You may want to rent skis or snowboards in town the afternoon before the day you hit the slopes so you don't waste any time waiting during the morning rush.

Alpine Sports. This centrally located shop rents downhill and cross-country skis and snowboards. 121 Sandoval St., The Plaza, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 87501. 505/983–5155;

Cottam's Ski Shop. Stop by this long-established outfitter with additional locations in Taos and Angel Fire on your way up to the ski valley; they rent all manner of winter gear, including skis, snowboards, sleds, and snowshoes. 740 Hyde Park Rd., East Side and Canyon Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 87501. 505/982–0495;

Ski Santa Fe. Open roughly from late November through early April, this is a fine, somewhat underrated, midsize operation that receives an average of 225 inches of snow a year and plenty of sunshine. It's one of America's highest ski areas—the 12,000-foot summit has a variety of terrain and seems bigger than its 1,725 feet of vertical rise and 660 acres. There are some great powder stashes, tough bump runs, and many wide, gentle cruising runs. The 83 trails are ranked 20% beginner, 40% intermediate, and 40% advanced; there are seven lifts. Snowboarders are welcome, and there's the Norquist Trail for cross-country skiers. Chipmunk Corner provides day care and supervised kids' skiing. The ski school is excellent. Rentals, a ski shop, and a good restaurant round out the amenities at bright and modern La Casa Lodge base-camp, and Totemoff's Bar and Grill is a welcome mid-mountain option. The area is fun for hiking during the summer months, and the Super Chief Quad Chair operates from late August through mid-October, catering to hikers and shutterbugs eager to view the high-mountain fall foliage, including acres of shimmering golden aspens. End of NM 475, 18 miles northeast of Downtown, East Side and Canyon Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 87501. 505/982–4429; 505/983–9155;