Things to Do in Ruidoso, New Mexico, NM

Where is Ruidoso New Mexico, NM

This picturesque village of Ruidoso in central New Mexico is found in the Sierra Blanca Mountain Range. About a three- and half-hour drive south of Albuquerque, Ruidoso is a lovely place to visit if you are planning a vacation soon. And there are so many things to do in Ruidoso NM you’ll wonder why you never visited. 

Population of Ruidoso NM

Although it is still considered a relatively small village by almost any standard, Ruidoso has seen a slight rise in population since 2016. As of the most recent census in 2018, Ruidoso has a population of 7,848 people. If you are looking for a place with a small-town feel, but with plenty of activities and amenities to enjoy, Ruidoso has got it all. 

Weather in Ruidoso NM

If you plan to visit Ruidoso, New Mexico for snow-related activities like snowboarding or skiing, you will want to schedule the trip for some time between December and April, which is the earliest and latest months for expected snowfall. From the coldest months to the warmest, the temperature can be anywhere from 28°F to 81°F. You will want to pack sweaters, gloves, hats, and jackets in the cold months, but overall, the weather is fairly mild. 

Best Time to Visit

What time of year you decide to visit Ruidoso, New Mexico really depends on what sort of fun activities you plan to engage in. We will discuss these activities in more detail further on, but suffice it to say that there is something for everyone in this quaint village. That is particularly true for nature-lovers. If you enjoy winter activities, you should consider the months of December, January, March, and April, since this is when you can expect the most snowfall. These are the prime months for skiing, snowboarding, ice fishing, tubing, or holiday events. 

Ruidoso, New Mexico
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

On the other hand, if you’re looking for something more along the lines of fishing or hiking, you may want to consider the months from late May, June, July, August, September. During these months the average temperature is around 74°F, so you can enjoy the great outdoors in fairly mild weather.

There are also a huge variety of events and festivals to attend all throughout the year in Ruidoso. You can find the calendars for these events with a simple google search, since many of the schedules vary from year to year. Depending on when you visit, you could find anything from the Art in the Park Festival, to the All American Country Music Festival. There is so much things to do in Ruidoso that there really isn’t a wrong time to visit. 


Camping in Ruidoso NM

There is plenty of space for campers of all types in Ruidoso, NM. Whether you prefer to live off of the land on a primitive site in the woods, or relax in luxurious comfort while glamping in your 40 ft RV, there is a place for you around Ruidoso. So, if you’re looking for what to do in Ruidoso NM, this should answer your question. 

Dispersed, or “roadside”, camping is allowed in certain areas of Lincoln National Forest around Ruidoso. It is important to note that RVs are only allowed to park and camp no further than 300 feet from designated roads within the national forest. Visitors can find a map detailing which roads are authorized for camping in Ruidoso city official offices. 

If you are visiting Silver Lake on the Mescalero Apache reservation, there are 55 sites for primitive tents and RVs spread out over 200 acres for you to enjoy. Silver Lake offers daily fishing licenses, hiking, and horseback riding. 

Grindstone Lake Campground is a fairly new campground with 22 tent sites and 6 RV sites to accommodate campers that want to stay on the lake. Grindstone Lake Campground offers public restrooms and showers. 

Bonito Lake Camping

If you are looking for good fishing, tranquil camping, and breathtaking scenery, consider a visit to Bonito Lake. Surrounded by the Lincoln National Forest without actually being a part of it, Bonito Lake is a high elevation alpine reserve full of trout, and surrounded by nature. In 2012, the lake was severely damaged by the ash from Little Bear fire, and crews have spent years restoring it to a usable condition.

Bonito Lake
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

The process was expected to be complete by 2020, so be sure to contact the local authorities to ensure that the campground has reopened, or for some comparable alternative camping and fishing locations in the Ruidoso area. Bonito Lake is found off of Forest Service Road 107/Bonito Lake Road, but you can consult your GPS for directions from your specific location. 

Bonito lake open for fishing

Due to the Little Bear fire in 2015, Bonito Lake was closed to the public. Crews have been actively working to clear the soot and debris from the water so that fish can be reintroduced and the lake will be safe for visitors. The last reported estimate for completion was sometime in mid-2020. Please be patient and understanding while the officials work hard to repair Bonito Lake and make it a sustainable environment once again. 


Fishing in Ruidoso NM

Ruidoso is surrounded by quiet, scenic lakes and streams that provide some of the most relaxing fishing spots available. The high altitude means that most of the water stays fairly cold all year long, so the trout thrive particularly well. Some of the lakes, like Alto Lake for example, are stocked with both trout and catfish. So if you’re looking for fun things  to do in Ruidoso or 

Bonito Lake is fed by Bonito Creek which runs down from further up the mountain. In the upper parts of the creek you can find rainbow trout and brook trout. This creek does have a catch and release policy though, because this helps to maintain a sustainable ecosystem, otherwise the trout would quickly be over-fished and unable to keep up the population. 

The Rio Ruidoso River is stocked all year round with rainbow and brown trout. This river runs down from high up in the Sacramento Mountains, and continues on to Hondo. If you prefer fishing a river rather than a lake, the Rio Ruidoso River is a peaceful and lovely option. Looking for thigns to do in Ruidoso this weekend? Look no more! 

Alto Lake

If you are looking for a lake that offers natural beauty, peaceful tranquility, and a few amenities for picnickers, Alto Lake has everything you need. The roughly half-mile trail that surrounds the lake has picnic tables and benches that are available on a first-come-first-serve basis. There are also another two miles of trails starting near the dam that leads to the bridge crossings and more spots for picnicking, as well as the breathtaking waterfalls. This is one of the top Ruidoso attractions as you can imagine. Hanging out here can also be one of the most romantic thing to do in Ruidoso NM. 

Alto Lake
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

The full Alto Lake fishing report can be found online, but the lakes around Ruidoso are stocked regularly. Alto Lake specifically is stocked with trout and catfish, and is considered sustainable for fish at this point. Alto Lake can be accessed from either Lake Shore Drive or Gavilan Canyon Road. Consult your GPS for directions to Alto Lake from your specific location. 

If you are planning to visit Ruidoso, New Mexico, be sure to spend a day at Alto Lake. Bring your fishing gear and a picnic, and you’ll find a delightful spot to relax and enjoy the sight and sounds of nature. 

Other fishing places

The Ruidoso area has no shortage of fishing spots. So if you are looking for places to visit in Ruidoso this weekend, then some of these places should be on your list. These include the Grindstone Reservoir, Tularosa Creek, Eagle Lakes, and Silver Lake. Fishing licenses are required for more fishing activities, so be sure to look into that before you get started. Many of the lakes and rivers have their own specific regulations regarding catch-and-release, boating, and other general rules. Make sure that you know the rules and regulations for the spot that you choose, so that you can relax and enjoy yourself. 


Skiing in Ruidoso NM

There are several ski locations in Ruidoso, New Mexico. The mountains offer plenty of options for all skill levels, from beginner to expert. The season begins in November, and usually lasts until April, so there is plenty of time throughout the year for you to get out there and hit the slopes. Even if you don’t ski, seeing others skiing is of the top things to see in Ruidoso. 

Ski Apache

Ski Apache is more than just a slope to ski on, Ski Apache is a ski resort with something to offer everyone. You’ll find the third longest zipline in the world, for 11,489 feet of thrilling fun. Ski Apache offers lessons for beginners so they can get some expert-level instruction so they can get up and there and ski like a pro. When you first arrive at Ski Apache, it might be a good idea to take a ride on the lift, or gondola, so that you can take in the incredible view of Sierra Blanca Peak, and also get a look at the whole resort. Tickets are $25 for children, $35 for adults, and children under 5 years old ride for free.


Ski Apache is located at 1286 Ski Run Road Alto, New Mexico 88312. Ski Run Road is found off of Mecham Drive. If you are visiting the area for the first time, consult your GPS for specific directions, but also be sure to visit the website for more information. 

Ski Apache offers luxurious lodging at their inn, Inn of the Mountain Gods, which has access to various restaurants, a 24-hour casino, a modern workout room, a luxury spa, and much more. The inn also has access to various outdoor activities like skeet shooting, horseback riding, fishing, and an 18-hole golf course.

Ski Apache has received overwhelmingly positive reviews, with nearly 2,000 reviews and 4.4 out of 5 stars on Google. Other sites like Yelp or various blogs and review sites also consistently give the resort high praise. With year-round fun for the whole family, every amenity you could ask for, and a location on one of the most beautiful and scenic locations you could ask for, it is no wonder people are raving about Ski Apache.

Other Skiing Places

There are many places to hit the slopes in Ruidoso, NM. Ski Apache may the most prominent ski resort in the area, but don’t sell the other available spots short. 

Ski Ruidoso Ski Shop: Their motto is “Not the biggest, just the best.” This smaller shop has been serving the Ruidoso area for 35 years. They offer group rates, and promise to match any price in town. They are also one of top places to see in New Mexico. We consider it a local attraction worth your time. 

Action Ski and Snowboard: This is the first ski shop you will see on your right as you come in through Texas. They are conveniently located near several hotels on HWY 70, and they are open until 7PM, but they are willing to wait for you if you call ahead and tell them you will be arriving a little late. 

Alto Ski Shop: This is the last shop you will see before hitting the slopes, so the location is very convenient if you don’t want to lug those skis all over town. They have someone there to give you personalized service and expert advice if you need help, and they offer a special discount if you mention that you saw them on the web. 

Other Best Things to do in Ruidoso NM

Ruidoso has no shortage of fun and thrilling activities and attractions, so never expect a dull moment after you arrive. There is kayaking, fishing, hiking, skiing, horseback riding, and wildlife watching. You could ride a zip line and get an amazing aerial view of the area. 

1. White Oaks Ghost Town

Make a trip to White Oaks Ghost Town and experience the past, and maybe get a little spooked while you’re at it. You can learn the history of this unusual old-west town, and visit some of the important landmarks there like the Cedarvale Cemetery and the No Scum Allowed Saloon. We think visiting here is one of best things to do in Ruidoso.

2. Spencer Theatre

With a mission to enrich the cultural lives of the residents of New Mexico, this theatre offers world-class performances of plays, music, and dance. There are 514 seats in the hall, and brilliant acoustics, so you will feel the excitement and majesty of every performance. 

Zip Lining

3. Zip Lining

There are actually multiple zip lines around Ruidoso, so be sure to try them all. The two biggest are found in Ski Apache and Ruidoso Winter Park. The zip lines are open for the whole ski season, so don’t miss out on a chance to see the Ruidoso area from a birds-eye view.  This is one of the most fun things to do in Ruidoso and New Mexico as a whole. Ane we dare say, zip lining will make the list of top things to do in New Mexico as a state. 

4. Cabin Rentals – Ruidoso Cabins

There are cozy cabin rentals available around Ruidoso, so you can spend your time in a tranquil spot surrounded by nature. These serene little cabins will take you back to a simpler time during your visit to Ruidoso. Check out Whispering Pine Cabins, Ruidoso Lodge Cabins, Hummingbird Cabins, or Mountain Air Cabins for more information. So if you need something different to do here, then getting a cabin in Ruidoso NM will be ideal. Renting a cabin here is one of the local attractions that you should do with your kids. 

There is so much to do in Ruidoso that it would be difficult to list it all in one article. Visit in the winter and the warmer months and you will find more activities than you could pack into one trip. 

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Comment