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Best Things to Do in Red River, New Mexico

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Just an hour south of the Colorado border in the heart of Taos Ski Valley and the Carson National Forest lies Red River. Red River is a darling little town full to the brim with rich history and culture, hardworking, fun-loving folks, and no lack of activities to do or sights to see.

The US Forest Service operates the Red River Ranger Station, 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 your destination.

If you are interested in camping, visit the Cabresto Lake Campground. This is a gorgeous 15-acre lake on a small campground with gorgeous views everywhere you turn. There are nine nearby campgrounds, with picnic tables and well-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 drive to the four-mile primitive road.

Albuquerque to Red River, New Mexico

Red River, New Mexico Aerial Scenery

The town is about 2.5 hours from Albuquerque and accessible by car or plane. If you’re driving from Albuquerque, take I-25 north to US-64 west. Once you’re in town, there are many activities to engage in! Check out our list of things to do, and enjoy the fun!

Things to Do in Red River, New Mexico

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 in the area.



The town is a popular destination for fishing enthusiasts. 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 can be found at Cabresto 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 will find the perfect trail.

The Heart Lake Trail 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 stunning scenery. Drive down one of the town’s scenic byways or hike to a nearby overlook to enjoy the fresh air and cool mountains.

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

River Rafting

Solo River Rafting

The town is near several rivers, making it the perfect place to experience whitewater rafting. Several outfitters in town 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

The town is near several rivers, making it the perfect place to experience whitewater rafting. Several outfitters in town can provide you with everything you need for a day of rafting, including boats, paddles, and lifejackets.

See Related: Restaurants in Santa Fe, New Mexico


Cabresto Lake Campground Scenery
Management / TripAdvisor

The best campground in Red River is the Cabresto Lake Campground. This small campground offers 15 campsites and includes tent 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 four-mile primitive road.

See Related: Things to Do in Albuquerque, New Mexico

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 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 in Red River, New Mexico

While you are in Red River, explore our favorite places to eat. We have options for you no matter what season you visit!

For Breakfast


Old Tymer’s Cafe

Address: 210 E Main St, Red River, NM 87558, United States

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

For Lunch


The Ski Tip Restaurant

Address: Ski and Summer Area, Red River, NM 87558, United States

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

For Dinner

Sundance Restaurant


Address: 401 E High St, Red River, NM 87558, United States

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 popular, so we recommend making a reservation if you want to have dinner! Be sure to try their homemade agave margaritas and homemade sopapillas.

See Related: Hash House a Go-Go

Where to stay near Red River in New Mexico

Establishment in Downtown Red River
Elisa.rolle, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There is an abundance of beautiful hotels and inns on the main strip. If you plan on bringing your family, many cabin rentals are available year-round. These cabins can fit up to 16 people. These are often rustic, beautiful cabins with the river in your backyard.

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

Red River is the perfect place for adventurers who want a relaxing vacation with lots of quaint shops and cafes, plenty of outdoor activities, and a beautiful natural environment.

1. WorldMark Red River Top Recommendation

WorldMark Red River is located at the base of Red River Ski and Snowboard Area in New Mexico, just 10 minutes from town. All apartments feature fully-equipped kitchens, a seating area with cable TV, gas fireplace and wireless internet access. A clothes washer and tumble dryer are also provided for convenience.

2. Three Bears Lodge

Three Bears Lodge is located in the mountains of New Mexico. The hotel offers great views, cozy and comfortable rooms, free WiFi and a 24 hour front desk. With an on site restaurant serving traditional American food, Three Bears Lodge is the perfect base for exploring Red River, Questa and Taos.

3. Alpine Lodge

It's just a short drive to Red River Ski Area and the Alpine Golf Course. You can also enjoy hiking in the summer, or skiing in the winter. For a little bit of art and culture, head over to The Ranch House Museum, which is only 4 miles away from Alpine Lodge. A little further away, you'll find The Old Trail Town - a place where you can really get an idea of what life was like for early settlers.

What is Red River, New Mexico Known For?

Red River, New Mexico is known for its breathtaking natural beauty and is a popular year-round destination for outdoor recreation. Visitors can enjoy fishing, hiking, biking, horseback riding, and camping during the summer months.

Red River is an excellent spot for skiing and snowboarding in the winter. The town also boasts a vibrant nightlife and offers a variety of restaurants and shops. Red River is home to many annual festivals and events, such as the Red River Folk Festival and the Red River Arts & Crafts Fair.

Is Red River, New Mexico Worth Visiting?

Red River Aerial Scenery

Red River, New Mexico is a beautiful mountain town worth visiting. Nestled in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Red River is known for its stunning mountain views, outdoor activities, and quaint atmosphere.

In addition to its natural beauty, Red River is home to various restaurants, shops, galleries, and other attractions. From skiing and snowmobiling in the winter to hiking, fishing, and rafting in the summer, there is something for everyone in Red River. So, whether you are looking for a relaxing getaway or an active adventure, Red River is a beautiful place to visit.

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