December 2011

Winter has Arrived in Arizona and New Mexico

Each winter, Arizona and New Mexico come alive with seasonal activities and events. From ice skating and hockey to birdwatching and animal exhibits, the states offer winter fun for everyone.
 
There’s plenty of ice for figure skating and hockey in Arizona. Local arenas typically host public skating hours, camps, birthday parties and lessons, in addition to regional sporting events and tournaments. In Peoria, take the whole family skating at Polar Ice Peoria, or join the rink’s Coffee Club for adults-only skating sessions. Polar Ice – which also has locations in Chandler and Gilbert – even offers themed party packages for birthdays. Not far from Peoria, in Phoenix, the Arcadia Ice Arena is a great place to celebrate the winter. The rink hosts corporate parties, broomball and other special events. Learn more about Polar Ice Peoria and the Arcadia Ice Arenaat www.polaricepeoria.com and www.arcadiaice.com.
 
Ruidoso Winter Park in Alto, New Mexico is a premier tubing course with more twists and turns than you can count. The park manufactures its own snow to help create the perfect riding conditions. You don’t have to worry about lugging your tube uphill thanks to two Magic Carpet Lifts that glide visitors on powerful conveyor belts. Tubes can seat anywhere from three to six riders, and the super-size tubes can hold up to 10. Call ahead for information about weather conditions and night tubing. Watch a video at www.ruidosowinterpark.com and get ready to hit the slopes.
 
Thanks to extensive grasslands, towering mountains, desert vegetation and warm winters, southeastern Arizona is a great place for birdwatching during the months of December and January. Places like Tucson boast year-round species such as hummingbirds, as well as specialty birds like Gray Hawks, Red-faced Warblers and Vermilion Flycatchers. Now that it’s winter, look for Sandhill Cranes and different types of waterfowl, sparrows and raptors. Learn more about Tucson’s birds at www.visittucson.org/visitor/outdoor/birding/, and find birding fieldtrips, festivals and other events at www.tucsonaudubon.org.
 
While winter birds fill the air in Arizona, New Mexico is showing off some of its own creatures as well. On July 21, 2011, two male snow leopards were born at the ABQ BioPark in Albuquerque. Visitors can catch a glimpse of mother Kachina and her babies, Kiran and Kalmali, at the zoo’s new exhibit. Snow leopards are endangered, and the BioPark works with the Species Survival Plan (SSP) to help protect these exquisite animals. With their fluffy white fur and abundant black spots, Kiran and Kalmali provide lots of entertainment for zoo visitors young and old. See photos of the newborns at www.cabq.gov/biopark/zoo/news/snow-leopard-twins-born-at-zoo-and-now-exploring-exhibit/.
 
Whether you’re surrounded by snowy mountaintops or warmer temperatures in the desert below, Arizona and New Mexico are winter wonderlands ready to help make this season one to remember.