Ruidoso can be found nestled in the Sacramento Mountains of New Mexico. Named for the Rio Ruidoso which means “noisy river,” that runs through the town. As a mountain town, the smell of pine trees and the cool mountain air presents a nice change of pace from the fast city life or day to day monotony.

Things to do in Ruidoso

The Ruidoso Downs is a hotspot of fun and activity during the warmer months, and you can watch or bet on the horse races or play at the casino. Shops can be found along with some amazing wood carvings to take home with you. Escape to the mountains and enjoy a mini vacation in this wonderful area. Let’s have a look at the best things to do in Ruidoso.

Winter Activities

Ruidoso is surrounded by the Lincoln National Forest and the White Mountain Wilderness, making it a winter playground. Skiing is very popular in the town, and if you can’t ski, sledding and tubing will entertain you all day as you zip down the frosty white slopes with your friends or family. Are you a hunter? Try some hunting in the area. Rifle, bow, and muzzleloader type hunting is allowed in the area, and look for turkey, elk, and many other varieties of animals. Enjoy the white, winter wonderland in the Sacramento Mountains with a ton of winter activities to keep you busy.

Summer Activities

Ruidoso has long been a favorite getaway for those that live in the southern states. Reaching an average high of 80 degrees during the summer days makes this mountain town a great place to take a break from the squelching summer heat. Fishing, hiking, backpacking and year-round golf can be found in Ruidoso. Tons of gift shops are available for that perfect souvenir, as well as coffee shops with Wi-Fi, clothing stores, dining options, and a movie theater complete with western shootouts in the summer months. There is something for everyone, so take a vacation to the mountains to explore.

Ruidoso Downs

The Ruidoso Downs is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the town. During every weekend in the summer, see racehorses pounding down the racetrack at the downs. You can bet on your favorite horse while sipping a cocktail or two while you make a day of it. It is the only racetrack in the United States that has the oval Thoroughbred racetrack as well as a separate Quarter horse straightaway track. The races start at 10 a.m. most Fridays through Mondays during the summer months, and the racing season is Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend. The cool mountain air is refreshing and allows the horse sport of racing to continue during the summer months. Horse sales are also conducted at the downs, and horse enthusiasts and equine business owners can purchase some of the finest Quarter horse and Thoroughbred mares and yearlings in the sport.

Billy the Kid Casino

Billy the Kid Casino and Sports Bar and Grill can be found adjacent to the racetrack. With over 300 slot machines and a variety of games to play, the Casino can keep you entertained all day and night. The casino is open daily starting at 10 a.m. until midnight, and on the weekends it is open later until 1 a.m. Head over to the Billy’s Race Book area, where all year round you can watch horse races on the big screens and place your bets. The casino has a full buffet and daily specials if you get hungry. Billy’s Sports Bar and Grill also offer food and drinks if you don’t want to eat in the casino. Find a game, grab some great food and drink, and have fun the entire night at the Casino.

The Racehorse Hall of Fame

The Racehorse Hall of Fame can be found on the second floor of the exciting Ruidoso Downs. The hall of fame presents horses, riders, and other racing personnel that has made a considerable impact on the sport. An impressive collection of exhibits, memorabilia, and displays of racing lives are presented for those that wish to take a peek at some of the sport’s most profound influences. Interactive kiosks are available, and admission is free. This is a great stop to make for all horse lovers and non-racing folks alike.


There are plenty of things to do in Ruidoso, just as many places to stay. Try a cozy cabin with a fireplace and hot cup of cocoa, or pamper yourself at one of the resorts. Want a place to stay with a hot tub in the forest? You can find that too in Ruidoso. There are private luxury vacation homes to rent, RV parks, camping, hotels, motels, and condos are available as well. With over 3,000 choices of rentals and rooms to choose from, something is waiting for you.

Run Around Ruidoso

Ruidoso offers a summer and winter playground tucked in the beautiful mountains. The scenery alone is something to visit for, and whether you prefer snowcapped mountains and frosted trees, or a cool summer breeze and fresh mountain air, this place has it all. Stay at the Inn of the Mountain Gods, or a cozy cabin near the forest. Watch the sleek racehorses speed down the track in the summer months and place your bet on your favorite pony. The casino can keep you entertained all night long, and there are plenty of daytime activities to do, places to eat, and things to see in the fantastic getaway town of Ruidoso, New Mexico.


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