While summer is one of the most popular times to escape to Ruidoso for a quick getaway, there’s plenty to see and do during the fall! From dramatic sightseeing and cooler temps, to highly anticipated annual events and festivals, here’s four reasons why you should visit Ruidoso in the fall.
1) Special Events
Ruidoso is home to some award-winning event venues and hosts several popular festivals and events each fall! Plan your trip around these exciting events if you’re planning a getaway during the fall!
Aspenfest (Oct. 2) – This annual event features vendors, an autumn parade, great food and drinks, more. Aspenfest unofficially marks the start of fall in the village! Held in and around Ruidoso Midtown, it’s a great way to enjoy the best of Ruidoso in the fall. Find the schedule of events here!
All American Cowboyfest (Sep. 30 – Oct. 3) – Formerly known as the Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium, the reimagined All American Cowboyfest celebrates western culture with chuckwagon cooking, western swing music, and performances by popular country artists including Kevin Fowler and Aaron Watson. This five day event is held at Ruidoso Downs Race Track.
Wild West Mountain Bike Fest (Oct. 16-17) – Hosted by Zia Rides, this mountain biking event combines competition with community. A variety of races for all skill levels will be held over the course of the weekend, and for families and spectators, there will be plenty to do Saturday as well, including games, live music, and more. Wild West Fest will be held at Grindstone Lake Trails and around the village. It’s going to be a fun one this year!
The Haggard Brothers LIVE (Nov. 6) – The award-winning Spencer Theater will play host to many classic movie showings and musicians this fall, including Merle Haggard’s sons, The Haggard Brothers LIVE on November 6th. It will be a night of memories and music that you don’t want to miss. Tickets and information are available on Spencer Theater’s website.
LA ULTIMA BATALLA (THE LAST STAND) (Nov. 20) – An epic showdown awaits at Inn of the Mountain Gods as two of the greatest Mexican boxing legends compete for the title. Get your tickets to see three weight division World Champion Marco Antonio Barrera face-off with two weight class World Champion Daniel Ponce de Leon in this thrilling event.
These events showcase the variety of exciting shows and festivals that are scheduled to take place this fall, but there are plenty more to plan for that we didn’t list. Head to our calendar of events to see a full lineup!
2) Sightseeing & Outdoor Activities
Just because summer is over doesn’t mean the fun stops. In Ruidoso, there’s ALWAYS something to do. These are some of our favorite activities to do and things to see while the seasons change.
See Fall Foliage – Ruidoso is hardly in short supply of fall foliage if you’re here in October or November. Take advantage of the almost endless hiking trails around the area to see the leaves changing, or take a trip up to Ski Apache for a gondola ride over tree tops or ziplining adventure. Nogal Peak and Grindstone Trails are both great places to hike, while Cedar Creek and Grindstone Trails are top spots for mountain biking.
Catch a Rainbow Trout – Grindstone and Alto Lake are a fisherman’s dream! Stocked with several varieties of trout and catfish, you’ll soon find out why fishing is one of the most beloved pastimes in town. Find more information about fishing in Ruidoso here.
Have your camera ready, because you never know when you might see one of our four legged locals.
Spot Local Wildlife – The Lincoln National Forest, and Alto, Ruidoso, and Mescalero, areas are all filled with a variety of local wildlife that will delight and enchant visitors who are lucky enough to see elk, deer, birds, wild horses, or even a bear. Have your camera ready, because you never know when you might see one of our four legged locals. We have a whole post about Ruidoso wildlife for you to enjoy. And remember to be safe and keep your distance when you spot wildlife!
Relax in a Cozy Cabin – Picturesque views and quiet surroundings are a hallmark of our local lodging. Escaping to the mountains doesn’t quite feel complete without a stay in a cozy cabin in the woods, and luckily Ruidoso has plenty of places to rent that will fit your unique requests. Looking for a porch with a view? A hot tub for chilly nights? What about a place close to the action in Midtown? Visit our lodging section to discover which properties will check off all your boxes so you can relax and enjoy the scenery while you’re here.
Which of these activities sound best to you? We’ve got a list of outdoorsy area attractions to peruse so you can continue your search with ease. Just don’t forget to tag #VisitRuidoso so we can tag along on your adventures!
3) Arts & Culture
With such a wide variety of cultural activities to choose from, you just might have to extend your trip to get to them all.
Lincoln County has rich historical roots, a vibrant art scene, and plenty of amazing destinations to add to your itinerary. Find your perfect fit with these local stops that will educate and inspire visitors of all ages.
Fort Stanton State Monument and Museum – Located just a short drive from Ruidoso, Fort Stanton is an old U.S. Army fort, originally established in 1855, that’s full of history. The 12-building parade ground appears much as it did in the mid 1800s, allowing visitors a rare chance to see what life was like in the Old West. Visit their website to plan your visit.
Hurd La Rinconada Gallery – The original home of artists Peter Hurd and his wife Henriette Wyeth-Hurd, Hurd La Rinconada Gallery sits on the family’s ranch in San Patricio, New Mexico where original artwork from the family is displayed and guesthouses are available to rent for overnight guests. Visitors will be truly inspired by the Hurd’s artistry and the wine tasting on site is definitely a bonus. Learn more about the gallery, guesthouses, and tasting room before you go.
Lincoln Historic Site – Walk where infamous outlaw Billy the Kid did at Lincoln Historic Site. The most widely visited state monument in New Mexico, Lincoln Historic Site is frozen in time in the late 1800s. 17 structures and outbuildings make up the site and most are open year round for visitors to enjoy. This is a must-do, in our opinion, and is interesting for the entire family. Add this stop to your list while you’re here!
Smokey Bear Historical Park and Museum – Did you know Smokey Bear originated from nearby Capitan, NM? When Smokey was rescued from a wildfire in 1950 from the Lincoln National Forest, he soon became an iconic American figure and the star of the longest-running ad campaign in the history of the U.S. Here’s what you need to know to visit the museum and historical park established in his honor in Capitan while you’re here.
DJ’s Jewelry – Established in 1999, DJ’s Jewelry is the perfect place to go if you’re looking to find handmade jewelry designed by local artists. Visit this log cabin to shop DJ and Kelly’s designer collection of Native American jewelry in 14k gold and sterling, including precious and semiprecious gemstones and quality domestic turquoise.
Mountain Arts Gallery and Framing – Shop Mountain Arts Gallery’s collection of unique artwork from local artists while you’re in Ruidoso. With nearly floor to ceiling Southwest and Western works of art including pottery, metal wall art, and vibrant prints, you won’t be able to leave without falling in love with their amazing art pieces. Find a list of their artists and view their current selection on their website.
With such a wide variety of cultural activities to choose from, you just might have to extend your trip to get to them all. Our endless entertainment options keep guests coming back again and again, so don’t feel bad if you can’t squeeze everything in. You’ll just have to plan another trip!
4) Good Food
With a full schedule of daily sightseeing and events, you’ll need places to regroup and enjoy a great meal. From southwestern bites to beer and wine tastings, these are some of our Ruidoso Visitors Guide top picks!
Alto Cafe for Breakfast – Head to Northern Ruidoso, just off of Mechem Drive, for a great bite. Homestyle cooking and high praise from patrons make Alto Cafe a must-try for breakfast while you’re here. We suggest a smothered breakfast burrito if you want to really feel like a local and enjoy a delicious, hearty meal to start your day.
Tina’s Cafe for Lunch (or Dinner!) – Often featuring live music during dinner hours, but always serving mouthwatering food anytime of day, Tina’s Cafe is at the intersection of Sudderth and Mechem and now serves tapas… YUM! You definitely need to order something with their green chile cream sauce for a true New Mexico dining experience.
Grill Caliente for Dinner – Southwest dining is here! Grill Caliente has an intimate and relaxing atmosphere that’s perfect for a date night or peaceful meal. Did we mention their patio is amazing, too? You can’t go wrong ordering their Mahi Tacos and trust us, you need to order the apples dessert to take home with you.
There you have it – a full schedule of events, activities, and places to eat to make your trip to Ruidoso a huge success this fall. Pick up our Official Ruidoso Visitors Guide for a detailed look at ALL there is to do around town and streamline your travels. We can’t wait to welcome you to Ruidoso! Tag #VisitRuidoso on social media to share your adventures and we’ll repost!