14 fantastic things to do in Cloudcroft
A village in Otero County, southeastern New Mexico, high in the Lincoln National Forest, Cloudcroft is located 20 miles east of Alamogordo. Known for the iconic Cloudcroft Lodge, the haven offers excellent hiking, camping, biking, horseback riding and fishing. Mild summers at 9,000 feet above sea level make the village a destination for Texans heading into cooler weather, and Cloudcroft is famous as the southernmost ski area in the United States Cloudcroft has two large ground terminals for the satellite tracking and data relay system, a source of high-tech employment.
A century ago, the Eddy brothers organized the El Paso and Northeast Railroad and built the Alamogordo line to Toboggan Canyon in 1898. The railroad team suggested the name Cloudcroft for “a pasture for the clouds”. John A. Eddy opened the pavilion at the top the following summer with 40 tents set up on wooden platforms, a kitchen, dining room, living room and entertainment room, early glamping as we know it. today.
The resort received a lot of publicity in El Paso, and surrounding areas and crowds began to visit the place. The railroad reached Toboggan Canyon, then a stagecoach brought visitors to Cloudcroft. After the railroad reached Cloudcroft in early 1900, the daily feast in the village met the train at the depot. As cars and trucks replaced trains, the railway closed in 1938 for passengers and in 1947 for freight.
Entering Cloudcroft on Highway 82 from Alamogordo, you will see the Mexican Canyon Trestle, a historic wooden trestle bridge listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, with a plaque describing “The Cloud Climbing Railroad”.
1. Hike to Cloudcroft
The Recreation area on easels, a shaded picnic area for daytime use only, has a beautiful view. There you will find toilets, water, interpretive information and easy access to hiking trails.
The New Mexico Rails-to-Trails Association established and maintained over 90 miles of connecting trails, converting abandoned rail lines into multi-access, multi-use recreational trails. The All-Trails app offers 113 hikes.
Rim trail meanders through firs and pines, aspens and green meadows for 30.5 miles, a combination of ancient Native American paths, railroads, farm trails and logging roads interconnected. Take in spectacular views of the Tularosa Basin at various points, over 4,000 feet below.
Bluff Springs Waterfall, a partially landscaped picnic area 8 miles south of Cloudcroft off the Sunspot Highway, offers scattered camping next to the waterfalls for tents and caravans.
2. Ski Cloudcroft
Cloudcroft Ski, the southernmost ski resort in the United States, enjoys some of the best snows in the world. A favorite for over 50 years, you’ll find 25 great trails with eight trails for beginners, seven intermediate, eight advanced, and two for experts. Go up the hill quickly with the double chairlift, cable lift and manual ski lift, almost as fun as hitting the slopes. Come ski, snowboard and tube with the summit at 9,100 feet and a drop of 700 feet.
Take advantage of the Cloud Nine Ski School which offers affordable private and professional group lessons for skiing or snowboarding. You can rent from a large inventory of professionally maintained equipment.
The two hour block snow tubing is amazing fun with costs including the lift ticket and tube rental. You can tube on three lanes, 700 feet long with 70 feet of vertical drop. It’s a great ride!
Pro tip: For snowshoeing among aspens and ponderosa pines, try Crescent Moon Foam Snowshoes, made of military grade Velcro material with hook-and-loop fasteners and durable rubber lugs and ice tips that are so light it feels like walking on clouds, and they’re completely silent. The flexible rocking platform bends and rolls with your foot, like a favorite pair of athletic shoes.
3. Cloudcroft James Sewell Ice Rink
The only natural ice rink in the southwest, La James Sewell Ice Rink, is outside in historic Cloudcroft. Put on your skates in a beautiful, warm room with a fireplace. Hot chocolate and snacks are available, as well as great music and good quality skates.
4. Play golf at the Lodge Resort in Cloudcroft
Play the Lodge 9-hole golf course twice, according to Scottish tradition of playing different tees and separate flags, open from April 1 to October 31. The historic course, more than 122 years old, was created in 1899, the 7th highest in the world. The advantage of altitude is that your journeys fly for longer than you’ve ever seen.
5. The Lodge Resort And Spa at Cloudcroft
Rising to the top of the 9,000-foot mountain, the Lodge Resort and Spa at Cloudcroft is a charming historic hotel with intriguing ghostly stories from the past, where some feel a haunting presence. You will find 59 Victorian-style rooms and suites that are not alike. Note that the three-storey hotel does not have a lift. Some renovations are still in progress.
Pro tip: Ask for the bell tower key at reception to take in the breathtaking view and see the signatures of former guests like Judy Garland and Clark Gable.
6. Mountain biking and outdoor recreation
The High Altitude Running Loop is an 8.2 mile twisty single trail from High Altitude Bike Shop to Pines Campground, passing Bailey Canyon on the left for a long downhill, then two long climbs up Forest Roads and a loop to the village.
There are over 240 geocaches in the Cloudcroft area, some hidden since 2004. Using GPS-enabled devices, the outdoor geocaching game Geocaching allows participants to navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates. and try to find a hidden geocache container. It is customary to record your experience at geocaching site or the app and record your discovery in the cache log.
Pro tip: Keep caches hidden from “muggles” or non-geocachers.
8. Sacramento Mountain Museum and Pioneer Village
Visit the Museum for the history of the village, whether it was building a railway, harvesting wood or making peace with the Mescalero Apaches who called the region “Pisacah” a place of abundance. You’ll see photos of the old lodge in the hay days, the pioneer village, early farming and ranching, and life in a rugged log cabin. Shop for handmade souvenirs at the general store.
9. Wine and beer tasting
Loud water cellarWhether you like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Petit Sirah or the Double Gold Medal Ruidoso Bubbly, you’ll enjoy these wines and more from Noisy Water Winery with five locations in the region.
Pro tip: For the most unique wine, try the award-winning green Chile wine Besito Caliente.
The family-owned Cloudcroft Brewing Company offers local on-site microbreweries as well as wood-fired pizzas, soups and salads in a historic location with a large outdoor patio hosting live music.
10. Cloudcroft Light Opera Company
Cloudcroft Light Opera Company features the dashing hero, dastardly villain or beautiful heroine in a light family-focused comedy at Zenith Park Pavilion. It all started in 1991 when two old friends from the theater decided to put on a show in the back porch of the Chamber of Commerce. Hats have been passed, funds have been raised, and they have been melodramas ever since. The CLOC presents Santaland celebrating the holidays with a bonfire, hot chocolate and cider, holiday music, games and Santa Claus.
11. More Cloudcroft events
Cloudcroft Christmas Market, Illuminated Christmas Trail, and Tree Lighting Celebrate the Holidays with Santa. Bring an ornament to decorate the tree. The Mardi Gras in the clouds hosts an annual Cajun cooking contest in February, a children’s parade, food vendors and entertainment. The fall Lumberjack competition features food vendors, arts and crafts exhibits, and ax throwing for adults and children, a chainsaw competition, block cutting, and relays. Subscribe to 2022 Cloudcroft Art Workshops in June, July and August.
12. Solar Sunspot Observatory
A leading facility for solar research since 1947, the Dunn Solar Telescope at Solar Sunspot Observatory is still one of the best ground observatories in the world, available by reservation only. The visitor center houses a museum with exhibits and a gift shop. Walk the half-mile loop around the grounds referring to the walking tour brochure.
Where to stay in Cloudcroft
The Crofting Inn houses six rooms with balconies, microwaves and free breakfast. Stay at Cabins at Cloudcroft, 13 fully appointed cabins with king or queen beds, galley, recliner, fireplace, comfortable living space high in aspens and ponderosa pines. The Dusty Boots Motel & Café is a different kind of B&B, a Texas getaway retreat in cool mountain weather, with snow and skiing in the winter. You can enjoy homemade banana bread every evening.
Just half a block from unique boutiques on the promenade, Burro Street Boardinghouse takes you back to an updated version of a log home furnished with century-old antiques, terraces overlooking the village, a wood-burning stove and a old-fashioned breakfast served daily.
Places to eat
Burro Street bakery, home to Cloudcroft’s famous Mountain Top Pies, features hot and cold pastries, breads, pies, lattes, smoothies, coffee, tea, hot chocolate and more. Pre-order whole pies like the favorite Caramel Apple Nut Pie.
A must-see place for a hearty breakfast and a hot cup of coffee, Dusty Boot Cafe Also serves great burgers for lunch and country dinners like chicken fried steak, meatloaf, and fried fish on Fridays.
Brother-in-law’s barbecue, two brothers-in-law from central Texas offer barbecued beef brisket, pulled pork, ribs or smoked chicken, sausage or turkey platters or sandwiches with all the trimmings.
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