An ideal destination for anyone who has ever been fascinated with the history of the American West, Ruidoso is the place to chase the ghosts of Billy the Kid and Kit Carson and walk the warm trails previously trod on by many a cowboy boot. Lincoln County, a former gold mining region, is rife with history which blends seamlessly into Ruidoso’s present. Flavorful southwestern cuisine abounds here, and every angle presents an opportunity to admire the surrounding landscape – the mighty snowcapped peaks of the Sierra Blanca mountains to the south, and to the north, the breathtaking pale plains of White Sands.
Ruidoso is located three hours from Albuquerque, two hours from El Paso and only 1.5 hours from Roswell. So, while remote, it is still an easy detour on any road trip through the Southwest.
The idea of coasting down the 12,000 peak of Sierra Blanca Peak might not be as well known as, say, Vail or Aspen, but once visitors get there, the only thought that crosses their mind is: "How did we not do this sooner?" With an annual snowfall of over 15 feet, snowmaking all the way to the top, a vertical drop of 1,900 feet, 55 varied trails and runs and 11 lifts with way shorter lines, this dark horse of the family ski industry is riding swift and high. Aside from the skiing, the complex is home to three terrain parks, tubing and other outdoor winter activities. Area families a far cry from the Rockies will get a new bonding experience on the slopes of this Southwestern ski resort.
Visitors get to satisfy their childhood fascinations with cowboys at the Hubbard Museum of the American West, which displays art pieces, artifacts, photographs and cowboy and cattling equipment like bits, spurs, bridles and saddles from around the world and throughout time. Outside, tourists are immediately welcomed by a pack of bronzed wild horses galloping across the landscape, forming the "Rite of Passage" sculpture installation by Sandy Scott. The lower floor has a wide collection of wagons and carriages from the early American West, and interactive exhibitions for kids. Visitors can also learn about the early Native Americans who lived in New Mexico during the time of settlement through the art they produced.
It’s just as scenic a drive as it is a hike, but drivers are encouraged to slow down and check their breaks – hikers should check the temperature. Rising from 4,300 feet in altitude to well over 7,000 feet, those who can’t handle the heat might want to sit this one out in the blazing New Mexico summer. But the views are stupendous from the ridgeline, overlooking foliated mountain peaks, clear blue skies, White Sands National Monument off in the distance and thick forests – in fact, this is the home forest of Smokey Bear, the original protector from forest fires.
This family run and operated breakfast bakery serves up all their goods fresh, from their daily roasted coffee and pastries baked on-site to their northwestern inspired country breakfasts. That’s right – homemade salsa layered in their huevos rancheros. Breakfast burritos abound here, and how! The proportions are massive: stacks of Sealy Posturepedic-sized pancakes smothered in syrup, heaping plates of fluffy omelets, the Sierra Blanca french toast that’s as big as its namesake. And on their way out, while clutching their bulging stomachs, visitors can stop by the pastry counter and grab some cookies or empanadas to go, with another top-up of coffee.
Rising high out of the mountains of Mescalero, New Mexico, on the outskirts of Ruidoso, Inn of the Mountain Gods is a luxury resort owned and operated by the Mescalero Apache tribe. With so much to do on the premises and in the mountains, guests won’t need to stray far from the resort: the Inn houses a 273 rooms and suites, 38,000 square foot casino, an 18-hole championship golf course, indoor pool, skiing and snowboarding in the mountains, and a variety of dining options. And the view is worth the drive up – the view that surrounds every angle of this massive resort and casino, is the reason why the front walls of the lobby have been replaced with floor-to-ceiling windows. This mountain getaway is exactly that.