IMAGINE A THOUSAND NEEDLES PRICKING your entire body at the same time. That’s how retired San Miguel County magistrate judge Philip J. Romero—who helped originate Storrie Lake State Park’s annual Polar Bear Plunge—describes the sensation of jumping into the icy waters on New Year’s Day. As many New Mexicans would say, “Eeee, bro.”
Nevertheless, Storrie Lake State Park manager Manuel Villanueva says that for more than 25 years, scores of folks have lined up to kick off the new year with a noontime dip from the dock, in temperatures as low as 15 degrees Fahrenheit. “The most I’ve ever had was 160 people who jumped into the lake, with around 300 spectators,” he says. “I always have more spectators than I do jumpers. People say how crazy they are to jump into that freezing ice water.”
More than 70 miles due north of Storrie Lake, Eagle Nest Lake State Park has held its own plunge since 2009. There, brave participants are led out onto the ice one by one on January 1. “Everybody gets their moment,” says Agnes Gibson, secretary at Friends of Eagle Nest Lake State Park. State parks employees patrol the waters in wetsuits, keeping the situation safe—and if temps plummet to dangerous levels, the festivities must wait another year.
Villanueva, who worked the plunge for more than a decade before he ventured in, says those wild few seconds spent in the water are worth all the brrrs and chills. “It’s a crazy feeling. It’s a cleansing, almost. A new beginning.”
Polar Bear Plunge
January 1, noon
Storrie Lake State Park, Las Vegas, NM; 505-425-7278
New Year’s Day Polar Events (Stomp and Plunge)
January 1, noon
Eagle Nest Lake State Park, Eagle Nest, NM; 575-377-1594
Embrace the elements with these outdoor events.
Chama Chile Ski Classic
January 14 & 15
It’s Wine Time
These fiestas del vino pair well with gourmet snacks—and arts and crafts.
Taos Winter Wine Festival
Vines in the Pines Art and Wine Festival, Ruidoso
Texas Red’s Red River Songwriters’ Festival
The annual gathering of tunesmiths includes solo performances, dynamic duos, and cross-collabs, with a finale by the event’s founding members. In between, expect fine food and drinks, impromptu ski runs, and a late-night jam sesh or two.
Chocolate Fantasia, Silver City
From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in downtown Silver City, a $25 Golden Ticket gets you a treat from each participating chocolatier, a chance to meet Willy Wonka, a scavenger hunt, a costume contest, and all the melt-in-your-mouth fun you can handle.
Gathering of Quilts, Truth or Consequences
February 24 & 25
Cozy up to more than 100 quilts, from antique heirlooms to newly made creations by the Winter Quilters of Sierra County, along with demos, vendors, and appraisers.