Wild Ruidoso – A Visitor’s Guide to Enjoying Local Wildlife

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Ruidoso’s scenery is magical, but our local wildlife is the truly enchanting part of our mountain village. Did you know there are over 200 species of birds in Ruidoso? Not to mention the numerous deer, bears, elk, and wild horses that you might find wandering around the Lincoln National Forest or even crossing the street in midtown!

We LOVE our local wildlife and having them for our visitors to experience while they’re here is important to us! Here are some suggestions that will help you see our animals for yourself, enjoy them safely, and protect our area so future guests can see the wildlife for years to come.

Best Places to See Wildlife

BIRDS
We mentioned having over 200 species of birds, which includes 17 unique types of hummingbirds. If you want to go birding while you’re here, visit the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. It’s worth the drive to the wildlife refuge to experience an amazing, family-friendly adventure, which could include seeing over 10,000 Snow Geese at the same time if you’re there in the winter. And don’t miss The Festival of the Cranes in November! If you don’t want to make the drive, you’re sure to see a variety of species around the village, especially hummingbirds! They can be found in Ruidoso from April to October, but May is officially “Hummingbird Month” in Ruidoso.

WILD HORSES
Since the horses are, well, wild, you never know where you might see them! The wild horses travel all over the area, and are frequently spotted in Alto, Gavilan Canyon, and have even been seen in town. There’s even a Facebook group that is dedicated to them! We encourage motorists to stay vigilant when driving around the area as wildlife often cross roads or surprise unexpecting visitors. Keep reading to get informed on other wildlife safety tips that will protect you and our horses!

BEARS, ELK, & DEER – OH MY!
Ruidoso attracts visitors from across the region, many who want to see a bear, watch an elk, or enjoy deer grazing nearby! Remember that these animals are wild and therefore may not be seen around populated areas – especially bears. Deer are more commonly seen and can often be spotted around Carrizozo Canyon Road, Paradise Canyon, and in neighborhoods around town. Elk are also often seen in and around the village, with many guests reporting their presence in nearby Alto, as well as on trails, near golf courses, and even in yards. They’re a beautiful reminder of why New Mexico earned it’s title of “Land of Enchantment!” Just remember that elk will probably not be seen in the summer heat and that mornings and evenings are your best chance of seeing any of our local wildlife!

Safety Tips for Wildlife

  • Don’t feed wild animals
  • Don’t pet wild animals
  • Keep your distance
  • Don’t sneak up on, scare, or provoke wild animals
  • Stay on trails
  • Watch the road
  • Make noise to avoid startling the animals
  • Watch for animal tracks and poop to alert you if an animal is near
  • Let park rangers know if you encounter an animal
  • Use common sense

We hope you see a variety of our beautiful, local wildlife species while you’re in town. There is truly nothing like a majestic elk sighting to make you feel amazed! Plan your next vacation to Ruidoso with the help of the Official Ruidoso Visitor Guide and remember to recreate safely while you’re in town – whether you’re exploring outdoors or sight seeing, we want you to enjoy your experience and keep coming back to see us.