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The Heart of Northern New Mexico – Red River

The Heart of Northern New Mexico – Red River

Situated just about an hour south of the Colorado border, in the heart of Taos Ski Valley and the Carson National Forest lies Red River. It is a darling little town full to the brim of rich history and culture, hardworking fun-loving folks, and no lack of things to do.

The US Forest Service operates the Red River Ranger Station, this is a great place to stop for information about the area. The station offers a variety of information including maps, brochures, and trail information. They also provide advice on camping and fishing in the area.

However, if you want to get off the beaten path and experience a small town with a big attitude, this is just the place.

If you are interested in tent camping, you should visit the Cabresto lake campground, this is a gorgeous 15-acre lake on a small campground with gorgeous views everywhere you turn. There are other 9 nearby campgrounds, complete with picnic tables and maintained community toilets.

The campsites offer year-round relaxation in a serene and quiet environment. This is partly because not many tourists or inexperienced campers make the drive on the 4-mile primitive road.

Albuquerque to Red River New Mexico

The town is about 2.5 hours from Albuquerque, and it’s accessible by car or by plane. If you’re driving from Albuquerque, take I-25 north to US-64 west.

Once you’re in the town, there are many things to do! Check out our list of things to do, and don’t miss out on the fun!

Best Things to do at Red River

This charming town is in the heart of Northern New Mexico and offers a variety of activities for visitors. Here are some of the best things to do while you’re in the area.


The town is a popular destination for fishing enthusiasts, and with proximity to several lakes and streams, it’s the best place to cast a line.

The best fishing in the Red River in New Mexico is Cabrito Lake. This pristine lake is home to many fish species, including brook trout, catfish, and bass.


Two Men Hiking

There are many beautiful hiking trails near the Red River. Whether you want to hike to a scenic overlook or explore the woods, you’ll find a trail that’s perfect for you.

The heart lake is a short hike from the river and is a great place to fish. The trail is moderate in difficulty and takes about an hour and a half to complete.


Woman Using a Binoculars

Red River is home to some beautiful scenery. Take a drive down one of the town’s scenic byways or take a hike to a nearby overlook to enjoy the fresh air and enjoy cool mountains.

There are also several historic buildings in town that are worth a visit, including the Ski Area Museum and the Red River Ranger Station.

River Rafting

Solo River Rafting

The town is located near several rivers, making it the perfect place to experience some whitewater rafting.

There are several outfitters in town that can provide you with everything you need for a day of rafting, including boats, paddles, and lifejackets.

See Related: Best Pink Lakes In the World

Festival and Events

Colorful Hot Air Balloons

Throughout the year, Red River hosts several festivals and events. Be sure to check out what’s happening during your visit! Some of the town’s popular events include the Reindeer Roundup, the Holiday Lighting Festival, and the 4th of July Celebration.


The best campground in Red River is the Cabresto Lake Campground. This small campground offers 15 campsites and includes tent sites and RV sites right on the banks of Cabresto Lake.

The campsites are serene and quiet, as not many tourists or inexperienced campers make the drive on the 4-mile primitive road.

Ski Area


If you are a skier or snowboarder, Red River has some of the best slopes in the country. The top elevation is over 10,000 feet with an annual snowfall of over 200 inches. The slopes also feature snowmakers to keep everything beautiful and fresh.

There are 57 total trails, split evenly between beginner, intermediate, and expert levels. The ski area is open from Thanksgiving through Easter, and the mountain offers a variety of trails for skiers and snowboarders of all levels.

Best Places to Eat

While you are in Red River, in any season, be sure to check out our favorite places to eat.

For Breakfast


Old Tymer’s Cafe

This is a super cute cafe with a vintage vibe and a bit of a biker theme. The food is delicious and the portions are extremely large, especially for the price. There is a dog-friendly outdoor patio to let you watch the town come to life as you enjoy your pancakes and eggs.

For Lunch


The Ski Tip Restaurant

This gorgeous restaurant is located at the top of the mountain, offering delicious burgers and brats with a beautiful 360-degree view of the town and Carson National Forest. Hike up in the summer or take the ski lift in the winter and enjoy the view! Open for lunch only.

For Dinner


Sundance Restaurant

For authentic and amazing Mexican food, head to the Sundance Restaurant. The building is huge, with two stories and a large patio.

The restaurant is very popular, so it is recommended to make a reservation if you want to have dinner! Be sure to try their house-made agave margaritas and homemade sopapillas.

See Related: Hash House a Go-Go

Where to stay near the Red River in New Mexico

For lodging, almost every hotel is beautiful and worth staying in. They have elegant rooms and are all located right on the main strip.

If you plan on bringing your family, there are many cabin rentals available. These cabins can fit up to 16 people. These are often rustic, beautiful rustic cabins with the river right in your backyard.

If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of even New Mexico’s larger cities, you have to experience the serenity of the Red River.

With lots of quaint gift shops and cafes, plenty of outdoor activities, and a beautiful natural environment it is the perfect place for the adventurer who wants to have a relaxing vacation.

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