Stress-inducing situations can happen frequently in rainy or snowy climates during the winter, leading retired or vacationing folks to find refuge in warmer places. While New Mexico’s unique landscape and geology can prove a bit difficult to take in during summer's scorching desert heat, the winter is an ideal time to travel, with reliably balmy temperatures. Whether you are retired or in need a temporary change of weather, make like a “snowbird” and go south to beautiful New Mexico for the winter! These ten destinations are the most affordable in New Mexico and are the best options for you if you are looking for a longer stay.
Affordable Snowbird Destinations In New Mexico
1. Las Cruces
Just 42 miles north of El Paso and the U.S.-Mexico border, New Mexico’s second-most populous city averages around 65 degrees Fahrenheit during the state’s sunny winter months and has beautiful homes like this beautiful lodge in the desert. Here, you can eat all kinds of delicious Mexican food and chili that packs a punch; satisfy your sweet tooth by ordering a green chile sundae at Caliche’s Frozen Custard (which also has a drive-thru counter). If you’re in town during late October or early November consider attending the Día de los Muertos in the Mesilla neighborhood, or visit the top-ranked farmers market on Wednesdays or Saturdays.
2. Silver City
Known for being Billy the Kid’s stomping ground, Silver City is today a low-key college town (home to Western New Mexico University) that boasts quite a few respected art galleries. Its climate hovers around 50 degrees, making for a crisp, but not unbearable winter season that you can enjoy in homes like this one with beautiful views and a porch swing. An oft-visited tourist destination is the government-operated Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, which features a one-mile trail leading to preserved shelters used by Mogollon nomads in the late 1200s.
By far New Mexico’s most recognizable and populous city, Albuquerque (recently given much exposure from Breaking Bad) has the Rio Grande running through its high-elevation urban area. While other locales might leave you snowed in during January or February, the “ABQ” rarely dips below 45 degrees, creating plenty of opportunities to pursue outdoor pastimes like hiking, biking and even riding a hot-air balloon. You can also enjoy time outside of your rental home, like at this lovely property. Nearby Sandia Peak Ski Area provides a snowy getaway for the snowbirds looking for an unexplored set of slopes. Alternatively, check out the Sandia Peak Tramway, the longest aerial tram in the United States.
This relaxed and diverse town is full of Pueblo-style cottages and sits adjacent to a great many other destinations in northern New Mexico that blossom with beautiful weather in February and March. Here, Taos is proud of its tight-knit and prestigious artistic community, which draws in tourists for specialty festivals every few months. Active folks will enjoy a thrilling rafting ride on the Rio Grande—just under an hour away from Taos. If you enjoy skiing, Taos is also a great destination. Stay slightly out of town in a rental home like this one for peaceful, quiet days spent bird watching or in the hot tub!
5. Angel Fire
For such a tiny village in the mountains, Angel Fire has a wide selection of delicious places to eat, including pizzerias, breweries and steakhouses. When you’re not learning to ski or snowboard at one of the local resorts, make a trip to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park, the only protected area in the country dedicated to this particular set of veterans. If not to appreciate its beauty, the commemorative pieces and sculptures here deserve attention. End the day in front of the fireplace in a cozy rental home like this one.
6. El Prado
Just north of Taos on Highway 64, El Prado sits next to the Taos Pueblo reservation and Taos Mountain Casino, and chances are good that you will have stunning views from your rental property. It’s a secluded place to stay, and delights tourists with its screensaver-worthy views of surrounding geological features. For an athletic challenge and unforgettable experience, consult with Far Flung Adventures for not only a chance to kayak the Rio Grande, but also Rio Chama, a lesser-traveled waterway.
7. Red River
Nestled deep in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Red River is a godsend for hiking, with trails that cater to all levels of physical stamina. Moderate Columbine Trail will take trekkers through meadows and creeks; the somewhat intense Goose Lake Trail will lead you to a serene and picturesque body of water; the bold and brave hikers can try their luck making their way up Wheeler Peak (elevation: 13,159′). You will enjoy the views of the river that flows through town, especially if you stay at a rental property like this one!
Ruidoso has grown in popularity in recent years, with plenty of outside money invested in bringing more visitors to the Sierra Blanca mountain range and the Mescalero reservation. Enticing attractions in the area include the Ruidoso Downs (a racetrack connected to Billy the Kid Casino) horseback riding (and sleigh rides) at Grindstone Stables and the Ruidoso River Museum—which commemorates a 1878 territorial battle in pre-statehood New Mexico. In the coldest months, average highs range between 40 and 50 degrees, which is perfect weather for staying in a cozy cabin.
9. Santa Fe
New Mexico’s state capital is quite old for an American city and incidentally has become a hub for many creative people and visual artists over the years: there’s a dedicated Georgia O’Keefe museum and the Museum of International Folk Art, and many other well-known figures have work on display around town in exhibits big and small. Collecting souvenirs? Stroll into Canyon Road, an upscale outdoor mall. Stay in a historic hacienda to get the complete New Mexico experience.
10. Taos Ski Valley
Enjoy the cozy, welcoming environment and fantastic outdoorsman-friendly at any one of the satisfying food joints around Taos Ski Valley, like crepes and brisket tacos, to name a few options. To hit the slopes and ski lifts, you’ll need to purchase tickets at the Taos Ski Valley Resort—it’s impossible to fully understand the hype of this getaway without sliding about on the snow with loved ones. Stay in a stunning condo near the Hondo River so you can fall asleep to the peaceful sound of water before your next ski day.
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This article was written by Juliana Cohen.