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Wednesday, September 7, 2016


I've been vacationing at Red River, New Mexico nearly every summer since I was 12 years old.  It's the perfect mountain getaway for the Oklahoma/North Texas region and we notice that a majority of visitors are from those areas.  Nestled in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, not only is it a skiing destination in the winter, but it's awesome to escape the heat of the summer and spend some time in the cool climate of the mountains.

The past two summers our family has done big road trips (one to each coast), so we were all ready to head back to our familiar happy place this summer to relax.  The majority of the time we visit in the summer (we've never been there in the winter to ski!!), but we've been multiple times at Fall Break as well and it's gorgeous with all of the golden leafed Aspen trees covering the mountainsides.


Our standard lodging spot is The Riverside Lodge and Cabins.  There are a variety of accommodations available, but we really love the location (center of town) and the grounds at the Riverside.  That being said, the rustic decor hasn't changed in 30 years, but the rooms have always met our needs.

We've stayed in almost all of the different kinds of rooms at the lodge.  This time we were in one of the two story units, we enjoy the deck and porch and it gives us a little more room to spread out.  There were lots of families on property too, and apparently some family reunions because there were several big family groups there during our stay.

We usually take a few balls, gloves, a frisbee, etc., as well as some extra folding lawn chairs to use on the porch and around town.  There are several parks in town in addition to the grassy lawn at our lodge and green space to play along the river.

There's a playground in the center of the complex that was fabulous when the kids were young.  There's lots of fun for all ages on property, including a hot tub, shuffleboard, basketball goal, horseshoes, ladder ball, and corn hole.

We got a big corn hole bracket going with the whole family participating.  My little sis and her game winning shot... she's not competitive at all. #onoppositeday

 Ultimately, in a showdown between my husband and my Dad, Ray pulled off the win for the grand championship!

Other than The Riverside, there are a few other place I can recommend.  My middle sister's family stayed at La Casita earlier this summer and they highly recommend it.  The Riverside used to own World Mark by Wyndham,  and I've stayed there in the past.  Now it's mainly timeshares but I believe they still have units to rent out.  It's nice because all the units back up to the river.  We have dear friends that always stay at Copper King Lodge & Cabins (particularly riverfront cabins) and highly recommend it.  Although I haven't stayed at these two, they are supposed to be great too- 3 Bears Lodge,  and Edelweiss Condos (has a pool).  For a full list of in-town lodging, go here.  There are also many vacation home rentals available, here's a list to start with but there may be more available with some searching.  Lastly, there are abundant campgrounds and RV parks in the area if you're wanting to camp!


Honestly, we don't eat out too much when we're in Red River.  We always rent a unit with a full kitchen to save a little money on meals.  We do grab lunch out a few times.  The Dairy Bar makes a good burger among other things, with excellent ice cream and shakes! 

We did eat dinner out once this trip, at the Sundance Mexican Food Restaurant.  I've been going there since I was a little girl and it's always delicious.  It didn't disappoint this year, either, the sopapillas are to die for!  A few other places to recommend:

The Pit Stop at Go-Kart City- sounds fancy, right? ;) Good for a quick serve snack or meal

There are several other restaurants in town, those are just a few that I can vouch for.  :) 


Red River offers plenty of summer activities to choose from, including horseback riding, off-roading (Jeep and ATV rentals available), fishing, bicycle rentals, shopping, chuckwagon dinners, and many other family activities.  With plenty of "free" entertainment, you can spend as little or as much as you want on this vacation.  Even with a small budget, there's plenty to do and enjoy around to keep busy.  Even with all that is available, Red River is where we go to do absolutely nothing.  We never have a set agenda.  We generally decide each morning something we want to do that day, and the majority of the day is spent roaming the town, sitting on the porch reading, exploring along the river, and taking it easy.  It's absolutely what we need to relax and re-charge.

Another thing we especially love about Red River is the size of the town.  It's totally doable to walk the length of the town, so often we park the car when we arrive and don't use it again.  We like to take our own bikes when we can, they make it a little easier to get around town.  It's a place where we're comfortable turning the kids loose and letting them roam on their own. 

The Community House offers a wide variety of activities throughout the summer, including guided hikes and tours, kids' activities, s'mores on the lawn nights, movie nights, line and square dancing, crafts, and church services on Sunday.  If you go make sure to get a schedule for the week so you can see all that is going on.  One of the kids' favorite activities is the bi-weekly boat races, where the kids make their own boat from wood scraps then race them in the river.  We grew up going to the Community House in the evenings to watch all of the square dancers... decked out in their dancing clothes with layered petticoats and all!  It was always fun to see where everyone was from.

There's a go-kart track in town, it was a happy day for each child when they were finally tall enough to drive their own car.

At the base of one of the lifts the town has put in a Summer play area, complete with the nicest ropes courses I've seen, and two tubing courses (one for little guys and one for older kids/adults).  There's also the "Playhouse" (white roof in distance) with roller skating, pool, some arcade games, and mini-golf.  My sisters and I grew up living at the Playhouse playing outdoor mini-golf, Ms. PacMan, and air hockey, but honestly, it's seen better days.  OK for some activities, but it's sadly getting run down.

The kids enjoyed the larger tubing course that winds down the mountains, they actually spray the bottom of the tubes with cooking spray to make them go faster!

There are a multitude of hiking trails at various degrees of difficulty.  The Community House offers a variety of guided hikes, or there are trail maps available around town if you'd like to set out on your own.  Any hotel or shop owner is always a good resource as well.

Lots of jeep and ATV trails are in the area, but there are a few picturesque spots you can drive most vehicles to, even though the roads are a bit rough.  One that we love to visit is Cabresto Lake.  It makes a good picnic and fishing spot and there are trails around it if you want to do some hiking while you're there.

This year Ray, our brother in law Micah, and Caleb completed a one-day hike to the top of Wheeler Peak at 13,161 feet, the highest point in NM.  It's a hard push to make the summit and back down in a day from Red River, but they did it!

Caleb looking down at Lost Lake on the trail to the top of Wheeler Peak.

We often enjoy day trips to neighboring towns Taos (about 45 minutes away), and Eagle's Nest (20 minutes away).  Eagle's Nest actually has one of our favorite thrift stores, Angel's Attic.  It's only open Thursday-Saturday and there is always a line of people waiting at the door when they open at 10:00 (don't miss the barn out back, too!).  This time, I spent $18 and got a pair of ski pants, a wool ski hat, a 4 capacity car bike rack, a brass pot, 3 hardback books, 6 bamboo handles, and a new sweater!  Bargains galore, and as I mentioned, it's the BEST place to buy ski gear... I think I outfitted my kids with snow clothes from there many winters as they were growing up!  The Rio Grande Gorge is also nearby and interesting to visit, although if you do any rafting trips that's likely where they will be.

My parents and youngest sister and her husband met us in Red River for vacation this year, so it was fun to hang out with family!  Aren't my Dad and Mom cute?  :)

Shout out to my family- they were good sports to dress nicely and let me get in a little family photo shoot the morning that we headed home.

One note, Summer and Winter (through Spring Break) are peak seasons. We really enjoy being there in the Fall, but just know that it's off season and some restaurants/shops/activities might not be open, and the town is extra quiet, however most hotel rates are discounted.  We don't mind the sleepy town at all, but just so you know!

I have a feeling some of you have been to Red River.  I'd love to see some of your favorite memories or things to do there in the comments!

mountain vacation, what to do in Red River, Red River New Mexico travel guide

*Thanks to my sister for sharing her photos with me, several of these are hers.  :)

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Would you like to comment?

  1. wow, what a great spot! i can't believe that deer photo and those waterfalls.

  2. Thank you for the great tips! We were in Red River for Labor Day--our first trip there. There is SO much to do for such a little town! I wrote a post yesterday of what we did and I can't wait to go back again and try out some of your suggestions! :-)

    1. Oh how funny, you're on the ball with your post! Took me a while to get mine together. ;) Headed over now to see what fun you had!

  3. My husband and I have taken many Red River trips together with two other families. Reading your blog today was like a trip back to one of our favorite places! We stayed at the Riverside one time, great place. We stayed at the Ponderosa Inn the last couple of times. We drive from Houston, so it is a long way, but so very worth it. Thanks for bringing to mind so many wonderful memories. I am ready to go back!


    1. We stayed at the Ponderosa the very first time we went in 1984. Glad to hear it's still a good place to stay! The location is great there, too. Glad you enjoyed the post!

  4. Looks like a great spot! Putting on the list for when we do a Southwest road trip a few years down the road!

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  6. New York Roofing ContractorSeptember 9, 2016 at 12:37 AM

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  7. Good one. All looks great and charming! I like so many things I want to steal some stuff from your house, Lol


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