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Discover The Historic Path to Becoming Angel Fire NM

Like many western states, Northern New Mexico was roiled with a storied past. Towns like Eagle Nest, Cimarron and the long-since abandoned mining town of Elizabethtown had their share of robberies, rowdiness and in some cases murder. The Village of Angel Fire however, having not been established until 1986 escaped that fate and exists as we know it today based on one family’s passion for skiing.

Angel Fire New Mexico at night

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Angel Fire: How It Got Its Name

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To understand Angel Fire and how it got its name, we have to travel back centuries. The first-known dwellers in the area were the nomadic Moache Ute and Jicarilla Apache tribes. They sought Angel Fire as a spiritual site for one of their Fall rituals. Legend has it that it was during this time when one of the elders remarked on the red and orange fire-looking sky as the sun rose and set over the mountains. He declared it, ‘breath of the spirits’ which Franciscan Friars later translated into ‘breath of angels’. The famed pioneer Kit Carson later shortened the name to Angel Fire.

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Early European Settlers In New Mexico

The first European settlers here were mainly of Spanish descent. They came with the intent of spreading Christianity among the Native American tribes. They stayed for the lore of the discovery of gold and silver in nearby mountain mining towns.

It would take centuries for Angel Fire to become what it is today. It wasn’t until 1864 when Lucien B. Maxwell would acquire 1.7 acres in Northern New Mexico, the largest US land grant ever issued. Maxwell, an entrepreneur and fur trapper from IL, then sold it to a British company incorporated under the name Maxwell Land Grant and Railway Company who had to settle territorial disputes to gain a clear title in 1887 by the Supreme Court.

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The Birth Of Angel Fire Resort

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In 1954 the LeBus family of Wichita, TX purchased several thousand acres on what is known as Monte Verde Ranch. In 1956 with a purchase of thousands of more acres from the Maxwell Land Grant, they became leading cattle ranchers in New Mexico’s scenic Moreno Valley. That’s when their kids, wanting to ski close to home, began putting tow ropes up the sides of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. Their Dad, Roy, together with his wife LaVena, took it one step further and that’s when Angel Fire Resort was born.

After visiting several ski resorts to get clear on their vision of a ski resort that would also feature golfing and fishing, construction began. By 1966 the slopes were laid out, a 9-hole golf course had been made as well as the shores of the Monte Verde Lake had been tamed and all were ready for visitors. As word got out families from Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico began to travel to the beautiful quaint town.

For Summer visitors, the golf course has been expanded to a fully PGA-ranked 18-hole golf course. People from all over come to enjoy the crisp mountain air, take in the views and revel in year-round outdoor adventures.

Today there are hundreds of unique visitor accommodations. Choose from classic resort suites, rent a ski-in-ski-out condo right at the base of the slopes or vacation rentals with scenic mountain views.

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Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Erected in 1968, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Angel Fire, NM was the first Vietnam Memorial site in the United States. Thanks to the vision and tenacity of Victor and Jeanne Westfall who constructed the site in memory of their son, Lt. Victor David Westphall lll, and 16 other brave soldiers who were killed in an ambush in Con Thien, Vietnam.

The site consists of a chapel with rotating photos of the men honored here, Veteran Memorial Walkway, life-size sculptures and a Bell Uroquois UH-1 (Huey), which saw action in the war. People come to reflect, walk through the gardens, and to view educational displays that rotate throughout the year.

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Discover one of the most beautiful and serene places in New Mexico. Find unique mountain adventures, explore eclectic dining, local art, history and more. Connect to Angel Fire and reconnect with your passions.



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