Content Produced in Partnership with Discover Ruidoso

They say, "It's not about the destination, but the journey." Few places can embody that phrase more than Ruidoso, New Mexico. Tucked away in central New Mexico within the Sacramento Mountains, Ruidoso is one of those places that manages to be both the destination you've always dreamed about and the easy mid-way point to other adventures within the state known as the Land of Enchantment. A short drive away from popular attractions like Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands National Monument (we'll get to that in a bit), Ruidoso is more than just a sleepy mountain town. It's a town with welcoming locals (on both two and four legs), scenic views, and big adventures that deserve a bucket list of their very own.

Photo courtesy Discover Ruidoso

Forge your own path

With more than a million acres of wilderness area surrounding Ruidoso on all sides, technically speaking, chances are slim you will actually find a new hiking or biking trail when you visit Ruidoso. We wouldn’t let that deter you though. After all, you can still choose how you want to experience the trails in the three ranger districts of Lincoln National Forest. Whether you choose to hike, bike or even horseback ride, you’re sure to find a mode of transport to complement your adventure style.

Photo courtesy Discover Ruidoso

Leaf peep the New Mexico way

While many Americans gravitate toward the Northeast to see the fall colors in all their glory, we’d rather steer you west of the Mississippi toward Ruidoso, where the aspens, oaks, and maples drape the mountainside in brilliant shades of gold each year. Because of its high elevation in the mountains, the colors change gradually in Lincoln National Forest, creating a cascading rainbow effect down the mountainside as they do — making the effect all the more dazzling. We recommend timing your visit to coincide with several area events, like the Ruidoso Aspenfest in October, so you can enjoy the warm mountain hospitality as well.

Photo courtesy Discover Ruidoso

Get to know the other Ruidoso locals

Not all visitors (or locals) to Ruidoso arrive on two legs. Some have wings, others four legs, and a few have fins. Because of its location near so many protected wilderness areas, wildlife of all shapes and sizes find sanctuary within Ruidoso. One area that’s particularly popular is the Alto and Grindstone lakes region, where some 200 species of birds live in or migrate through Ruidoso each year. Grindstone Lake has a dedicated viewing platform for avid birdwatchers, but you don’t have to look to the skies to see the wildlife. Black bears and even golden and bald eagles are frequently spotted throughout Lincoln County. To top it off, several herds of wild horses live in the Alto area near Ski Run Road, and, when they aren't in the valleys, elk have been known to occasionally window shop through the downtown area as well.

Photo courtesy Discover Ruidoso

Follow the leader

Mountain biking isn’t the only form of cycling in this corner of the Sierra Mountains. Road biking is also a popular pastime. You might like it so much that’ll you’ll consider cruising back into town just in time for the Tour de Ruidoso Century Bicycle Ride in late September. The 100-mile ride begins at 6,900 foot elevation and takes riders through some of the prettiest mountain ranges New Mexico has to offer. There are also shorter (and much flatter) options for intermediate and beginner cyclists.

Photo courtesy Discover Ruidoso

Easy day trips

Perhaps the most surprising thing about Ruidoso isn’t how much space it has, but how close it is to other big-name places and destinations. Take for example, White Sands National Monument. Not only is it close enough to Ruidoso to be seen from atop the gondola at Ski Apache, but it’s also an easy hour-and-half-drive from Ruidoso to boot. Meanwhile, history buffs can learn about New Mexico’s involvement in the space program at the New Mexico Museum of Space History just 50 miles away in Alamogordo and then pay homage to the original Smokey Bear (yes, that Smokey Bear) at his birthplace and eventual resting place in Smokey Bear Historical Park just 25 minutes away in Capitan. All in all, Ruidoso is both a destination and an adventure base camp that will appeal to explorers of all ages.