Ruidoso NM Travel Guide 2024

2024 Ruidoso Visitors Guide

The real American West is about mountains and meadows, wide open spaces and the freedom to explore every inch of them. That’s what Ruidoso is about. Feel the breeze brush your cheek. Light a campfire. Cast to a rising trout. Ride a horse. Barbeque under the green trees of the Lincoln National Forest. Watch the sun set and be a part of the priceless mountains of the great West.

Few first-time visitors are surprised to find that Ruidoso enjoys a blessed setting in the shadows of New Mexico’s high mountains of Sierra Blanca. Ruidoso is an impeccable gem, and in a part of the world where alluring alpine villages aren’t exactly rare.

Newcomers are, however, often surprised to learn that this great village of 8,000 supports a caliber of distinguished restaurants, inns, museums, shops, galleries, casinos, race track and millions of acres of natural protected forest beauty. Ruidoso draws a steady stream of worldly and creative spirits.

Ruidoso conjures up images of forested mountains, grazing meadows, lovely summers, great fishing in cool mountain lakes and streams, skiing during mild winters, wild game, golf resort and endless hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and jeep trails through miles of beautiful forest.

Horse Races at the Ruidoso Downs Racetrack. Another big season predicted at the Horse Races. Slot machines, exciting new races and a festival which highlights New Mexico-bred horses, culture and cuisine will enchant this years visitors to the Ruidoso Downs Racetrack.

Billy the Kid National Scenic Byway takes you from Ruidoso to Capitan, Lincoln, Hondo and Ruidoso Downs.

Lincoln is a historic town made famous by one of the most violent periods in New Mexico history. The village is a State Monument an a National Historic Site. A visit to Lincoln is a MUST!! Today’s visitors can see the Old Lincoln County Courthouse with museum exhibitions that recount the details of the Lincoln County War and the historic use of the “House” as store, residence, Masonic Lodge, courthouse and jail.

Walk in the footsteps of Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett and other famous and infamous characters of the Wild West. Trace the events of 1878 through the Courthouse and the Tunstall Store, with their preserved 19th-century atmosphere.

The Tunstall Store contains displays of the original 19th-century merchandise in the original shelving and cases. Every first weekend in August the Billy the Kid Pageant is held during the old Lincoln Days.

Capitan was founded in 1890’s. The village is home to Smokey Bear. In 1950 a forest fire swept through the Capitan Mountains. Clinging to a charred tree, a small black bear was found by a crew of firefighters. The cub was taken to the home of a local rancher and became an international symbol of forest fire prevention. Visit Smokey Bear Museum in Capitan. Annual events in Capitan include: July 4 Smokey Bear Stampede which includes a fun run, parade, BBQ, Western Dance and a very popular Rodeo; third week in July Ranchers’ Camp Meeting at Nogal Lake.

White Oaks, the mining boomtown in the 1880s. Several landmark buildings still stand. White Oaks is now a ghost town and a tourist attraction. Visit the White Oaks Schoolhouse Museum, built in 1895. It now hosts family reunions, art tours and an extensive collection of mining and pioneer memorabilia. White Oaks, located northeast of Carrizozo, is the scene of several yearly celebrations including Arts Weekend during June. Don’t forget to visit “Scum Not Allowed” bar. Live performances every other weekend.

Fort Stanton is a historical site with unprecedented historical significance and located on Billy the Kid National Scenic Byway. Check out

Cloudcroft is a 45 minutes drive from Ruidoso. It’s another very interesting mountain village with great opportunities for outdoor activities, scenic vistas, historic sites and fun shopping. Like Ruidoso, you have hiking and mountain biking trails and golf. Their is even a small ski area for some ski fun during winter time.

The season at Ski Apache traditionally begins at Thanksgiving. Being the southernmost major ski area in the United States, Ski Apache ordinarily provides temperatures ten to fifteen degrees warmer than those at resorts in northern New Mexico or Colorado.

Ruidoso area is the green spot of south central New Mexico. It is an island of pines rising high above the desert, a verdant display of grandeur stretching ninety miles in the southern Rocky Mountains.

The region includes Ruidoso, Mescalero Apache Reservation, Cloudcroft, Lincoln and a collection of other mountain communities each with its own charm and personality.

The most dominant landmark is Sierra Blanca Peak which towers above the region: 12,003 feet above sea level. Sierra Blanca Peak is part of a mountain chain called the Sacramentos.

Lincoln is one of the many points of interest along the Billy the Kid National Scenic Byway. Travel this byway and experience both the breathtaking beauty and volatile history of New Mexico.

The Mal Pais is one of the most forbidding places nature ever built. Throughout history, most people have avoided the area, but a few prospectors and ranchers have attempted to make a living on it, only to fail miserably. The 462-acre state park has picnic and camping areas, grills, shelters, restrooms, drinking water and a playground for enhoyment. There is also a very fine nature trails provided, with a wheelchair accessible portion. Located just 5 miles west of Carrizozo, the Valley of Fires State Park is the site of an ancient Indian legend that the “malpi” country was once a “valley of fire”. The lava covers 125 square miles and is more than 160 feet deep at the center.

Lincoln County National Forest

Backpack or picknic into the high mountains and mesas of Lincoln County National Forest and the gentle loops in the many mountain canyons. Invigorate pinion perfumes. There are hundreds of trails in the Lincoln National Forest for hiking, biking, horse back riding and jeeps.

Head towards the historic town of Lincoln, stomping grounds of the infamous Billy the Kid. Explore Wild West history in the local museums. Continue towards the ghost mining town of White Oaks, then head for Carrizozo, to visit the famous (at least in these parts!) Sierra Blanca Brewery. Next, travel on to the Three Rivers Petroglyph National Recreation Site where ancient Native American petroglyphs are carved into the stone. All around you the multicolored bluffs expose geologic history as well as the exquisite Native American icons. Wrap up the day with a visit to a local winery in Tularosa. In the evening dine around the campfire while enjoying the clear skies and bright stars.

Nogal Canyon

In the beautiful Nogal Canyon try your luck at gold panning and explore abandoned mine shafts. You may wish to arrange a trail ride on horseback through the Wilderness Mountains or try your luck fishing for trout at Bonito Lake. Let the evening dinner be highlighted by entertainment in the real Southwest style at the Flying J-Range – open all summer.

Nogal Canyon

Ski Apache is named one of the top five best Ski and Snowboard Resorts in the nation.

From just after Thanks Giving to Easter, Ski Apache offers skiing and snowboarding on groomed powder slopes with the largest lift capacity in New Mexico.

At North America’s southernmost destination ski and snowboard area, the view from the top is of pine – covered majestic mountains surrounded by desert and white sand. It’s fun for experts, intermediates, beginners, never evers, children and singles. Day’s are mostly sunny and winter is bargain season.

You’ll find no condo developments and no ski-in/ski-out hotels at the ski area – this is a pure ski resort.

Ski Apache

Ski Apache is the only Resort where snowboarders are welcome. Nearby snowmobile rentals. It is the only Ski Resort in New Mexico with a gondola. Ski Apache is the most southern located Ski Resort of the US.

The beautiful ski and snowboarding area is found in a region occupying an oasis of pine-covered mountains surrounded by the sprawling New Mexican desert. From the “Lookout Snack Bar”, at the top of the gondola, the panorama is one of the most expansive to be found at any ski resort in North America. The view takes in the White Sands National Monument, the site of the first atom bomb explosion, the forest where Smokey Bear was rescued and the Old West towns where Billy The Kid roamed. Trail names echo the Apache heritage: Geronimo, Screaming Eagle, Chino and Ambush. Skiers from Texas, Germans from nearby Holloman Air Force Base, and Mexican visitors all mix with the Mescalero Indians who make the resort work.

Sierra Blanca Peak

Sierra Blanca Peak, home of Ski Apache, majestically rises almost 8,000 feet over the White Sands of South-Central New Mexico to a towering elevation of over 12,000 feet. For centuries travelers have set their sights on this landmark. Today, winter sports enthusiasts look no further when they are seeking the best skiing and snowboarding in the South-West.

New Mexico has 11 Ski Resorts. 9 of them in the northern part and 2 in the southern part of the state. Where do you go. Ski Apache is the natural choice. Let’s face it. Your days are filled with snow and sunshine. Ski Apache is only 3 hours drive from Albuquerque, 2 hours drive from El Paso or Las Cruces, 1 hour drive from Alamogordo.

Share on: