Beating the Summer Heat: 10 Things to do in Ruidoso, New Mexico with Kids

Today’s post is sponsored by Discover Ruidoso.

Long-time followers will know that I’m on a quest to visit all fifty states by the time that I turn fifty (checking off three more this month!) New Mexico is at the top of that wishlist and I’ve been spending some time researching what there is to do outside of cities like Albuquerque or Santa Fe. To be honest, I hadn’t heard of Ruidoso, New Mexico until Discover Ruidoso reached out to me, but I’m glad they did! One of my concerns about visiting New Mexico in the summer was dealing with extreme heat, but the mountain village of Ruidoso is a great spot to beat the heat from late spring to early fall. Average summer temperatures range from the 70s to the mid-80s, which to me is just perfect for enjoying the outdoors.

Ruidoso is located in southeastern New Mexico in the Sierra Blanca mountain range, home of the Ski Apache resort and near Lincoln National Forest. It is a little over an hour drive to White Sand Monument National Park, three hours southeast of Albuquerque, and just over an hour to Roswell, New Mexico. Even Carlsbad Caverns are only three hours away, so Ruidoso can be a nice home base for exploring southern New Mexico. Ruidoso was first settled by the Mescalero Apache, and was named by the Spanish (Rio Ruidoso means “noisy river”.) The area is green and lush with tall mountain pines — not exactly the desert landscape many associate with New Mexico. The town maintains its deep roots in Native American culture, while offering the amenities of a world-class mountain resort.

There are a lot of reasons why this off-the-beaten path destination should be on your radar (if it isn’t already.) From outdoor activities to western history to the charming village center to wildlife viewing, Ruidoso is a great place to get outside for a mountain escape. Here are some ideas of what to do in Ruidoso with kids.

Ruidoso New Mexico10 Things to do in Ruidoso, New Mexico with Kids

1 – Ride the Apache Eagle ZipRider at the Inn of the Mountain Gods. Zoom down the fourth longest zipline in North America at speeds up to 30 mph and enjoy the views of Lake Mescalero. Note: Closed toe shoes and reservations are required.

2 – Enjoy a Chuckwagon Supper and Western Show. You can’t visit the American Southwest without paying some tribute to the cowboy culture. The Flying J Ranch offers a Chuckwagon Supper and Western Show six nights a week in the summer and it has been voted the #1 tourist attraction in New Mexico. Families can enjoy the Bonita City old west town, Cindy’s Sweet Shop, a pistol shoot, pony rides, gold panning, and blacksmith shop and a chapel. Be prepared for a gunfight before dinner and an action packed show following filled with yodeling, fiddling, banjo playing and guitar picking.  Reservations are requested.Flying J Ranch

3 – Take a horseback trail ride. Grindstone Stables offers one-hour trail rides past Grindstone Lake and to the top of Townsend Ridge, offering scenic vistas and possibly wildlife viewing. Children over five can ride their own horse and younger children can ride with an adult. Grindstone also offers carriages rides and, in the winter, sleigh rides.Horseback riding in Ruidoso

4 – Look for wildlife. Nearby Lincoln National Forest offers plentiful opportunities for wildlife viewing including elk, deer, bald eagles and bear. Be sure to check out some of the best trails for wildlife viewing in Ruidoso.

5 – Go mountain biking. Ski Apache recently installed 5.5 miles of mountain biking trails. At a grade of 6 and 8 percent  steepness, these trails travel under the majestic Sierra Blanca peak from the top of the gondola, back to the base area of Ski Apache.Mountain biking in Ruidoso

6 – Attend the Smoky Bear Stampede. In July, Ruidoso is host to the nation’s largest open rodeo weekend, including four nightly rodeos, a two-day ranch rodeo, youth ranch rodeo, kid’s rough stock rodeo, cook-off, kids events, and nightly dances. With a campfire dutch oven competition, mutton bustin’, steer riding, evening rodeo, fireworks, and a dance, you won’t want to miss it.

7 – Visit Smokey Bear Historical Park. Did you know that there was a real Smokey the Bear? It was a little bear cub that was found with burned paws after a 17,000-acre forest fire in 1950 on the Capitan Mountains near Capitan, New Mexico. After living in the National Zoo in Washington D.C. for 26 years, Smokey passed away and was returned to the Village of Capitan to be buried at what is now the Smokey Bear Historical Park. Today, the park offers exhibits on the history of the fire prevention program, black bears, forest health, and fire safety. There is also a playground for kids with a fire tower, climbing wall, fire engine and swings.

8 – Learn a little history. Fort Stanton Historic Site was established in 1855 and was used in the Civil War and Indian Wars. In July, the Fort Stanton LIVE event brings war re-enactors to the Fort for demonstrations, presentations, concert and a military ball.

9 – Take part in Old Lincoln Days. Visit Lincoln, NM (just 40 minutes away along the Billy the Kid Trail) to see the birthplace of Billy the Kid. In August, enjoy a weekend of folk pageants with re-enactors portraying Billy the Kid’s last escape and the notorious Lincoln County War. You will also find great food, live music, shopping and a parade to celebrate the Old West.Shopping in Ruidoso NM

10 – Enjoy the small-town shops and galleries. Ruidoso is southern New Mexico’s #1 arts destination. Galleries abound featuring western art, bronzes, and jewelry. There is a year-round calendar of events including fine arts and photography exhibits, studio tours, and the Ruidoso Arts Festival.  And don’t miss the multiple blown glass installations by Seattle artist Dale Chihuly at the Spencer Theater.

Ruidoso is a great escape with so much to do to relax and enjoy the outdoors. You can bet I’m adding it to my list of places to visit when I get to New Mexico!


New Mexico travel tips: Things to do in Ruidoso New Mexico with kids.

Note: This post was sponsored by Discover Ruidoso. All opinions are my own. Photos courtesy of Discover Ruidoso.

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Publish Date: August 7, 2017


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