Planning a trip to Ruidoso, New Mexico? This is the ultimate guide to visiting Ruidoso including the best things to do in Rudioso, the best Ruidoso restaurants, and of course the best Ruidoso cabins to stay in during your visit!
This post is sponsored by the Village of Ruidoso. I also received free lodging, meals, and activities from some of the companies mentioned in this post. All opinions and ideas are 100% honest and my own.
While everyone else around the country has been breaking records for snowfall this year, we didn’t see enough snow where we live. So I decided to take my snow loving kiddo to Ruidoso, New Mexico in hopes of a snow-filled weekend adventure.
Ruidoso did not disappoint – in snow or adventure! There are so many fun things to do in Ruidoso NM that it was hard to keep it to just one post! Most of these are things you’ll want to do during the winter months but some work great during summer as well – or just have alternative options for summer!
Best Things to Do in Ruidoso
I’ve put together a quick recap of our weekend along with my list of the best things to do in Ruidoso. Our top Ruidoso NM things to do list includes everything from tubing and skiing for the more adventurous as well as spa days for anyone looking for a bit more mountain relaxation.
1 – Backcountry Attitudes Adventures OHV Tour
Want to really get outdoors? Try hopping in an off-roading buggy with a Backcountry Attitudes OHV Tour. I did a desert version of this when I went to Phoenix last year and as soon as I saw the video, I knew the boys traveling with me would love this adventure.
And I was right! Even my 5-year-old was able to go and loved racing through the outdoors in an OHV vehicle. I called beforehand to let them know we were coming, and they had a booster seat all setup in the back of the OHV vehicle, and they were fantastic getting him fitted with a helmet and gear!
If you like adventure, this is a great option for the whole family and a really fun way to see some of the surrounding area!
Never done an OHV tour before? Backcountry Attitudes offers 2, 3, and 4 hour tours so you can choose what makes the most sense for your experience and adventure level. You can also choose whether to drive your own buggy or have a guide drive it for you. If you have multiple adults, there are breaks during the trip where you can even switch drivers to give everyone a turn!
I recommend driving it yourself – way more fun than being driven around! And as long as you follow the guide, you’ll be totally fine even if you’ve never driven anything other than a car before. It’s definitely one of the most fun outdoor activities out there!
Backcountry Attitudes also offers other outdoor adventures like guided mountain biking tours and water rentals when it’s warm enough for the water. After our experience with their guides and team, I’d highly recommend trying out anything from their team!
2 – Spa Day at the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort
While the boys were having their outdoor adventure, I was having an adventure of my own at the brand new spa at the Inn of the Mountain Gods.
I only had time for a massage but wish I’d had more time to take advantage of the relaxation area, hot tub, and other amenities that are free of use for spa guests. It’s a beautiful place with great amenities!
The massage itself was wonderful and exactly what this tired pregnant mom ordered. The therapist communicated just enough without being overly chatty and made the prenatal massage relaxing and soothing without ever being uncomfortable. Next time I want to try out one of their more unique services like the tranquil body cocoon body treatment!
3 – Ruidoso Winter Park Tubing
One of the most family-friendly and budget friendly activities we did all weekend was tubing at Ruidoso Winter Park. It’s a park setup specifically for snow tubing and a great place for kids – especially if you’re spoiled like my kiddo and have a dad who pulls you everywhere in the tube.
For everyone else, you’ll be doing a good bit of walking from the end of the tubing runs to the bottom of the hill where they have stand-up conveyor belts to take you to the top of the snow hills. It’s exhausting but really fun for all ages and one of the top things on our list, especially if you can find a less crowded day!
A couple of tips for your visit.
- Check the height restrictions on the website before you go. There are height limits for their small kids corral as well as the hills.
- Go close to when they open, they tend to get busier as the day goes on and the lines can get long.
- Ask to do tubing trains – way more fun than just tubing down the hill on your own.
- You can’t take vinyl tubes on some of the lifts/runs – make sure you know which tube you grab before you head to the hill.
- If you’re going on a cold day, they also rent out heated VIP igloos that come with pizza, lift tickets, and more.
- The website shows and advertises large family tubes that hold up to six people at once. These are not available all the time, only when the weather allows and so far this season, they haven’t been available yet. I wouldn’t get your hopes up on those!
Ruidoso Winter Park also has a small zip line that’s available on when the weather cooperates. It was too cold and windy while we were there to try it out, but when we drove by on Sunday, it looked like people were doing it with smiles on their face!
4 – Ski Apache Ruidoso
One of my absolute favorite parts of our entire trip was getting up on the slopes. Okay fine, I personally didn’t get to go down any slopes because I was pregnant, but I was able to watch my kiddo put on skis for the first time and roll around in the snow in delight at the Ski Apache ski resort.
Seriously. He was so excited about the snow he dove right in after his ski lesson was over.
Ski Apache is the only place for Ruidoso skiing, and it totally delivers. It’s a gorgeous 45 minute drive from downtown Ruidoso and pretty much straight up the mountain. And while it may not be the best skiing we’ve ever done (I mean we’ve skied in Switzerland), it was pretty great.
We went a day after it snowed and both my brothers said the actual slopes were great with powder that was ideal for snowboarding. And with everything from bunny hills to black diamond runs through the trees, there’s something for everyone – both skiers and snowboarders – making it perfect for a family vacation!
While my brothers were snowboarding down the mountain, my husband and kiddo took their very first ski lesson. The instructor was fantastic and had my son skiing down the practice slope by the end of the hour lesson. Watching him ski might’ve been my favorite moment of the weekend.
That or riding the Ski Apache gondola to the top of the mountain to just play in the snow. But I’m pretty sure playing in the snow beat out the gondola rides as one of the most popular activities he did all weekend.
If you book lift tickets online ahead of time, you can save a few bucks! Or if you only want to do a half-day on the slopes, Ski Apache offers a half-day ticket that starts at 1:00PM for a bit lower cost. Just be prepared for the crowds; things were pretty light when we arrived Sunday morning and packed up quickly as the 1PM time approached.
5 – Midtown Ruidoso Shopping
Have some extra time on your hands? The midtown Ruidoso shopping district is full of cute boutiques, bakeries, art galleries, and speciality stores and totally worth spending a few hours exploring.
There’s public parking available along the street as well as behind many of the stores. Park at the top or bottom of the street and leisurely shop, taste, and marvel at the beautiful art and handmade items.
Oh and if you need a pair of my favorite travel shoes, they have a store for those too!
6 – Picnic at Grindstone Lake
Just a few minutes from downtown Ruidoso and the Elk Run Cabins (my recommended choice of lodging) is Grindstone Lake. We went the day after it snowed so the lake was rimmed with snow (and ducks!) but still glinted beautifully in the sunset. If it hadn’t been so cold, we probably would’ve brought along our eats from Cornerstone Bakery and picnicked along the shore.
7 – Hike near Grindstone Lake (or take a day trip)
With its location so close to other attractions, even if you don’t want to picnic – it’s worth a quick stop just to see. Or make an afternoon of it and go for a beautiful hike after your picnic. There are miles of trails to explore.
Ruidoso is also really close to a number of incredible national parks and landmarks like White Sands National Monument, the Valley of Fires, and Fort Stanton Historical Site. There are a ton of great attraction options if you want to get outside during summer months (or during the winter).
8 – Eat at a delicious restaurant
With the exception of one meal, all of the Ruidoso restaurants we tried were both unique and delicious. So good in fact that I wrote an entire post about the best Ruidoso restaurants!
You can check out all of the best restaurants in Ruidoso NM here.
9 – Stay in a mountain cabin
There are plenty of Ruidoso hotels but if you’re headed to the mountains, why not enjoy a more authentic outdoor experience and stay in one of the many Ruidoso cabins available!
We stayed in Elk Run Cabins and not only were they beautifully decorated and super cozy inside, they were perfectly located just a few minutes from all of the main attractions in Ruidoso and one of the best vacation rentals we saw!
One of the best parts about Elk Run Cabins is that they actually have three different units that you can rent separately for smaller groups or rent together for larger parties. We brought my two brothers along for the trip, so we ended up booking both their two-bedroom unit and their one-bedroom unit.
Renting both units gave us the chance to spread out a bit and gave everyone their own private bedroom – so important after an exhausting day on the slopes!
While the cabins aren’t huge or luxury cabins, they’re great for families and the owners really went above and beyond with the details. The cabins were updated just a few months ago and you can totally tell! Just a few of the highlights:
- Numerous heaters throughout the house including one in the bathroom to keep you warm after hopping out of the shower
- Roku systems with each of the TVs so we could hook up and watch Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other movies
- Individually designed cabins – ours was an elk theme and my brothers’ was a bear theme
- All the dishes and amenities you could think of were provided
- Sofa bed in the living room of the 2-bedroom so you could technically sleep up to six guests
- An entryway to take off shoes and wet clothes
More Fun things to do in Ruidoso
While we didn’t get a chance to try these out, these would be on my list of things to do next time we head to Ruidoso with our family! These were on my list of things to do in Ruidoso but weren’t open or didn’t work timing wise – so next time it is!
- Sleigh rides at Grindstone Stables that go up through the canyon
- Watch a show or musical performance at Spencer Theater for the performing arts
- Horseback ride at any of the stables – I’d really love to do any of the trail rides
- Explore the Lincoln National Forest that’s only 15 minutes outside of Ruidoso
- Enjoy one of the scenic drives through the mountains (instead of rushing through to get to a lesson)
How to Get to Ruidoso New Mexico
Ready to book your trip? You can either drive to Ruidoso (you’ll want a car for getting around regardless of if you fly or drive) or fly into one of these three airports!
- Roswell – direct flights from Dallas and Phoenix (woohoo!), 90 minutes from Ruidoso
- El Paso – about 2 ½ hours from Ruidoso, more non-stop flight options
- Albuquerque – just under 3 hours from Ruidoso, many more non-stop flight options
I also mentioned you’ll need a car to get around. I highly recommend if you’re coming during the winter time and snow may be in the forecast that you get a car with 4WD. I just called ahead of time to make sure one was available and my rental car company had it all setup when I arrived.
Ruidoso, New Mexico is in southern New Mexico in the United States, about a 3-hour drive from Albuquerque, close to the Sierra Blanca Mountains. It’s a fairly small town full of gorgeous mountain views, hiking trails, and skiing.
If you like the great outdoors, Ruidoso is a wonderful place to visit. With beautiful lakes, snow covered mountains, and plenty of hiking trails around, it’s the perfect place for a family vacation. Plus, it’s open year round with different things to do during each season, so it’s definitely worth visiting!
Ruidoso has snow for a good portion of the year, which means that there’s some great skiing and tubing during the winter months!
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