Ruidoso Bucket List: Top 10 Things To Do
Ruidoso Main Street sign bucket list

Planning a trip to Ruidoso, New Mexico, but you aren’t sure what you should do first? No worries! Here’s  a list of the first 10 things you should do on your Ruidoso trip, presented by Cinder Cannabis, supporting a healthy and active lifestyle for all New Mexicans!

We’ll start with finding a place to stay, then get into things to do to help you complete your bucket list. Our suggestions range from the exhilarating to the relaxing, from ziplining to shopping, so there’s something for everyone. Enjoy your Ruidoso trip!

1. Cabin Rentals

Although this one might seem obvious, it must be noted! Number one for planning your Ruidoso trip is finding a place to stay. Staying in a special cabin has the potential to stand out as one of your fondest vacation memories. Depending on the type of getaway you are seeking, the options may seem endless. You can rent a fully furnished cabin, cottage, condo, or an Airbnb suitable for a solo adventure, a couple’s getaway, or with enough space for a large group.

After determining the type of space you want, the next thing to consider is location, location, location! Folks may want to be close to the perfect fishing spot, the slopes near Ski Apache, the casinos, or as secluded as possible.

Las Cruces resident Jessica Chavez recently rented a cabin through Airbnb and had an exceptional experience. “I’ve used them before and I appreciate their system, communication, and reviews you are able to read while making your choice. It is also personal, so you get to communicate with the property owner on any specific questions or needs which provides an additional sense of confidence and security,” she shares.

2. Casinos/Horse Racingphoto of a horse race at the Ruidoso Downs

Whether you are a seasoned gambler or a novice, Ruidoso proves to be suitable for all! Visitors come from other parts of New Mexico — and other states — to gamble at the casinos in Ruidoso or at the races. If you’re traveling from the Las Cruces area, you’ll find Cinder Cannabis located right off Highway 70 at the Sonoma Ranch exit. Stop in and check out their selection of cannabis products and make the most of your Ruidoso trip.

While you’re in Ruidoso you can try your luck at several locations, including a few casinos and a large horse racing track. Ruidoso Downs Racetrack and Casino has come a long way since the informal racetrack was built on empty fields in the 1940s. Back then, bets varied from a bag of oats up to $50,000. Although they no longer accept bets of oats, it is still a blast!

If you fancy the slots and table games, the Downs has an exceptional gambling area. For more trysts with Lady Luck, you can visit the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino and Casino Apache Travel Center in nearby Mescalero.

3. Gondola Ride

Third on your Ruidoso bucket list is to get up close and personal with the Sierra Blanca volcanic mountain range by taking a relaxing ride on the gondola lift at Ski Apache! Located on the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation, the range extends about 40 miles from north to south and 20 miles east to west. Guests can view the stunning Sierra Blanca Peak, which is the highest point in Southern New Mexico at 12,000 feet above sea level.

Rides are open Thursday through Sunday, from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., pending favorable weather conditions. You do not need to make reservations, and each cable car fits up to eight people. Adult riders are $40, while children ages six and older are $30 (with a paid adult ticket). Best of all, kids ages 5 and younger are free!

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4. Ride a Zipline

Feeling daring? Looking to feel the wind in your hair? Riding a zipline is the adrenaline rush you need! Depending on the type of experience you seek, you have zipline options to knock this one off your bucket list. The Apache Eagle ZipRider at the Inn of the Mountain Gods is almost 3,000 feet long, attaining speeds up to 55 mph, and has an affordable price tag of $53 for adult riders and $50 for seniors and children (the minimum age is 10). This zipline offers a special experience, as parallel cables allow two riders to have a shared side-by-side voyage!

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Fly through the air with the greatest of ease — and even more speed! — on the Apache Wind Rider ZipTour at Ski Apache. You will race down the mountain at 60+ mph for a total of 8,890 feet. This zipline is one of the longest in the world with three spans of zipline and optional side-by-side cables. It takes about 1.5 hours to journey through all three lengths. General admission for individuals is $110, but they recommend checking out their website for specials, including family/group pricing.

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5. Shopping District — Midtown

Ruidoso offers a downtown experience for visitors to enjoy — a hub packed with something for everyone! Midtown is a perfect addition to your Ruidoso trip. The area has places to wine and dine, shop, people watch, listen to live music and enjoy the artwork of local artists. You can even hop aboard a horse-drawn carriage and travel along the main strip with a knowledgeable driver providing insider information about the village.

Many Las Cruces residents visit Ruidoso to escape the summer heat or to find winter adventures lacking in the southern part of the state. If you’re one of those folks traveling from Las Cruces for any kind of adventure in Ruidoso, Cinder Cannabis is conveniently located off Highway 70 at the Sonoma Ranch exit. Visit them on your way out of town to see their quality products and great deals.

6. Horseback Riding Adventure

Live out your cowboy and cowgirl dreams (you know you have them. . .) on your Ruidoso trip! Grindstone Stables on Resort Drive makes horseback riding possible for nearly everyone including beginners, families (kiddos 5+), and individuals with special needs. They will pair the horse to the rider’s ability level and can even assign an extra tour guide to help support your group. Reservations are highly recommended, although they do accept walk-ins pending availability. Several road signs you can’t miss along the way will guide you to hit the scenic trails Billy the Kid style with Grindstone Stables!

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7. Wingfield Park

Located at 300 Center Street near Ruidoso’s Midtown district, Wingfield Park offers events and festivals all year long. The most popular event might be the Wingfield Park Market where you can get your hands on locally made or grown products such as artwork, fresh fruit and veggies, and baked goods while listening to live music. You can visit the market on Saturdays from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., typically from June through October. This public park has picnic tables, disc golf, restrooms, a garden, giant musical instruments, a trail dotted with fairies and trolls to discover, and a playground. In winter, check for the ice skating rink! You can also rent it out for private gatherings such as weddings, reunions, and even craft shows.

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8. Lincoln National Forest 

While working on your Ruidoso bucket list, consider taking some time to explore the home of the real-life Smokey Bear who was found in the 1.1 million-acre Lincoln National Forest in 1950. This forest has three major mountain ranges: the Sacramento, Guadalupe, and Capitan (where Smokey was found).

Folks can enjoy a multitude of recreational activities such as camping, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, picnicking, disc golf, sensational wildlife viewing, and more. Before heading out, check fire restrictions and the weather outlook, and pack crucial supplies such as water, sustainable snacks, and a handy map to take along with you. Spending time in the Lincoln National Forest might just be one of the best ways to connect with our majestic natural world.

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9. Flying J RanchGun fight at the Flying J Ranch   

When you hear “cowboy chuckwagon supper with extra helpings encouraged,” you instantaneously want to hear more! The Flying J Ranch, about 10 minutes from Ruidoso in the community of Alto has been “keeping the spirit of the Old West alive since 1982.”  In addition to the chuckwagon barbecue-style dinner that sparked your interest, they also have gunfights, pony rides, a musical stage show, gold panning, cattle roping, and a gift shop to commemorate your experience. Adult tickets are $35 for the all-inclusive evening and discounted rates are available for active military, veterans, and children.

More than a million dinners have been served on the ranch, including brisket, barbecue grilled chicken, cowboy beans, potatoes, applesauce, biscuits, spiced cake, and coffee, tea, or lemonade to wash it all down. For gluten-free cowpokes, the brisket, chicken, beans, potatoes, and applesauce are all good to go!

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10. Monjeau Lookout

Perhaps offering the best view of Lincoln National Forest, Monjeau Lookout is located just north of Ruidoso. The Civilian Conservation Corps initially began the project as a lookout tower for fires. Completion of the 14-by-14-foot stone structure took place in 1940, which includes small living quarters. This unique construction is a popular destination for those seeking an outdoor adventure and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind before you climb the steep trail, which is only a few walking minutes from the parking area. The best time to visit is during the summer months, as the site can be closed in winter due to weather conditions that would make it unsafe. Be aware of summer thunderstorms, though. Additionally, the road to get to the parking area is a bit curvy and rough, so be prepared. Lastly, you will most definitely want to capture this view, so if you have a panoramic camera, bring it along!

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Story by Desiree Bustamantes

Story Sponsored by Cinder Cannabis


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