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The 10 Best Things to Do in Southern New Mexico

Families, art-enthusiasts, couples, outdoor adventurers, and many more will find something to appreciate on a visit to any of New Mexico’s best southern attractions. From casino gaming to alien-themed museums, and rolling white sand dunes to hidden caverns, check out our list of the best things to do in southern New Mexico!

Ski Apache

woman snowboarding down slope

Where: 1286 Ski Run Road, Alto

Contact: (575) 464-3600

Ski Apache is southern New Mexico’s top destination for snow skiing and snowboarding. Located at the alpine peak of majestic Sierra Blanca, this premier New Mexico ski and snowboard resort offers some of the best warm-weather powder skiing in the world. The resort features slopes for all skill levels, bump runs, a terrain park, and a bowl.

No skis? No problem. Ski equipment rentals are available for all ages. Ski Apache also offers lessons, dining options, and the only eight-person gondola in New Mexico that takes you to the top of Sierra Blanca. Learn more about the best time to ski in New Mexico at Ski Apache and how to make the most of your New Mexico winter vacation. The park is also open during the warmer months for hiking, biking, and ziplining.

Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & Casino

riders on the apache eagle ziprider

Where: 287, Carrizo Canyon Road, Mescalero

Fishing. Ziplining. Concerts. Oh my! Those are just some of the things to do at the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & Casino. Nestled among the lush mountain peaks on the Mescalero Apache Reservation in beautiful Mescalero, New Mexico, Inn of the Mountain Gods has remained a favorite among travelers visiting southern New Mexico, whether it be for a weekend trip, a week-long vacation, or just to pass-through for some of the best casino gaming in New Mexico

Below are just a few of our favorite things to do in southern New Mexico that can be enjoyed at Inn of the Mountain Gods:

Best of all, when you stay at our hotel near Ruidoso, you’re just steps from all of the fun! See everything our New Mexico resort has to offer.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

carlsbad caverns in southern new mexico

Where: 727 Carlsbad Caverns Highway, Carlsbad

Contact: (575) 785-2232

Carlsbad Caverns National Park is home to 119 caverns that lay beneath the Chihuahuan Desert’s surface. Once referred to as “the Grand Canyon with a roof over it” by famous actor Will Rogers, Carlsbad Caverns is truly a sight to behold. Visitors can experience the caverns via two trails with each hike taking over an hour to trek.

The Big Room Trail is home to a variety of stunning cave formations and is a relatively flat path. The Natural Entrance Trail is very steep, but you’ll get to see famous formations like Iceberg Rock and the Whale’s Mouth on this trail. Ranger-guided tours are also offered.

Outside of the caverns, the national park has a visitor center, hiking trails, and the Bat Flight Program where visitors can learn about the Brazilian free-tailed bats that call Carlsbad Caverns home and enjoy a spectacle each evening from late May through October of bats exiting the caverns.

Roswell, New Mexico

3D rendering of UFO

Just a quick day trip from Inn of the Mountain Gods, Roswell, New Mexico is the perfect place to learn about cowboys, artists, and aliens!

Visitors will find plenty of alien-themed museums and shops to feed any out-of-this-world appetites. The fifth-largest New Mexico city is also home to many outdoor recreation areas, art museums, the Roswell Invaders minor league baseball team, magnificent state parks, and the Spring River Zoo.

White Sands National Park

soaptree yucca plant at white sands national park

Where: Located off of Highway US-70 between the cities of Alamogordo and Las Cruces between mile markers 199 and 200

Contact: (575) 479-6124

Encompassing 275 miles of desert, White Sands National Park is the world’s largest gypsum dune field. Listed as a national monument in 1933, the rolling white sand dunes are truly a sight to behold. You can hike, bike, sled the dunes, drive the dunes, or attend a ranger program during your visit.

Sledding the dunes is a treat for all ages and is a common sight at the park. Snow saucers for sledding are available at the park’s gift shop.

Nearby is the White Sands Missile Range Museum, home to a collection of missiles and rockets that encompass several periods in United States and New Mexico history, including the Cold War and the Manhattan Project. Call (575) 678-3358 for more information about the White Sands Missile Range Museum.

Flying J Ranch

old wagon wheel and sunset

Where: 1028 NM-48, Alto

Contact: (575) 336-4330

Step back in time to a period of hearty chuckwagon suppers, old west showdowns, and toe-tapping western music at Flying J Ranch. One of the best things to do in New Mexico, let alone southern New Mexico, Flying J Ranch is open during the summer evenings through Labor Day. This family-friendly old west showcase features tons of attractions and activities for all ages, including cattle roping, pony rides, gold panning, and an old west town complete with a sheriff’s office, gift shops, and blacksmith.

Smokey Bear Historical Park

Where: 118 Smokey Bear Boulevard, Capitan

Contact: (575) 354-2748

Smokey Bear Historical Park is a fantastic educational option for anyone visiting southern New Mexico. Learn about the origins of the original Smokey Bear and the fascinating history and science behind wildfires and wildfire prevention, forest health, and fire ecology. The park also hosts Junior Ranger and Little Ranger programs for kids to learn about fire safety, get souvenirs, and become official rangers.

Visit Midtown Ruidoso

midtown ruidoso mural

Just minutes from Inn of the Mountain Gods, Midtown Ruidoso is famous for its boutiques, wineries, brewpubs, art, and cafes. It’s on Main Street where travelers can stroll from boutique to vintage shop and burger joint to brewpub. Midtown is also where you’ll find plenty of live music spots, the Midtown Gallery Walk, Ruidoso’s public murals, and plenty to do with the kiddos, including frozen yogurt and souvenir shops. Get the full list of things to do near Ruidoso!

The Valley of Fires Recreation Area

valley of fire new mexico

Where: 6158 US-380, Carrizozo

Contact: (575) 627-0272

Thousands of years ago, molten rock filled the Tularosa Basin after the eruption of Little Black Peak. Now, the hardened lava flow covers 125 square miles, is 160 feet thick, is four to six miles wide, and is waiting to be explored by travelers.

The Malpais Nature Trail at Valley of Fires Recreation Area is a fully accessible, paved trail that leads you straight to the lava flow. Along the trail, you may encounter a variety of animals like mule deer, roadrunners, and lizards, and several species of birds ranging from gnat catchers and cactus wrens to turkey vultures and golden eagles. Plant life is abundant, with a variety of plants that are native to the Chihuahuan desert.

Billy the Kid Scenic Byway

Courthouse in Lincoln, New Mexico.

Where: Visitor’s center is located at 26305 US-70, Ruidoso Downs

Contact: (575) 378-5318

Billy the Kid Scenic Byway is more than just a highway. You’re put in the middle of old west history where famous names like Kit Carson, “Black Jack” Pershing, and the man himself, Billy the Kid trekked. Stops include Lincoln, one of the most historic old west towns in New Mexico, Fort Stanton, Capitan, and Ruidoso. Billy the Kid Scenic Byway is truly one of the most immersive things to do in southern New Mexico.

Inn of the Mountain Gods guests can start in Ruidoso Downs, the location of the Billy the Kid National Scenic Byway Visitors Center and head east towards Hondo, before traveling northwest towards Lincoln. In all, the trip takes roughly 1.5 to 2 hours to complete. We suggest making time to explore some of the landmarks.



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