Go For The Mountains
Headquartered in Ruidoso, the Lincoln National Forest covers more than a million acres ideal for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking. Smokey Bear, the living embodiment of the forest fire prevention campaign, was rescued in these mountains. www.fs.usda.gov/main/Lincoln
At Ski Apache, the southernmost continually operated ski area in the U.S., powder hounds slush down cruising groomers and tough bump runs. For another adrenaline rush, harness into the three-span Apache Wind Rider ZipTour, which glides from an elevation of 11,500 feet. skiapache.com
On the forest's outskirts northeast of Ruidoso, ride to Billy the Kid's stomping grounds at Lincoln Historic Site, which looks much as it did in the 1880s when the outlaw escaped from the Lincoln County Courthouse here. nmhistoricsites.org/Lincoln
Stay For The Town
Outdoor pursuits aren't reserved for the national forest; you'll find 13 miles of mountain biking routes on the Grindstone Trail System and 7 miles of pedal-perfect trails along Cedar Creek in town.
Ruidoso isn't a one-horse town. The Hubbard Museum of the American West — the only Smithsonian-affiliated museum in the state — exhibits a grand stagecoach collection and Western art. Located in Ruidoso Downs, 6 miles east of Ruidoso, the museum is near Ruidoso Downs Race Track, which hosts live racing. Just outside of town, in Alto, the Spencer Theater for the Performing Arts spotlights touring dance, music, and theater acts. discoverruidoso.com, raceruidoso.com, spencertheater.com