This post is sponsored by Discover Ruidoso
The warm glow of the rising sun is still lingering in the sky yet the crisp mountainside is slowly waking up. I sip on my freshly brewed coffee welcoming the cool mountain air on my face. I contemplate what we should do today as I go over the long list of activities in my head.
Welcome to Ruidoso
This is how I picture my first visit to Ruidoso, a unique mountain village in south-central New Mexico. There’s nothing that says relaxation like getting off the beaten path and surrounding yourself with nature. Tucked away in the foothills of the scenic Sacramento Mountains, the area offers a wide-range of activities to either stop you in your tracks for a relaxing trip or keep you active in the great outdoors.
With my goal of traveling to all 50 states, the land of enchantment is high on my list for many reasons.
New Mexico offers dazzling diverse terrain, a chance to connect with nature, and a glimpse into the American Old West. Let’s see how Ruidoso measures up!
Outdoor Adventures for Every Season
Situated at an elevation of nearly 7,000 feet, Ruidoso is a great place to get outside in all seasons. The location provides an escape from the heat in late spring to early fall. From therapeutic hiking to exhilarating zip lining, it’s easy to find something for everyone. Like to fish? Cast a line in the pristine mountain lakes, rambling rivers or small streams.
With the exception of hiking alongside grizzlies (read more on that story here), one of my favorite outdoor activities is experiencing wildlife in their natural habitat. With the Lincoln National Forest just a hop, jump and a skip away so are elk, deer, and black bears, oh my! The forest also provides a breathtaking backdrop in the fall when the trees paint the mountainside with a splash of color.
Winter is also a magical time of year to visit Ruidoso. Adventure doesn’t stop when snow falls, instead visitors frolic in it. Skiers hit the slopes, children giggle as they bounce down the hillside, adventurers jump on a snowboard or zip line, and romantics take a ride on a horse-drawn sleigh.
History and Legends
A city girl myself, the American Wild West filled with stories of cowboys, Indians and outlaws, has always intrigued me. In Ruidoso, you’ll be transported back to the era when land was up for grabs and guns were a’blazing.
Once home to Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett, Lincoln County will show you what it was like to survive during these times. Take a short road trip along the Billy the Kid National Scenic Byway to not only experience the rugged beauty of the west, but the rugged history as well.
I would begin my journey at the Hubbard Museum of the American West, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute. It’s a fascinating introduction to the Old West and the history of Native American and pioneer life in the region. Important landmarks along the route include Fort Stanton, built in 1855 to protect settlers from Native American invasions, and the Lincoln courthouse and jail which became famous when the Wild West legend escaped killing two guards on his way out. Another must-stop is the town of Lincoln, considered one of the best-preserved Old West towns in the country.
The byway is also home to Smokey Bear’s final resting place. Did you know Smokey the Bear is based on a real bear? I had no idea! In 1950, a wildfire was sweeping through the Capitan Mountains and as rangers fought to keep it under control, they came across a badly burned cub in a completely scorched tree. The cub survived and became the face of the ever well-known slogan, “Only YOU can prevent forest fires.
Small-Town Charm Mixed with Culture
We love the simplicity and coziness of small town America. We could spend at least a day perusing through the galleries, art studios and artisan shops of Ruidoso’s main strip. The Spencer Theater of Performing Arts, considered one of the finest theaters in the world, is just north of downtown Ruidoso. The $22 million structure is praised for its unique architecture, excellent acoustics and impressive line-up of performers. It is yet another building decorated with multiple blown glass installations by the acclaimed Dale Chihuly. We became fans of his when visiting Seattle a few years back and now feel like we see his work everywhere!
Is Ruidoso for Us? For You?
Ruidoso’s lush mountain setting and small town feel combined with historical relevance is a great escape from the mundane. It is an area with beautiful mountain vistas, countless adventures, and a fun place to rediscover yourself.
If you are looking for an offbeat fun experience in New Mexico, think Ruidoso, I know we will!
If you would like to plan a trip to New Mexico, visit Discover Ruidoso to learn more.
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What would you like to do on a visit to Ruidoso?
*Photos provided by Discover Ruidoso
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