Pajarito is a wonderful little ski mountain that is easy drive from Los Alamos in good weather - snow and ice make for a narrow, winding, climbing road 3miles or so. However, this privately owned ski area is generally open only on weekends and holidays and this year, for the first time, Spring Break. Also, there have been some years when the storms tracked north and south and the mountain didn't open or had a very short season. Check in advance when planning your trip.
The area is privately owned and operated by the Los Alamos Ski Club, which didn't advertise to the general public until about the last decade. People in Santa Fe just scratched their heads when we asked about it and we finally made the trip in desperation over the heavy crowds that the Santa Fe ski area has developed. We had silly grins on our faces all day as we enjoyed groomed cruisers, challenging steep runs, often ungroomed, and practically an entire mountain to ourselves. We happily return whenever the snow gods favor the area and travel permits. The lifts are basic, but move briskly and lift lines are nonexistent. It's not a large area, but it doesn't feel small. and offers enough different levels of challenges to wear everyone out by the end of the day. The lift ticket rates generally fall somewhere in between Santa Fe and Sipapu's rates.
The lodge has a small dining spot offering basics such as burgers, chicken sandwiches, corn dogs, burritos, quesadillas, 2 soups, good fires, some premade sandwich and salad boxes, We didn't try breakfast, but it sounded good with 4-5 hot items and bakery staples. No bar - BYOB. Clean and reasonably priced for a ski area, with nothing over $9. Nice staff.
The equipment in the onsite rental shop was fairly new and in good condition and the employees, with one exception (apparently 2-day rentais are not the norm and there was some confusion) were friendly, helpful and competent.
The staff really does elevate the experience. I was limiting myself to the beginner bunny slope due to knee problems (not bad little greens) and frequent breaks. The ski instructors, in between lessons, were a friendly bunch. A lift operator began chatting with me on his break and gave me a pass for a free 1-hour lesson in sympathy. The lodge readily gave free cups of ice water.
One final note. The Las Conchas fire of 2011 destroyed 2 lifts and countless trees, and closed about a dozen runs due to ash, debris and other hazards. At least one of the lifts should reopen next season - apparently an early cold snap halted repair work - but rebuilding will take some years. I'm betting on that hardworking Ski Club to overcome it all.