Attractions and Entertainment
Billy the Kid National Scenic Byway and Visitor Center
Make the BTK visitor center your first stop before traveling along the national byway. This driving loop circles much of Lincoln County allowing visitors the chance to see a wide range of local topography, attractions, historic and artistic venues. The byway center is found in Ruidoso Downs on Hwy. 70. www.billybyway.com
Dowlin's Historic Old Mill
Reputed to be the hangout of Billy the Kid, Dowlin’s Mill is the oldest building standing in Ruidoso. A onetime gristmill, sawmill, and blacksmith shop, it still has a working flower mill run by a water wheel and offers visitors tours and a gift shop at 641 Sudderth Dr. in Ruidoso. 575-257-2811. www.historicoldmill.com.
Hubbard Museum of The American West
The Hubbard Museum is the only Smithsonian Affiliate operating in New Mexico, housing an extensive collection of cowboy, American West, and Native American art, artifacts and special programming and exhibits. It is located in Ruidoso Downs at 841 Hwy. 70. 575-378-4142. www.hubbardmuseum.org.
Free Spirits at Noisy Water
This breathtaking exhibit featuring seven larger-than-life bronze horses is a landmark achievement of artist Dave McGary. The monumental works graces the entrance to the Hubbard Museum of the American West, at 841 Hwy. 70 in Ruidoso Downs, and makes for fantastic, one of a kind photo ops and outings.
The old West is more than a distant memory in the historic town of Lincoln, home of the Lincoln County War and the last gunfight of Billy the Kid. Today, old Lincoln, through careful preservation and restoration, has emerged as a visible reminder of the past. Within the town’s limits are 11 state monuments and four museums that pay tribute to the Lincoln County War, Mescalero Apache Indians, the Buffalo Soldiers and, of course, Billy the Kid and gang. Be sure to plan a trip to Lincoln the first weekend in August for a folk pageant centering around the life of the legendary outlaw. 800-263-5929,www.zianet.com/lpfc .
Fort Stanton Museum
Passage into two centuries of Lincoln County history is found at the Fort Stanton reservation and living history museum southeast of Ruidoso. The fort was established in 1855 to protect settlers of the region from marauding Apache bands and in time evolved into a tuberculosis hospital, then state hospital. The renowned Buffalo Soldiers bunked there, Gen. “Blackjack” Pershing served at the fort and Kit Carson visited. For a short period, Confederate soldiers took over command at the Fort during the Civil War. Then, during WWII, the crew of a German ship was interned at a camp near the fort. To access the campgrounds and museum, travel north of Ruidoso on Mechem to Hwy. 48 then turn east on Airport Road. The museum is open 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Thursday through Monday.
Lincoln National Forest
Outdoor recreation from horseback riding to camping, fishing, to hiking are found at various locations near Ruidoso in the Lincoln National Forest. In addition, the forest service operates the Cedar Creek Recreation area just off Mechem Drive in Ruidoso. Maps and are available at the Smokey Bear Ranger District office on Mechem Dr. In addition, the Lincoln County Tour Company offers guided tours to natural wonder sites in Lincoln and Otero counties. Give them a call at 575-257-6069.
Flying J Ranch
Join the renowned Flying J Wranglers for a true western experience complete with gunfights, cowboy fixins, an authentic western stage show, gift shops, pony rides and pistol shooting May-September. Located on North Mechem to Hwy. 48 in Alto. 888-458-3595.
Ruidoso Downs Race Track
When it comes to excitement of a different nature, Ruidoso Downs Race Track is the obvious place to go. Home to the world’s richest Quarter Horse race, the $1 million All American Futurity, the Downs features the best Quarter Horses in the world and the finest Thoroughbred racing in the southwest, May-Labor Day Weekend. The track is located in Ruidoso Downs on Hwy. 70. 575-378-4431,www.ruidosodownsracing.com.
Spencer Theater for the Performing
ArtsLocated on Hwy. 220 (intersecting with Hwy. 48 at nearby Alto), the theater features world class performances music, theater and dance. The theater was designed by world renown architect Antoine Predock and features glass art by Dale Chihuly. Free public tours are offered 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, except on show days and holidays. 575-336-4800, 888-818-7872. www.spencertheater.com.
When the frost hangs in the air and snow starts to fly, all thoughts turn to the ski slopes. Ski Apache boasts New Mexico’s largest loft capacity and runs the state’s only four passenger gondola. Owned and operated by the Mescalero Apache Tribe, Ski Apache has a lift capacity of over 15,300 skiers per hour. The ski season starts each November on Thanksgiving Day and runs until Easter. 575-336-4356, www.skiapache.com.
The Ruidoso area offers not one but five options for putting in paradise. Whether one is seeking nine or 18 holes, mountainous or flat surroundings, a municipal course or a country club, it all can be found in or near Ruidoso: The Links at Sierra Blanca, 105 Sierra Blanca Dr., 575-258-5330; Cree Meadows Public Golf Course, 301 Country Club Dr., Ruidoso, 575-257-5815; Alto Lakes Golf & Country Club, 100 Country Club Dr., Alto, 575-336-4231; Inn of the Mountain Gods on Carrizo Canyon Rd., Mescalero, 575-257-5141; Kokopelli Golf & Tennis Club, 201 High Mesa Rd., Alto, 575-336-1818.
Located at 2710 Sudderth Dr., Mountain Annies dinner theater complex features entertainment by George and Barbara Staerkel Memorial Day Weekend through the Summer (Branson-style entertainment feature a song list that spans oldies to Broadway), while fall and winter brings a variety of concerts and musical theater productions. For reservations call 575-257-7982. www.mountainannies.com .
Live Poker, Blackjack, Craps, 24-Hour Video Slots and paramutual racing keep things exciting in the greater Ruidoso area year around at three separate casinos: Billy the Kid Casino at the Ruidoso Downs Race Track, Hwy. 70; Apache Casino on U.S. 70 West, and; the Inn of the Mountain Gods Casino in nearby Mescalero off U.S. 70 West.
Three go cart tracks are just the beginning…Funtrackers amusement park in Ruidoso offers miniature golf, bumper boats, a full video arcade and a human maze located just adjacent to it at 101 Carrizo Canyon Rd. 575-257-3275.
Tubing and Sledding
Slipping and sliding on slopes a’plenty are the order of the day at Ruidoso Winter Park, featuring a Kidz Korral, personal tubes, tubes for 2-6, and a magic carpet transport to the top of the hill. Located ¼ mile off Ski Run Road off Hwy. 48 in nearby Alto. 575-336-7079.www.ruidoso.net/winterpark .
Horse Riding Stables and Stagecoaches
Equine adventure awaits the young and the old at local horse riding stables and pony centers: Cowboys Riding Stables in Ruidoso Downs AT 1027 Lane near the race track, on Hwy. 70, 575-378-8217; Mescalero Riding Stables, Hwy. 70 west in Mescalero, 575-464-7424; Lincoln County Overland Stagecoach, Hwy. 380 at MM 91, 575-653-4954; carriage and sleigh rides through Upper Canyon in Ruidoso, 575-257-7836. Pony rides at Two Rivers Park in Ruidoso across from Funtrackers on Sudderth Dr.
Mescalero Apache Cultural Center
Located in Mescalero, 20 miles west of Ruidoso on U.S. 70, the Mescalero Apache museum features photo exhibits, basketry and clothing of the three Apache tribes indigenous to this area.
Special events have always been a part of Ruidoso’s year’round appeal. Highlights include the Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium (Oct.), the Golden Aspen Motorcycle Rally (Sept.), the Mountain of Blues Festival (June), the Smokey Bear Stampede (July), the Mescalero Tribal Dances and Rodeo (July), Ruidoso Art Festival (July ), Apsenfest (Oct.), Oktoberfest (Oct.), Art in the Pines (June), Art Loop (July), Zia Art Festival (July), Alto Artists Tour (August), Arts In The Orchard (September), Blooming In June (June), and Festival of Lights (Nov.).
Eagle Ranch Pistachio Grove
N.M.’s first and largest producing pistachio groves. Tours of the operation Mon-Fri @ 1:30 pm Sept.-May. Tours twice a day, Mon-Fri 10 am & 1:30 pm June-Aug. Gift shop-NM wines. 7288 Hwy 54/70 Alamogordo, NM 88310. (800) 432-0999 or (575) 434-0035. Fax (575) 434-2132.
Arts & Shopping