Outdoor Activities

Bird Watching in Ruidoso, NM

Locally, Upper Canyon alongside the Rio Ruidoso in Ruidoso, Mescalero Lake at Inn of the Mountain Gods, Rio Bonito and Baca Campground in Lincoln, the Capitan Water Treatment Ponds at Helen Hinch Memorial Park, and Three Rivers Petroglyph National Recreation Site are all reliable bird watching locations. Those willing to make the two-hour drive to San Antonio, NM won’t be disappointed by the bird watching opportunities available at the nationally renowned Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge on the Rio Grande.


If birding is on your agenda while in Ruidoso, prepare yourself ahead of time by purchasing a regional field guide, quality binoculars, and a reliable, durable camera with a good zoom lens. Familiarize yourself with the species you might see, from what they look and sound like to how they camouflage themselves in their habitats. 


Throughout the year the Lincoln County Bird Club offers lectures, presentations, film showings, and social activities dedicated to promoting environmental health and public awareness about the area’s wildlife. The group also sponsors environmental improvement and outreach projects and field trips to local birding sites. For additional information about the Lincoln County Bird Club as well as information about and directions to the birding locations listed above, visit www.lincolncountybirdclub.com, email info@lincolncountybirdclub.com, or call (575) 415-4554. 


Fishing in Ruidoso, NM

The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish asks fishermen to catch and release and use barbless hooks, as both help the region’s fish populations grow larger.




All persons 12 and older must have a current New Mexico fishing license. Half-day, full-day, and yearly fishing licenses (issued for a April 1 through March 31 year) are available at Wal-Mart on Hwy 70 and Western Auto on Mechem Drive. While fishing licenses are not required on the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation, daily permits must be purchased on site.


Alto Lake has been stocked with catfish and will eventually be stocked with trout as well. 


Bonito Lake is currently closed because of the Little Bear Fire and isn’t expected to reopen until 2017.


The upper portion of Bonito Creek feeds Bonito Lake from the mountains, while the lower portion of Bonito Creek runs from the Bonito Lake Dam to Fort Stanton and Hondo. Fishermen can fish for rainbow and brook trout in the upper portion of the creek and should practice catch and release.


Carrizo Creek runs from the Mescalero Lake Dam into the Rio Ruidoso and is home to a large number of native brown trout. Because Carrizo Creek serves as the area’s hatchery and nursery for brown trout, fisherman should use barbless hooks, handle all fish carefully, and practice catch and release.


Eagle Creek is fed by both springs and mountain runoff and follows Hwy 532 along Ski Run road. Though the creek is not stocked and therefore fish are not plentiful, the water does contain some brook and rainbow trout.


Grindstone Reservoir is less than two miles from Ruidoso and welcomes fisherman year round. Fishing hours are from sunrise until 10pm during the summer months, and non-motorized boats are allowed between April 1 and October 31. (Permits are required and can be obtained from the Ruidoso Parks and Recreation office at 535 Resort Drive.) The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish frequently stocks this lake with trout, some of which have grown fairly large.


The Rio Ruidoso River runs from high in the Sacramento Mountains through Upper Canyon and on to Hondo and is regularly stocked with rainbow and brown trout.


Tularosa Creek begins to flow at the edge of the Mescalero Indian Reservation and runs for several miles. It is open to fishermen year round and is regularly stocked by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. 




Mescalero Lake is located on the grounds of the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort. Stocked with more than 20,000 trout annually, this beautiful lake welcomes fisherman from sunrise to sunset year round. Permits are required and can be purchased for $18 at the pool desk. 


Eagle Lakes can be found three and a half miles up Ski Run Road off Hwy 48. The two lakes are stocked regularly and open to fishermen from late May through mid September. Daily fishing permits are required and can be purchased at the office at the entrance to the lakes.


Though the Rio Ruidoso River eventually runs through Ruidoso, it begins within the boundaries of the Mescalero Reservation. The upper portion of the river is regularly stocked with rainbow trout and open to fishermen from May through September. Permits are required and can be purchased at the reservation line. 


Nestled in the southern portion of the Mescalero Reservation, Silver Lake is a peaceful spot for fishermen to catch stocked trout between May and September. Daily permits are required and can be purchased at the Silver Lake office.  




Seeping Springs Trout Lake is a spring-fed, ½ acre lake located four miles east of Ruidoso Downs Racetrack. The lake is fully stocked with rainbow trout and open to fishermen year round, from 9am until 6pm between Memorial Day and Labor Day and by appointment throughout the rest of the year. Neither permits nor fishing licenses are required. For more information visit sleepingspringsfishing.com.


The Ranch Sosegado Trout Pond, located 24 miles west of Ruidoso in Bent, is open every weekend and by appointment on weekdays; call (575) 671-4580 to schedule an appointment. Neither permits nor fishing licenses are required.


Additional information about and directions to these fishing hot spots can be found here (http://www.ruidoso.net/visitor-information/outdoors/fishing). Weekly stocking report can be found here (www.wildlife.state.nm.us/fishing/weekly-report).




Hiking in Ruidoso, NM

Looking for a hiking trail? You’ve come to the right place!


The Grindstone Trail System is an 18-mile, multi-use trail located just a short distance from Midtown Ruidoso. The trail loops from Grindstone Lake up to Grindstone Mesa, and can be enjoyed on foot, mountain bike, or horseback. Parking and restrooms are available. 


Hundreds of miles of multi-use hiking trails can be found within the Lincoln National Forest http://www.fs.usda.gov/lincoln/ 

Sacramento Ranger District

Located near the Village of Cloudcroft, the Sacramento RD covers nearly 548,865 acres of mountains, forests, and meadows. The majority of its trails are considered “day hiking” trails, meaning they can be hiked – or at least portions of them can be hiked – with one day. Popular trails include Osha Trail, La Pasada Encantata, the Trestle Recreation Trails, and the Haynes Canyon Vista Trail.



Guadalupe Ranger District

Located in Carlsbad, the Guadalupe RD covers 288,540 acres of rolling hills and canyons. Similarly to the Sacramento RD, the majority of the Guadalupe RD’s trails are appropriate for day hikes. The most popular trails are Last Chance Canyon Trail, Rim Road, and the short loops surrounding the Sitting Bull Falls Recreation site.


Smokey Bear Ranger District

The Smokey Bear Ranger District, which is the closest Lincoln National Forest district to Ruidoso, covers nearly 423,416 acres of deserts and mountain slopes. Two protected wilderness areas – White Mountain Wilderness and Capitan Mountains Wilderness – fall within the district’s boundaries, and have well-developed, well-maintained trail systems that hikers of all ages and ability levels can enjoy.


The Fort Stanton-Snowy River Cave National Conservation Area is home to 93 miles of trails available for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. These trails meander through meadows and canyons, and generously gifts those who wander with beautiful views of both forests and mountains. The Petroglyph Trail along the Rio Bonita is a favorite, as midway through the hike is Petroglyph Rock – etched upon which are depictions of the ancient people – in the riverbed. 


Ski Apache offers three hiking trails of varying distances and difficulty levels. For a quick, easy walk, try the ¼ mile Lookout Trail. This trail begins near the top of Ski Apache (which can be reached by Gondola) and ends at Lookout Point, where hikers will be treated to 360-degree views of the surrounding area. For a more difficult climb, hikers will enjoy the Crest and Sierra Blanca Trails on Ski Apache. Three miles and 2.5 miles respectively, these trails can take a full day to hike up or down (the Gondola can take hikers in the opposite direction).


Regardless of where you choose to hike, be prepared. Pack and carry a backpack stocked with water, snacks, and sunscreen. Bring a map and an extra layer of clothing, and make sure someone knows where you’re going and when you expect to return.


The Smokey Bear Ranger Station (901 Mechem Drive) and Ruidoso Visitor Center (720 Sudderth Drive), both in Ruidoso, have hiking maps available. Additional information about as well as direction to these hiking trails can be found here (http://ruidoso.net/visitor-information/outdoors/hiking/trailheads).


Mountain Biking

Rim Trail, widely considered a top 10 trail in the country by experienced mountain bikers, begins south of Ruidoso near the Village of Cloudcroft and comes complete with spectacular view of the White Sands throughout its first two miles.


Cedar Creek Spaghetti Bowl offers a unique opportunity for mountain bikers, as the site includes multiple trails of varying distances and difficulty levels, all of which start and end in the bowl.


The Philadelphia, Kraut, and Littleton Canyon Trails, which roam up and down through Lincoln National Forest, begin on old mining roads and eventually turn into single-track trails. Perk Canyon, a favorite of locals and tourists, weaves through both town and wooded areas, crosses a stream several times, opens up into a meadow, and during the rainy season, passes a pond in Upper Canyon.


Ski Apache offers two interesting biking options. The first, a 12-mile climb to Ski Apache, is considered one of the most difficult road bike rides in the area. The second, a newer 5.5-mile mountain biking trail, begins at the 11,400 foot, Sierra Blanca peak. Bikers and their bikes reach the trailhead by gondola, and then descend more than 1,900 vertical feet at 6-8% grades, with the exception of a 10% grade drop into the Apache Bowl. Ski Apache rents mountain bikes and both adult and child bikers have the option of purchasing single, half-day, full-day, and full-day with lunch rides.  


Ski Apache 1286 Ski Run Road, Mescalero

(575) 464-3600, www.skiapache.com


Riders Block Bicycle Shop, 1137 Mechem Drive Suite B, Ruidoso

(575) 973-5267


Visit www.ruidoso.net for more information about area mountain biking routes and for directions to the trails listed above.


Tennis & Swimming

The two public tennis courts in Ruidoso are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.  The public pool is only open during the summer season. The Ruidoso Athletic Club has the biggest indoor pool in town.  Daily passes are available


Ruidoso Public Tennis Courts 500 Sudderth Drive, Ruidoso (adjacent to Schoolhouse Park)

(575) 257-5030


White Moutain Sports Complex 685 Hull Road, Ruidoso

(575) 257-5030


Ruidoso Public Swimming Pool 515 Sudderth Drive, Ruidoso



Ruidoso Athletic Club 24 hour access 415 Wingfield Street, Ruidoso

(575)257-4900, www.ruidosoathleticclub.com