If you told me my favorite weekend getaway last year would’ve been to the middle of New Mexico, I would have looked at you incredulously. I wouldn’t have even believed there was a ski resort with any sort of elevation in New Mexico had I not seen it with my own eyes. But they don’t call it the Land of Enchantment for nothing. Here’s a rundown of things to do in Ruidoso and why you should visit.

As someone always in search of the affordable destinations that offer the perfect blend of mountains, water, city and outdoors, this place checks all the boxes for an ideal four-seasons destination and this is one gem I can’t wait to share with you.

So wait…what is this place?

A magical place where wildflowers stretch as far as the eye can see and uninterrupted wilderness is paired with a haute downtown when you need some R&R. Originally called Rio Ruidoso, the name translates to “Noisy River.” The river cuts through the town, offering a number of places to stay with a “cabins in the woods” meets Southwest chic feel. The town is deeply rooted in both Spanish and Native American origins, giving it a unique mish-mashing of cultures. Set at an elevation of 7,000 feet in the Sacrament Mountains, it is a refreshing hamlet from the unforgiving desert sun and a ski retreat in the winter months.

What things are there to do in Ruidoso?

A lot! With over 300 days of sun a year, there are tons of things to do in Ruidoso and no bad time to visit. It’s surrounded by over a million acres of forest to hike, bike and horseback ride to your heart’s content. The area is also home to Smokey the Bear and herds of wild horses. Your neighbors will be of the furry and fuzzy variety, as elk, deer, and bears are known to amble about. Grindstone and Alto Lakes are the perfect places to unwind fishing, hiking, mountain biking, or simply walking amongst the wildflowers. There are over 200 species of migratory birds that flitter about, so you’ll really be “one with the birds” as they say.

That sounds pretty great…what else is there to do in Ruidoso?

White Sands National Park (1 hour, 20 minutes) is a must-see day trip with blindingly brilliant dunes as far as the eye can see. You can camp, sand board, or horseback ride there. Ski Apache gets over 15 feet of snow a year, and in the summer months, it is home to one of the longest zip lines in the world, which has both daytime and nighttime tours. A little further afield, you could also venture to Carlsbad Caverns (3 hours), the Hot Springs at Truth or Consequences (2.5 hours), Valley of Fires (45 minutes) or the Three Rivers Petroglyph Site (1 hour, 10 minutes).

I like the outdoors, but I’m also a city girl. What’s the town like?

Picture your favorite main street and add a touch of Southwest flair. There are gourmet food vendors with more green chile creations than you ever dreamed possible, boutique western wear to get your cowgirl on, endless art galleries, and plenty of places to toss one back after a long day exploring. There is also horse racing at Ruidoso Downs and a large casino if you’re into that kind of thing. 

It sounds like heaven. Is it expensive?

Nope! That’s the best part – you can absolutely ball on a budget. Hotels are more than affordable and cabin rentals average just about $150 a night. The Noisy River Winery has wine tastings for just $5 with free artisan cheese pairings. And your views and nature are of course, free.

I’m sold! How do I get there?

Ruidoso is located in south-central New Mexico. It’s an easy drive from El Paso (2.5 hours), Roswell (1.5 hours), Albuquerque (3 hours), or Santa Fe (3 hours). Bon voyage!

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The best things to do in Ruidoso, New Mexico. White Sands National Monument and secret outdoor adventure spots in NM. Amazing places to go in New Mexico.
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