Off The Beaten Path Adventures in Ruidoso, New Mexico

Breathtaking natural beauty and captivating sunsets. Iconic landscapes and rich Native American history. Countless outdoor activities and adventures year-round, whether summer or winter. Welcome to New Mexico, also known as The Land of Enchantment, and for good reason. No other state better captures the true essence of the American Southwest — and the best way to experience this is to go off the beaten path in Ruidoso, New Mexico, and make your trip truly memorable.

Obviously certain Ruidoso spots are obligatory visitor destinations, such as Lincoln National Forest and the Ruidoso Downs. However do not forget to check out on these unique and offbeat things to do in Ruidoso:

Ziplining at 11,489 feet up!

Ziplining gets exponentially more fun as the elevation increases, it’s a scientific fact*. So, like any good ski company, Ski Apache offers plenty of adrenaline-pumping outdoor summer activities as well. Not just their impressive ziplines, one of the top Ruidoso highlights, but also mountain biking, hiking, even a disc golf course — and that’s just a fraction of all the things to do here.
* may not technically be “scientific” but any zipliner will tell you that it is definitely a fact 😉

Ziplining at Grindstone Lake is one of the many unique and offbeat things to do in Ruidoso, New Mexico
Ever tried ziplining in the winter? As you fly over the white terrain a tiny part of you feels like Santa (without the reindeer)

Ziplining in Ruidoso, an unforgettable experience!

Located over 11,000 feet above sea level (3,500 metres) and covering nearly two miles in distance (over 2.7 kilometres), this three-part zipline course offers “the most spectacular view in Southern New Mexico” and hits speeds of up to 65MPH! (That is 105km/h!) Now try telling me that you don’t want to experience this….not possible.

Ziplining at Grindstone Lake is one of the many unique and offbeat things to do in Ruidoso, New Mexico
Ziplining at Grindstone Lake is one of the many unique and offbeat things to do in Ruidoso

Best of all, ziplining in Ruidoso is open year-round!

Gallop over to the Museum of the Horse

I have an fixation with strange, unique and one-of-a-kind museums around the world. No museum is too small or too quirky. Only a small percentage of museums are worth a second visit, however every museum is worth one visit. Or as Spiderman would say, “Everybody gets one.”

Spiderman says everybody gets one -- first on Family Guy, and then two years later he said it for the first time in the comics
“Everybody gets one” according to Spiderman in Family Guy S06E03. Little known fact: Two years later Spiderman said those same words in the comic book for the first time.

The Museum Of The Horse in Ruidoso changed its name to Hubbard’s Museum of the American West but the museum itself is still just as interesting as before, especially to anyone fascinated by horses or the history of the American West.

The Hubbards were a racing family, which explains why the museum is located next to the race track, Ruidoso Downs. It focuses on a wide variety of regional history, from wild horses and horse racing to Native Americans, pioneers and frontier life.

The Museum Of The Horse is one of the many unique and offbeat things to do in Ruidoso, New Mexico
“Free Spirits at Noisy Waters” by Dave McGary is a collection of eight giant horse sculptures located on the grounds of the Museum of the American West

Although small, a surprising amount is packed into this museum. Sculptures, horse carriages, weapons, art and a plethora of antiques, all of which have detailed descriptions. There are also seasonal exhibits as well, so you never know what might be on display when you arrive.

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Don’t forget to stop by Ruidoso Downs located next door!

Horse racing at Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico
Ruidoso Downs

Entrance to the grounds is free, but the museum costs $7

Try Something You’ve Never Done Before

When it comes to outdoor activities and adventures, this is where Ruidoso really shines. Regardless of whether it is summer or winter, the surrounding scenery, mountains, and lakes provide easy access to all the adrenaline and excitement you crave. The hardest part is actually deciding what to do.

Winter Activities  

Snowboarding at Grindstone Lake is one of the many unique and offbeat winter activities in Ruidoso, New Mexico

Cold weather means skiing, snowboarding, winter ziplining, tubing, sledding, and all sorts of other snow-filled activities. Decide on a couple that you have never tried before and make sure put them on your Ruidoso winter to-do list.

Summer Activities  

Horseback riding around Grindstone Lake is one of the many unique and off the beaten path summer activities in Ruidoso, New Mexico

During summer there is horseback riding, disc golf, hiking, mountain biking, cycling tours (on the road), fishing, ziplining, horse racing, camping and more. Pick one (or more) of these activities that you have never done before and give it a go. What better way to create some unforgettable memories while in Ruidoso?

Go Mountain Biking Around Grindstone Lake

Ruidoso has nearly a dozen lakes, parks and recreation areas — that is one for every 700 residents! — so outdoor activities abound. The hiking trails around Grindstone Lake are some of the most relaxing, beautiful and enjoyable of all these activities.

There are 18-miles of multiple use trails around Grindstone Lake and on into the neighboring Lincoln National Forest designed by the International Mountain Biking Association. In other words, sure, they are suitable for hiking, but they were designed for mountain biking 😉

Mountain biking around Grindstone Lake is one of the best outdoor activities in Ruidoso, New Mexico
Mountain biking around Grindstone Lake
Map of the 18 miles of hiking and biking trails around Grindstone Lake in Ruidoso, New Mexico
Screenshot from

There’s Even A Disc Golf Course

Grindstone Lake also offers fishing and has a 27-hole disc golf course, both of which are great options for a less strenuous ways to enjoy that famous Ruidoso scenery and natural beauty.

Disc golf at Grindstone Lake is one of the top unique and offbeat outdoor activities in Ruidoso, New Mexico
Disc golf is my favorite sport. And yes, it is a real sport.

Unleash the Beast at Pillow’s Funtrackers

Go karts, bumper boats and miniature golf, oh my! Pillow’s Funtrackers is a unique theme park that is fun for kids of all ages — including our inner kid. (When was the last time you released that guy?) Open all year round, Pillow’s Funtrackers attracts thrill-seeking guests from all of New Mexico, not just visitors to Ruidoso.

Contrary to most theme parks, the prices at Pillow’s Funtrackers are surprisingly affordable as well. You might even call it “fun pricing” 😉 For $100 you can get 20 tickets, each good for one admission on any of the 20 rides. That’s enough for the whole family — or for you to spend an entire afternoon here by yourself ????

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Pillow's Funtrackers is a unique and offbeat theme park in Ruidoso, New Mexico
Pillow’s Funtrackers is the most unexpected and offbeat theme park in Ruidoso…possibly all of New Mexico

All three of the go kart tracks, the bumper cars, miniature golf course and mountain maze are open year-round. The only seasonal activities at Pillow’s Funtrackers are the bumper boats and gemstone panning.

This article was sponsored in part by Discover Ruidoso, however it should go without saying that all experiences are my own opinion and were not influenced in any way. Everything here is HoliDaze approved! 😉

Any other unique activities to recommend?


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About Derek Freal

"Some people eat, others try therapy. I travel."   Cultural enthusiast. Adrenaline junkie. Eater of strange foods. Chasing unique and offbeat adventures around the world since 2008. Derek loves going to new destinations where he does not speak a word of the local language and must communicate with hand gestures, or places where he is forced to squat awkwardly to poo -- supposedly its healthier and more efficient. For more information (about Derek, not squat pooing) including popular posts and videos, check out his bio.

2 thoughts on “Off The Beaten Path Adventures in Ruidoso, New Mexico”

  1. Winter ziplining looks inspired dude. Quite awesome. Definitely need to bundle up for that experience, with those cold New Mexico winds whipping around. I’ve only see zipping in tropical destinations. New Mexico has so much to offer. Added to the travel list.



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