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There are several things you should not miss if you are in the area. Of course it's difficult to know in a general article what any individual is looking for.
For those who don't know, Ruidoso is the place to be in the summer. It is in the mountains and averages about 20 degrees cooler, day and night, than the surrounding hundreds of miles. Also, you can use Ruidoso as a home base for some great side trips.
You really should not miss White Sands National Monument which is about 70 miles away. It is not cool at White Sands, but you will see some of the most unique and beautiful scenery anywhere both at White Sands and going down and up the mountains to get there.
A longer side trip would be a visit to Carlsbad Caverns. It's always cool in these caverns, but very hot in the surrounding area during the summer. Carlsbad Caverns are about 170 miles from Ruidoso. Be for-warned that the scenery around Carlsbad is very bleak. It's an incredible contrast to the beautiful pine studded mountains.
The trip from Roswell to Ruidoso is also amazing. You go through the beautiful and fascinating Hondo Valley from incredibly bleak desert to cool mountain pine trees. Roswell has it's alien museum for those who are interested in such things. For more traditional travelers, check out the Roswell Art Museum for art and a reconstructed Robert Goddard laboratory.
For an incredible view, drive from Cloudcroft, NM toward Sunspot. Stop at one of the vistas on the way. If you prefer, you can drive all the way to Sunspot, which is the location of the National Solar Observatory. Free tours are given daily at 2:00 PM. You can see a great view anytime by walking to the small hilltop observatories near the larger solar observatory. Of course, take your camera for all of these things.
Check out Spencer Theater in nearby Alto for some big name headliner shows. But be careful, several of the shows are tribute bands rather than the real originals. Read carefully. Spencer Theater is no log cabin. It's a beautiful, modern, $20,000,000 theater surrounded by gloriously beautiful scenery. They have a website, as many of the attractions do.
If you are planning a trip to Ruidoso, and looking for lodging, don't forget to also search in Ruidoso Downs, which is a town that borders Ruidoso. Also, don't forget to search Cloudcroft, which has an excellent lodge, and don't forget to search the Mescalero Apache Reservation which has the beautiful Inn of the Mountain Gods. This Inn costs about $250.00 per night though. Even if you don't lodge at Inn of the Mountain Gods, you should go there for the beautiful views and $12.00 lunch buffet open to everyone.
Check TripAdvisor for hotels and lodges. Shadow Mountain Lodge has an
extra beautiful exterior and landscaping. The photos make it appear
secluded though, which it is not. They also have more hummingbirds than
anywhere. You might consider it, or the Ruidoso Hotel, or the LaQuinta
which is newer.
If you like Casinos, the Apaches have been getting even with the white man for many years at their Casino attached to the Inn of the Mountain Gods. There are also two other casinos within a few miles. Of course there are also the horse races at Ruidoso Downs for those who are interested in that. For many years Ruidoso Downs had the world's richest horse race every year.
The town of Ruidoso is a mixture. Some very wealthy people come here for vacation, or to live in the Alto, NM area. You'll also see bikers and biker chics and struggling artists. Dave McGary has a studio here. He does have statues in the statuary hall in Washington, D.C., so apparently is no longer struggling. His small sculptures sell for about $6,000.00. The two foot tall ones are about $30,000 or $36,000 dollars. Shops on Sudderth drive have everything from multi-thousand dollar art to coyote pelts and elk antlers. It is unique, and for most people, very interesting.
You can buy, and later resell plastic sleds at the gift store at the White Sands National Monument. For what? For you, or kids, or both, to slide down the white gypsum dunes. Also, check out the stars at night. You can stay on the dunes until 10:00 P.M. on evenings with a full moon.
If you are in the Ruidoso area in summer, do not fail to buy some cherry cider at one of the fruit stands or stores along the way.
If you ski, Ski Apache on the Mescalero Apache reservation is said to be a great ski area.
For food, try Cattle Barron or Café Caliente. Casa Blanca is a good choice if you want something cheaper. In the summer, Caliente Café and Casa Blanca have great outdoor dining, however, summer has too many flies in the day, but evening the dining is perfect. There are very few mosquitos.
Ruidoso is almost 7,000 feet in altitude. Sunspot is at 9,200 feet. Sierra Blanca mountain is 12,000 feet. Yes there is an amazing view at Ski Apache all year round. Go and enjoy it!