New Mexico’s official nickname is “The Land of Enchantment,” and visitors to the state will quickly understand why. From stunning volcanic peaks to beautiful desert canyons, this beautiful state is full of breath-taking scenery. There are plenty of quaint mountain towns and historic villages with charming New Mexico cabin rentals. If you’re planning a trip to this state, here are seven of the best towns to stay in.
1. Angel Fire
Although it is best known as one of New Mexico’s most popular skiing destinations, Angel Fire is a great place to stay at any time of year. The ski resort, which is within the town limits, so it’s only a short journey away from your vacation rental, is open year round. During the winter, the slopes are open for both skiing and snowboarding, and there’s a tubing hill for all-ages fun. It also offers lighted slopes for night skiing, which lets you watch the stars and the village lights as you ski. During the summer, the ski resort stays open for mountain biking, hiking, and zipline rides. It’s also home to world-class golfing, and there are horseback riding rentals in the area. Keep your eye out for the mysterious glow on Aqua Fria Peak, which supposedly gives this town its name.
If you want to experience the diversity of New Mexican culture, Taos is a great place to stay. This eclectic town is part artist community, part traditional village, and part tourist destination. The nearby Taos Pueblo, which gives the town its name, has been continuously occupied by Puebloans for over a thousand years and is open to visitors on most days, including feast days where traditional dances and ceremonies are held. There is also excellent skiing and snowboarding during winter months at Taos Ski Valley. If you’re up for a challenge, Taos is also located near Wheeler Peak, the highest peak in New Mexico at 13,167 feet. Even if you’re not interested in summiting, the mountain offers great hiking, biking, and rock climbing opportunities.
This picturesque mountain town is nestled in the pine-covered hills of the Sierra Blanca mountain range, and those towering pines have inspired the log cabin style of many of the shops and homes. Ruidoso is perhaps most locally famous for Ruidoso Downs, which is a major thoroughbred and quarter horse racing hub in the state. It is also located close to Ski Apache, a ski resort operated by the Mescalero Apache tribe. This unique resort features some notably technically challenging runs during the winter, as well as mountain biking and zip lining during the summer. Ruidoso is also located on the edge of the Lincoln National Forest, and is close to the historic town of Lincoln where you can see buildings that date back to the infamous era of Billy the Kid, as well as the town of Capitan, where the original Smokey the Bear was from. You can visit the Smokey the Bear Historical Park to learn more about the life and history of this iconic fire safety mascot.
Just seven miles from the Colorado border lies the historic town of Chama, New Mexico. Despite its small size, the town motto is, “All roads lead to Chama.” This stems from its history as a critical railroad juncture during the height of rail travel and development. That history lives on in the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, a historic tour train that runs between Chama and Antonito, Colorado. Chama is also a main stop-over point for through-hikers on the nearby Continental Divide Trail. It is also near the Rio Grande National Forest, which offers hiking, biking, fishing, horseback riding, and more.
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5. Red River
Surrounded by Carson National Forest in northern New Mexico lies the small mountain town of Red River. This area is one of New Mexico’s many ski resorts, thanks to Red River Ski Area. It’s one of the more mountainous areas, and the town is located at about 8,800 feet. In addition to winter sports, such as downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing, there is ample opportunity for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding during warmer months.
Like Ruidoso, Cloudcroft is surrounded by the diverse and expansive Lincoln National Forest. Cloudcroft is a bit further south, however, and lies on the other side of the Mescalero Apache land that is home to Ski Apache. Despite its southern location, however, Cloudcroft also retains that old-fashioned mountain town feel. Many vacation rentals and other buildings are log cabins that look like something straight out of an old western, although with modern amenities. In addition to the scenic views and historic sites, there are some modern luxuries, including wineries and shopping.
7. Eagle Nest
The New Mexican climate tends to be fairly dry. While many of these communities are centered along small streams or rivers, it can still feel a bit arid. If you want a more water-focused trip, Eagle Nest is the place to be. It’s located about 45 minutes from Taos, on the eastern side of Wheeler Peak. Not only does that give you great access to hiking and biking right from your vacation rental, but there are also excellent fishing and boating opportunities on the lake that gives the community its name. This area is a mecca for anglers, or just for anyone who wants a peaceful, scenic vacation rental.
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