Cloudcroft is home to the state's only natural ice rink - Albuquerque Journal

Cloudcroft is home to the state’s only natural ice rink

James Sewell Ice Rink
The James Sewell Ice Rink in Cloudcroft is home to the only natural ice rink in New Mexico. (Courtesy of James Sewell Ice Rink)

For a few months each year, Cloudcroft offers its own version of a Winter Wonderland.

The town, located within the Lincoln National Forest at an elevation of more than 8,000 feet, is home to only natural ice rink in New Mexico. It’s also believed to be the southernmost ice rink of that kind in the United States.

“The rink has been kind of been around since the development of Cloudcroft,” said owner/operator Donald Wiklund. “Where the ice rink is currently located is kind of like the low spot in town, where a lot of the watershed recedes. That was basically a spot where water froze and people could ice skate there. There was a mayor in Cloudcroft, his name was James Sewell, and when he was the mayor he dedicated that area to be an official ice rink within (Zenith Park).”

At first, the rink was a natural phenomenon. In the late 1990s, a steel covering and concrete pad were erected to make it more accessible – and to prevent direct sunlight from melting the ice in order to prolong the skating season. Today, the James Sewell Ice Rink (named after the mayor who dedicated the area) is a popular tourist attraction in Cloudcroft.

“I would say anywhere from 80-to-90-percent (comes from out of town). The tourism off of that is significant,” Wiklund said.

The rink is 60 feet wide by 120 feet long, and Wiklund says he’s had as many as 100 people on the ice at a given time. The length of the skating season can vary, beginning as early as Thanksgiving weekend and running as late as March. That, of course, is dependent upon the weather. Visitors are advised to check the rink’s Facebook and Instagram pages for hours, since they can be fluid. The most popular skating times typically include Christmas break, New Year’s Day and Martin Luther King Day or President’s Day weekends.

“It’s just been kind of intermittent as far as when we can open and be fully operational,” Wiklund said.

The rink generally only offers open skate options, but Wiklund has designs on expanding what can be done on the ice in the future if he is able to receive a recreational grant, which could also improve the facility to extend the season.

James Sewell Ice Rink
The snack bar at the James Sewell Ice Rink in Cloudcroft offers items like hot chocolate and s’mores. (Courtesy of James Sewell Ice Rink)

“We are interested in trying to promote a figure skating and hockey program,” he said. “I think the interest is there. It’s something that we certainly want to see happen for the kids because there’s not much for them to do. I’ve gone (in) on used hockey equipment and used skates to help promote that. We have pickup games every now and then. But usually that’s either first thing in the morning before we open or afterwards.”

The facility includes a snack bar that offers appropriate fare such as hot chocolate and s’mores. And there’s even a warming hut where visitors can put on their skates or simply watch what transpires on the ice if they don’t want to participate.

Most people tend to skate for about an hour, but there’s plenty more to do once they’re done making laps around the rink. Wiklund sells sleds and tubes for use on the hills at Zenith Park, and there are more advanced designated sledding areas in Upper Karr Canyon. Other outdoor options such as hiking and cross-country skiing are also available.

The rink, though, is an attraction in itself. For Wiklund, it became ingrained in his life.

“I moved to Cloudcroft in the early 90s. Myself along with all my siblings, we never knew how to ice skate or anyting like that,” he said. “That’s where we actually learned to ice skate. It just kind of slowly integrated for us. And now I run it.”

Home » From the newspaper » Cloudcroft is home to the state’s only natural ice rink

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories




Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages

 

Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
1
Folk duo to deliver their blend of tales and ...
Arts
The folk duo Johanna Hongell-Darsee and ... The folk duo Johanna Hongell-Darsee and Scott Darsee will perform their blend of early traditional Scandinavian/Celtic ballads and tales at Santa Fe's First Presbyterian ...
2
Opera Southwest brings Rossini's comedic 'Le comte Ory' to ...
Arts
Opera Southwest will perform the composer's ... Opera Southwest will perform the composer's last comedy, 'Le comte Ory,' for three shows in February at the National Hispanic Cultural Center's Albuquerque Journal ...
3
Hip-hop artist Khalisol is just getting started after recent ...
Arts
New Mexico-based rapper continues to build ... New Mexico-based rapper continues to build brand, hopes to expand Southwest's footprint in music
4
Resist pruning roses now or they might suffer later
Arts
The kindest thing you can do ... The kindest thing you can do for roses right now will be to offer them water.
5
New interpretive ranger to explain the history, culture of ...
Arts
Interpretive rangers are responsible for interpreting ... Interpretive rangers are responsible for interpreting the history and culture of the sites through public programming and direct engagement.
6
Home improvement show, first responder cook-off highlight Rio Rancho ...
Arts
The Rio Rancho Events Center is ... The Rio Rancho Events Center is hosting The Rio Rancho Home Improvement Marketplace Show from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, and from 10 ...
7
British artist Damien Hirst explores the way of bushido ...
Arts
Richard Levy Gallery is showing 'The ... Richard Levy Gallery is showing 'The Virtues' by Damien Hirst, an exhibition of eight new prints, Feb. 4 through March 18.
8
'House Gods' goes beyond materials and designs, and glimpses ...
Arts
Jim Kristofic spent five years researching ... Jim Kristofic spent five years researching and writing 'House Gods.' It is based on his interviews – and apprenticeships – ...
9
Filmmakers follow local ensemble Baracutanga as they travel to ...
Arts
The filmmakers will join the band ... The filmmakers will join the band in its journey back home to Bolivia and capture the trip in a feature-length documentary to share with ...