Blake Walsh

18 Best Things to Do in Ruidoso, NM

  • Published 2022/04/17

Located in the bosom of the Sierra Blanca, Ruidoso will steal your heart.

At first glance, you’ll surely find this village in New Mexico to be one of the most beautiful places you’ll ever set your eyes on.

The lakes, the natural trails, and the immense history of the Wild West make the place all the more valuable.

Most people visit in the winter when they can enjoy the best skiing in Ruidoso’s thick snow—but that is not all there is to this charming village.

Interested in finding out what else lies in store for you?

Here are the best things to do in Ruidoso, New Mexico:

Go Back in Time at the Historic Fort Stanton

Fort Stanton is one of the historical locations in Ruidoso.

Constructed in 1855, Fort Stanton was initially a military garrison.

Forty years later, it was turned into a hospital that primarily treated patients that were suffering from tuberculosis.

Fort Stanton also played a huge role during the Great Depression.

It was a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp at the time.

Even during the war, it was not left alone.

It was transformed into a German Internment Camp.

The stories of this fort are surreal, and no one can even imagine how much it has seen during its lifespan.

To preserve its vast history, the Fort Stanton Museum was established with the mission to tell tales of its heroic past.

Explore the Caves at the Fort Stanton-Snowy River Cave National Conservation Area

Did you know there are secret caves under the Sierra Blancas?

The Fort Stanton-Snowy River Cave National Conservation Area extends for more than 30 miles and is full of caves and caverns.

There are very few cave systems that are as long as this one in all of Mexico and the USA.

Not all of the caves are open to the public, for there are unknown species of bats inside, and not much is known about them.

You’re free to go and explore the ones that are open to everyone.

There are many trails around these cave formations that you can hike around.

Fall in Love with the Breathtaking Alto Lake

Beautiful view of Alto Lake

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Alto Lake is one of the most blissful places to visit in Ruidoso.

Its beauty is not easy to put into words.

You’ll have to visit Ruidoso and see this stunning lake with your own eyes.

Alto Lake is larger than it appears.

Tranquil water in the Alto Lake

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You might not notice it at first, but there’s another part of this lake that you can hike to.

If you choose to hike the whole trail, you’ll see that there are almost 2 miles’ worth of paths.

Fishing is one of the best activities here.

The lake is filled with trouts!

Mind boggling view of sunrise over the snow covered Alto Lake

Dominick Taylor /

Enjoy Superb Views from Monjeau Lookout

View of the stony architecture of the Monjeau Lookout

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Located in Lincoln National Forest, Monjeau Lookout was not always meant to be a spot for tourists.

In the old days, when there were no means of connecting with people or getting news early, a lot of forests were destroyed due to forest fires.

View from Monjeau Lookout

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Monjeau Lookout was built so that people could easily spot forest fires and take proper action.

Now, it is one of the most scenic tourist spots in Ruidoso.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the lookout offers majestic views of its surrounding areas.

Spectacular sight of the starry sky from Monjeau Lookout

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Embark on an Adventure in Grindstone Lake

Grindstone Lake surrounded by trees and plants

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Ruidoso is one of the most picturesque destinations and boasts many beautiful lakes.

One such lake is the splendid Grindstone Lake, which is gifted with all sorts of beautiful aspects.

You can take part in any sort of adventure around the lake for there are a lot of hiking trails.

The location is pretty as a painting and is perfect for your social media feed.

Calm waters at Grindstone Lake

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Want to go fishing?

Grindstone Lake is filled with some of the best fishes.

You can also go kayaking on the smooth waters of the lake.

Catch a Show at the Spencer Theater

Exterior view of Spencer Theater

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If you’re in Ruidoso during the summer and want to see what the village is all about, catch a show at the Spencer Theater.

The vast theater hosts several big events that include Broadway shows, musicals, and some notable fine performances.

The best thing about the Spencer Theater is that no matter where you’re seated, you’re guaranteed to have a wonderful view.

Its stunning design and architecture make it even more worth seeing in real life.

Do try to get tickets and catch a show in this world-class theater.

Go Skiing at the World-Famous Ski Apache

Aerial view of Ski Apache

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Ruidoso is one of the most prominent winter destinations in the world.

People plan their trips around the amount of snow in Ruisodo, and it never fails to brighten up their vacations.

Most tourists come here during the winter for a ski trip, and Ski Apache is where they spend most of their time.

Landscape of Ski Apache

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Did you know there are almost 55 trails to ski in Ski Apache?

It’s said that their skiing area takes up a whopping 700 acres of land.

Additionally, there’s a gondola where you can go and get a view from above.

There are zip lining services, too.

Stream flowing in Ski Apache

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Spot Wildlife at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Numerous birds drinking water from a waterbody at Bosque del Apache

Patricia Thomas /

The Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge is not exactly in the heart of Ruidoso, but it’s a quaint place that’s worth driving to while you’re visiting.

At the wildlife refuge, there are hundreds of acres of unspoiled nature.

Since the lands are empty, there are a lot of birds here.

Landscape of Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

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It is said that almost 300 variants of different birds call Bosque del Apache their home.

Nature lovers and those who love watching birds will fall in love with this attraction in Ruidoso.

Wapitis running across the field at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

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Have a Hearty Meal at the Village Buttery

The Village Buttery is the perfect place to go after a long day of exploring the new city.

Voted the “Best Lunch in Lincoln County,” this restaurant in Ruidoso must be doing something right.

If you have a sweet tooth, they serve the best homemade cookies and pecan pie.

Granny Guthrie’s Buttermilk Pie is another dish that everyone recommends.

Are you looking for something savory?

They have the best sandwiches and quesadillas for you to munch on.

Lift Your Spirits at Noisy Water Winery

Noisy Water Winery is a great place to lighten up after a long day of sightseeing.

Want to taste some of the local wines in Ruidoso?

Noisy Water Winery’s Besito Caliente and Rojo Caliente are two spicy wines that boast Authentic Mexican flavors.

Did you know they also make cheese?

Treat yourself to some spicy cheese, pair it with your choice of wine, and have a blast.

Go Shopping in Midtown Ruidoso

Want to see what the locals of Ruidoso have in store for you?

Midtown Ruidoso knows how to win every shopaholic’s heart.

There are hundreds of stores containing both international brands as well as local boutiques selling arts and crafts.

As for food and drink, Noisy Water Winery and Old Barrel Tea Company are just some of the notable dining locations in the vicinity.

You could spend hours exploring everything Midtown Ruidoso has to offer.

Stay at the Inn of the Mountain Gods

Statue at Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort

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Are you looking for a unique hotel to spend the night in Ruidoso?

Book a stay at the Inn of the Mountain Gods.

While it might be on the pricy side, it will certainly be worth the splurge.

View from Inn of the Mountain Gods

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The place boasts gorgeous views of the Southern Rocky Mountains and is a paradise of fun.

Want to go zip lining, kayaking, or hiking?

Or, do you want to go mountain biking in the rugged landscape?

The Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort is the ultimate place for those seeking to do all these things.

Learn about the Past at the Hubbard Museum of the American West

Want to catch a glimpse of how people used to live back in the day?

There are not many places in Ruidoso that will make you think that this town was filled with New Mexico’s early settlers.

The Native Americans made Ruidoso their home, and now all that’s left of them are the artifacts in this museum.

The Hubbard Museum of the American West tells you all about the supremacy of the Wild West.

You get to see all the hype about them.

See old artifacts such as their weapons, wagons, tools, and everything regarding how they used to earn their bread and live their life.

The museum is under the Smithsonian Institute and has some of the best displays.

Go Camping along Bonito Lake

Bonito Lake surrounded by lush greenery

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The Sierra Blanca mountains are home to this Alpine reservoir, a famous tourist attraction.

Alamogordo City relies on Bonito Lake for its principal water supply.

Due to its elevation, the water is always chilly and complete with rainbow trout.

Fishing, camping, and hiking are all popular activities in the region.

Landscape of Bonito Lake

Felix Garcia, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There are port-a-potties scattered around Westlake Campground, so you won’t have to go far to get clean water or a potty break.

A New Mexico fishing license is required to go fishing, which can be purchased at any sporting goods store.

Please be aware that fires are permitted only in fire pits.

Picnics, camping, and fires are not allowed on the beaches of the lake.

Dogs are welcome; however, they must be kept on a leash and their waste should be disposed of properly.

Ride a Sleigh at Grindstone Stables

It’s a different experience to observe an area from a vehicle window than while trekking.

Seeing a new region from the horse’s back is another experience.

Grindstone Stables offers guided trail rides that take riders through a picturesque lake and to the summit of the adjacent Townsend Ridge.

There are trails for cyclists of all levels, including beginners and kids.

Grindstone Stables also provides horse-drawn sleigh rides in the Upper Canyon and town carriage excursions throughout the winter months.

Unleash the Kid within You at Pillow’s Funtrackers

Pillow’s Funtrackers is an indoor arcade with a wide range of games and prizes and an opportunity to pan for gems.

At Pillow’s Funtrackers, you can let out your inner child, regardless of your age or social status.

The go-kart courses, bumper cars, and water cannon-equipped bumper boats at this family amusement park are great ways to have a good time with friends and family.

Pillow’s Funtrackers also has an 18-hole miniature golf course and a gigantic labyrinth the size of a human being at its disposal.

There’s no shortage of things to do and enjoy here.

Tee Off at The Links at Sierra Blanca

There’s little doubt that The Links at Sierra Blanca’s Jim Colbert design is a must-visit for any golfer.

From undulating hills to soaring pines to winter mountains, the 18-hole golf course is enveloped by breathtaking scenery.

Their facilities, including a 40,000 square-foot driving range, are available year-round.

The Links also provides PGA-trained instructors for private instruction and a golf shop with everything you could need.

When you’re not on the course, stop by the snack bar for some morning biscuits, burritos, or the other tasty treats they offer.

Feel the Adrenaline Rush at Adventure Mountain

For a family outing or a romantic date, Adventure Mountain has a variety of exciting activities to choose from.

Visitors of all ages may safely participate in various fun activities indoors and outdoors at this famous tourist destination.

Outside, the park features a rock-climbing wall, batting cages, and a ropes course 12 feet above the ground.

The park also features a Bazooka ball, a laser tag, and a paintball mix.

There’s also a mirror labyrinth and bumper cars to enjoy when you’re stuck indoors.

You’ll also be able to enjoy yourself at the park’s arcade, which is packed with games.

Final Thoughts

Ruidoso, New Mexico, is an ideal location to see some of the most breathtaking vistas in the state.

If you want to make the most of your visit, use this list of the best things to do in Ruidoso.

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