selection of other, larger resorts in the state, this is no surprise. This area caters to the locals, and locals love having it around. You won't fly to Abq to go here, but you would be crazy not to come if you already live in the area.