Are you looking for something fun to do in Ruidoso, New Mexico? This charming town has plenty of family-friendly activities to keep everyone entertained. With family fun, outdoor activities, skiing, museums, parks, and picturesque driving loops — Ruidoso has something for everyone in your crew.
Let’s get started! Here are 14 things to do in Ruidoso, NM that you’re not going to want to miss!
Ski Apache is one of the premier ski resorts in the United States, and it is located in the beautiful state of New Mexico. The Mescalero Apache Tribe owns and operates the resort, and it is truly a unique experience.
Ski Apache has 11 lifts and an annual snowfall of over 15 feet, so you can be sure that there is always plenty of powder to enjoy. The views from the top of the mountain are absolutely breathtaking, and you can really get a sense of the serenity and beauty of nature.
Ski Apache is an affordable ski resort, and it is also one of the most scenic in all of North America. If you are looking for a truly unique ski experience, then Ski Apache is the perfect place for you. Plus, the money spent will go directly back into the Native American community.
INN OF THE MOUNTAIN GODS RESORT & CASINO
The Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & Casino is a beautiful and luxurious resort located on the Mescalero Apache reservation. The resort, also owned by the Mescalero Apache Tribe, offers a variety of amenities and services for guests to enjoy during their stay, including an award-winning golf course, delicious dining options, rejuvenating spa services (and soak in the hot tubs), and exciting casino gaming.
Additional great amenities at the resort include zip lining over Lake Mescalero and hiking through the stunning scenery of the Mescalero Apache reservation. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing getaway or an action-packed vacation, the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & Casino is the perfect destination.
SMOKEY BEAR HISTORICAL PARK
Did you know that the Smokey Bear mascot is based on a real-life black bear?
A forest fire in 1950 left a little black bear cub with burned paws, who quickly made his way into the hearts of Americans. The bear, who was later named Smokey, became an icon for forest fire prevention and lived in Washington D.C.’s National Zoo for 26 years.
Today, visitors can learn all about Smokey Bear at the Smokey Bear Historical Park. The park is home to Smokey’s gravesite, as well as a Visitor’s Center that features exhibits on his life and legacy.
WHITE SANDS NATIONAL MONUMENT
Have you ever wanted to try your hand at sand-sledding? Then grab your board and make your way to New Mexico’s dunes!
White Sands National Monument is home to the largest gypsum dune field in the world. The monument ranges in elevation from 3890′ to 4116′ above sea level and covers approximately 275 square miles. Within the monument, there are 115 square miles of dune fields, which are dynamic and constantly shifting.
If you are looking for a true one-of-a-kind experience, sand sledding at White Sands National Monument is a must! Unlike snow sledding, sand sledding does not require any special equipment – all you need is a cheap sled from the gift shop or a more solid one from online. Wax is also necessary to help you glide across the sand. Just be sure to stay on marked trails and don’t disturb any plant or animal life. If you are visiting White Sands National Monument, sand sledding is a must-do activity!
For those not quite as daring as the sand-sledders, the dune field is accessible via a scenic drive that takes visitors through some of the most beautiful scenery in New Mexico. Dunes Drive is an 8-mile drive from the Visitor Center to the heart of the dune field.
The first four miles of the drive offer stunning views of the mountains and dunes, but the best part is that the road turns to gypsum for the last four miles, so you can drive on the sand! However, don’t worry – the sand is packed tight and easily accessible for any car.
If you are short on time, this is a great option to get the highlights of the park. Along the way, there are several gift shops where visitors can purchase souvenirs and gifts. At the end of the drive, there is a parking area where visitors can explore the dunes on foot. There are also ranger-led programs available that provide further information about the dunes and the wildlife that inhabits them.
BILLY THE KID SCENIC BYWAY LOOP
The Billy the Kid Scenic Byway Loop is a great way to explore the beautiful state of New Mexico. The byway takes you through some of the most scenic and historic parts of the state, including hiking trails, ancient petroglyphs, and ghost towns. The loop is about 84 miles long and can be driven in an easy two hours. However, to truly soak up all the sights and attractions along the way, you should plan for a half-day trip.
One of the highlights of the Billy the Kid Scenic Byway Loop is hiking. There are plenty of hiking trails to choose from, ranging from easy strolls to challenging hikes. So whether you are looking for a short hike to a viewpoint or a challenging trek through the wilderness, you will find it on the Billy the Kid Scenic Byway Loop.
THE HUBBARD MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN WEST
If you’re looking to step back in time and learn about the American West, there is no better place to visit than the Hubbard Museum of the American West. This incredible museum houses the Anne C. Stradling Collection of authentic buggies and wagons, equestrian items, Native American artwork, and western art.
You can also stroll through the beautiful sculpture garden, featuring seven life-size horse breeds that Dave McGary expertly sculpted. And if you are traveling with kids, they will love participating in family-friendly activities, like role-playing in the Children’s Interactive Area or attending one of the monthly Summer Saturday programs. Plus, you can catch a Smithsonian movie in the on-site theater.
A visit to the Hubbard Museum of the American West is a truly unique and educational experience. Do not miss out on this one-of-a-kind museum when you are in New Mexico.
Fort Stanton is one of the most well-preserved military forts from the 19th century. The fort was established in 1855, and played an essential role in the Indian Wars and the Civil War. Today, visitors can explore the fort’s many buildings and learn about its fascinating history.
The fort also hosts a variety of living history events, including reenactments of the military garrison of the time. Fort Stanton is a must-see for anyone interested in American history or military history.
VALLEY OF FIRES RECREATION AREA
You have certainly seen this magnificent place on Instagram…
The Valley of Fires Recreation Area offers picnicking, camping, hiking, and wildlife viewing opportunities. Numerous nature trails wind through the lava flow and provide interpretive information about the area’s geology.
For some context, approximately 5,000 years ago, Little Black Peak erupted, covering 125 square miles of the Tularosa Basin with molten rock up to 160 feet thick. The lava flow is considered to be one of the youngest flows in the U.S.
Today, when you first see the valley from a distance, it appears as barren rock, but when you walk along the nature trail, there are many varieties of flowers, cactus, trees, and bushes typical of the Chihuahuan desert. This photogenic natural wonder is a must-stop on any Ruidoso itinerary.
SNOWY RIVER CAVE NATIONAL CONSERVATION AREA
The Snowy River Cave National Conservation Area is a unique and beautiful place that offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation. Visitors have the opportunity to play on over 100 miles of multi-use trails for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking.
Additionally, explorers can enjoy caving, wildlife viewing, nature study, and numerous spots for capturing excellent photography. There are also opportunities for camping at the Rob Jaggers Camping Area and the Cave Campgrounds.
LINCOLN NATIONAL FOREST
Lincoln National Forest is home to the Monjeau Lookout, which offers stunning views of the surrounding area. At an elevation of about 9,600′, you are in for a treat!
Mountain biking is also a popular activity in the national forest, with plenty of trails to explore. Other activities include hiking, horseback riding, camping, hunting, skiing, and snowboarding.
THREE RIVERS PETROGLYPH
The Three Rivers Petroglyphs are a fascinating example of prehistoric Jornada Mogollon rock art. Located just outside the Sacramento Mountains, the site contains over 21,000 petroglyphs, making it one of the largest and most compelling rock art sites in the Southwest. The petroglyphs include masks, sunbursts, wildlife, handprints, and geometric designs.
Visitors can try their hand at a rugged half-mile trail that links many of the most impressive petroglyphs, or adventure on a shorter trail that leads to a partially excavated Pueblo village.
Visitors can enjoy amazing views of the surrounding mountains and valley while hiking the trails and exploring the petroglyphs. The Three Rivers Petroglyphs are a must-see for anyone interested in prehistoric art or the history of the Southwest.
Ruidoso is home to Grindstone Stables, one of the state’s most popular horseback riding destinations. The stables offer a variety of rides for all skill levels, from beginners to experienced riders.
Guided horseback rides are available year-round, and during the winter months, sleigh rides are also offered.
Grindstone Lake is a beautiful spot for horseback riding trails, fishing, hiking, and enjoying the great outdoors. The trail system is well-maintained and offers impressive views of the surrounding area.
The recreational area is even home to a 27-hole disc golf course. Whether you are looking for a relaxing day in nature or an adventurous outing, Grindstone Lake is the perfect destination.
RUIDOSO DOWNS RACE TRACK & CASINO
If you’re ready to see some horse racing, you’ve come to the right place. The Ruidoso Downs Race Track & Casino is home to the World’s Richest Quarter Horse Race, the All American Futurity.
You’ll find live races every weekend from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Bring the family to watch the races, and see this spectacular sport in person!
In addition to the horse races, there’s also the Billy the Kid Casino at Ruidoso Downs, where you can choose from over 300 slot machines and participate in many other fun games.
Special events are held here throughout the year. A visit here is one of the best things to do in Ruidoso.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO NEW MEXICO
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WHERE TO STAY IN RUIDOSO
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