How Safe Is Red River for Travel?

Updated On July 14, 2023
Red River, United States
Safety Index:
72
* Based on Research & Crime Data
User Sentiment:
100
* Rated 100 / 100 based on 5 user reviews.

Red River, New Mexico, might be a small mountain town, but it has epic things to do for outdoor lovers.

Whether you’re planning a trip next week or in the next decade, this town is forever surrounded by protected wilderness.

Red River’s downtown tips its hat to mining history as it still evokes that Western town feel.

What was once a booming mining town is now a town of 500 people, but the wingspan of recreation spans more than a million surrounding acres, with New Mexico’s highest mountain watching over the land.

This town is less than an hour from Taos and Taos Ski Valley but doesn’t draw nearly as large crowds—just the way some adventures want it.

The bonus is that you can parlay a trip to Red River into a Taos trifecta.

As if this town needed more accolades, it’s also on the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, an 84-mile circle around Mount Wheeler.

Whether you want to drive, ski, float or hike your way into the heart of the New Mexico mountains, Red River offers something for everyone.

Warnings & Dangers in Red River

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK: LOW

There's a low risk here, but a high-profile shooting in 2023 left a stain on the tourism industry. We'll talk a little later about why you shouldn't let that deter your plans. This is a wonderful place to visit and is likely now safer than ever.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW

The main road through Red River is walkable at just a mile long, but a free shuttle can help you get around if you don't want to walk it. Red River Miner Transit also takes people to and from the ski resort year-round. Taxis and rideshares will be available sparingly, but a rental car will give you the most flexibility.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW

The risk is low, but with any tourist community, you should keep your belongings secured and only carry what you need with you. There might be people looking for a crime of opportunity.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: LOW

At this elevation (8,671'), you'll get snow in winter as well as in the shoulder seasons. While snow is good for the ski resort, it can also bury roads and make it treacherous to travel. Wildfires are another big risk that can lead to hiking dangers, air quality risks, and road closures. Flash flooding and severe thunderstorms can build quickly in the warmer months. You need to stay weather aware here.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK: LOW

Most years, Red River doesn't see a single robbery. Since 2000, there hasn't been a year with more than two. It's a low risk.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK: LOW

This is another low risk as the town is so remote. There are no hard targets nearby, and it's a rather rugged area to access in the first place.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK: LOW

You can learn about the latest scam risks through the Better Business Bureau, local law enforcement, and the New Mexico Attorney General's website. The risk is low if you know the warning signs, so being educated is critical.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW

This is another low-risk, but any wilderness area should not be explored solo. I feel slightly hypocritical saying that as I hike alone often, but I can say that fear of the risks keeps me from going more than a few miles from safety. Traveling in a group of three is ideal. When you're in town, the risk is still low, with plenty of people around in well-lit, busy, and secured areas.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK: LOW

The 2022 Water Quality Report shows no violations and full compliance with all state and federal regulations. You can also learn a lot about water conservation by reading it or visiting the New Mexico Water Conservation Alliance.

Safest Places to Visit in Red River

Even if you have concerns about visiting a small town of just 500 people, the fact that there’s an updated and abundant tourism website signals this is a great place to visit.

RedRiver.org is a tourism site.

You can download a free travel guide without having to give any personal information.

Walking down Main Street is a great way to get a lay of the land.

The streets and sidewalks are wide, with plenty of shops, restaurants, and activities spread out, with a park at the center of it all. Look for Frye’s Old Town for great souvenirs and summer gunfight reenactments from the Old West days.

The downtown area also has adventure rental stores where you can get gear for whatever activity you plan to do.

That does include ATVs/UTVs/OHVs (off-road vehicles), horseback riding reservations, and fly fishing.

Several nearby businesses offer musical experiences with a meal, like the Bobcat Pass Wilderness Adventure’s “Cowboy Evening” and the “Rocking 3M Chuckwagon” on Bitter Creek Road.

You can also visit one of several saloons in town to get live music with a meal at a much lower price, but also not as unique of an experience.

The ski resorts nearby are Red River Ski & Summer Area and Enchanted Forest Cross Country Ski Area, though both offer year-round activities.

Several tour companies in the area offer rafting adventures, with the famous “Rock Garden” on this stretch of the Rio Grande.

You’ll drop 90 feet in less than a minute.

Rafting tours are open to everyone, and expert guides will help keep the trip as safe as possible.

Scenic river tours are available that will keep you away from the rapids.

You can research one of the many wilderness areas nearby, which means it’s protected land.

Most areas are part of the Carson National Forest.

Options include Wheeler Peak Wilderness, Latie Peak Wilderness, Columbine-Hondo Wilderness, and Pecos Wilderness.

Places to Avoid in Red River

Red River is too small to have a bad part of town.

That’s good news most days, but it also means when shootings like the May 2023 one happen, it’s usually in a crowd of people.

The best thing you can do is avoid large crowds where fights or trouble seem to be brewing.

This is a popular community for motorcycles, and you should not assume that all motorcyclists are in a gang.

I lived near Laughlin, Nevada, which was plagued by a “Biker Brawl” in 2002.

For years, everyone has said, “That’s where the motorcycle gangs hang out.”

It’s not.

It’s a place where retirees hang out.

But one incident can mark a community.

You should also avoid going into any wilderness area without checking a few things first:

  • Is there a wildfire burning or a wildfire risk? (nmfireinfo.com)
  • Is there part of the area that is scarred by wildfire or storm damage? (use the website for the wilderness area)
  • Are there storms in the forecast? (NWS Albuquerque and then search Red River)
  • How deep is the snowpack? (Ski resorts post this information daily)
  • How are the roads to get there? (Use NMroads.com)

Safety Tips for Traveling to Red River

  1. Red River has its own police department in the form of a marshal and a handful of officers. Supporting law enforcement comes from Taos County Sheriff’s Office. You should follow both on social media to get updates about crime, safety, and weather risks.
  2. Taos County Emergency Management’s website has an “AlertMe App” to download so you can get alerts about the weather sent to your phone. You can also confirm you have WEA alerts enabled on your modern mobile device.
  3. If you are in the wilderness, the mobile alerts won’t cut it. You’ll be out of mobile range for most of the region. Bring a NOAA weather radio and have someone at the fire department help you program it correctly.
  4. Altitude sickness can impact people starting at 6,500 feet. Since Red River is above 8,000 feet, you should give yourself a day or two to hang around town and see how you’re handling the thinner air. You definitely don’t want to summit Mount Wheeler on Day 1 if you are prone to altitude sickness.
  5. Please review wildlife safety from the New Mexico Department of Fish & Game. Bears, bobcats, and mountain lions roam this region. You should know what to do if confronted by one of these animals and carry bear-proof containers for all your food.
  6. If you see wildlife roaming through town, this is totally normal. What’s not normal is feeding the animals or trying to get closer. Unless an animal is acting aggressively, just let them go on their way.
  7. Fishing licenses are required in New Mexico. The outfitters in town will sell you a license, or you can buy one ahead of time from Fish & Game online.
  8. If you plan to use an off-road vehicle while you’re here, please review the rules for non-residents. That’s also through Fish & Game.
  9. Check out the mudslide that happened in Red River back in August 2021. It’s a great example of how flash flooding can cause massive damage. You should never drive through a flooded roadway or ride a river road when a warning is in effect. These waters can easily sweep away a mountainside or your car.
  10. The majority of the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway has guardrails on the steep side of the road, but there’s very little room to pull over in case of an emergency. Always wait until you get to a scenic rest stop to take photos. The road is just two lanes, and it’s a winding circle. Let people pass if you’re taking it slow, and never pass if the lines in the center of the road are solid. Only pass in designated “Passing Zones” where the lines are dashed.

So... How Safe Is Red River Really?

Red River is a small town of just more than 500 people and, therefore, has a small law enforcement department overseen by a Marshal.

Crime ranks in single digits for most categories in 2020 and the years before, but no official data has been released since then.

Despite all the number crunching, I could do for you, what’s really going to haunt Red River forever is the shooting at the Red River motorcycle rally in May 2023.

Three people were killed and five more hurt in a biker gang war, connected to a photograph taken in Albuquerque a few days before.

And, no, I’m not downplaying the cause.

“It was in Albuquerque, and what we’re being told it was over somebody taking a picture with a different gang; it’s something as stupid as that,” New Mexico State Police Chief Tim Johnson said at the time.

What is worth noting and repeating is that this incident is in no way indicative of the safety of Red River.

Between 2000 and 2020, there was just one homicide in the town.

On top of that, this is probably now the safest time to visit Red River since law enforcement learned lessons about planning and securing the tourist areas better than ever before.

If you have any questions, Marshal James Johnson invites you to contact the department.

He said in part, “I would like all persons in the Town of Red River to understand that no phone call is unimportant to us, and if you have a need for the Police Department, even if it is a simple question or minor concern then you should feel free to contact our Communications Center.”

How Does Red River Compare?

CitySafety Index
Red River72
Orlando64
Las Vegas62
San Francisco61
Philadelphia60
Houston59
Atlanta58
Manama (Bahrain)54
Tianjin (China)67
Brussels (Belgium)60
Shanghai (China)66
Belize City (Belize)37
La Paz (Bolivia)52

Useful Information

Visas

Visas

International visitors need a visa or visa waiver, but your eligibility for the waiver depends on your country of origin. You'll also need a passport that isn't within six months of expiring.

Currency

Currency

Only the U.S. Dollar will be accepted here. Take care of currency exchange at your home bank or a regional branch of your home bank. The Albuquerque airport won't have a currency exchange option.

Weather

Weather

Since Red River is at 8,700 feet above sea level, you'll miss the extreme heat the rest of the state experiences. Even in July, average temperatures in the town get into the low 40s(F). Bring plenty of layers. Sunscreen is necessary any time of year as the elevation makes sunburn happen faster.

Airports

Airports

You can use Colorado Spring Airport or Albuquerque International Sunport, but those are going to be road trips of 3-4 hours. Taos has a regional airport with Taos Air as the only provider. That airport is 45 minutes away. Sante Fe has a regional airport with service by American Airlines, about two and a half hours away.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance should include supplemental health insurance and adventure insurance, especially if you plan to ski or go rafting.

Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Red River Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan -6° C
Feb -4° C
Mar 0° C
Apr 4° C
May 8° C
Jun 13° C
Jul 16° C
Aug 14° C
Sep 11° C
Oct 6° C
Nov -1° C
Dec -5° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
3481217232523201473
Low
°C
-14-12-8-5-13652-3-9-13
High
°F
373946546373777368574537
Low
°F
7101823303743413627169

New Mexico - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
Alamogordo73
Albuquerque31
Carlsbad74
Chama73
Deming62
Elephant Butte73
Farmington52
Gallup46
Las Cruces46
Los Alamos71
Raton68
Red River72
Rio Rancho72
Ruidoso72
Santa Fe32
Silver City72
Socorro73
Taos77
Truth or Consequences74
Tucumcari73

Where to Next?

5 Reviews on Red River

  1. V
    Valentino Butler says:

    I recently visited Red River and had an amazing experience! The town felt very safe, and the locals were friendly and welcoming. I explored the beautiful landscapes and enjoyed outdoor activities without any concerns. It’s a destination worth considering for your next travel adventure!

  2. M
    Michael Perkins says:

    Safety was a top priority for me when planning my trip to Red River. I did some research beforehand and found that it has a low crime rate and a tight-knit community. During my visit, I felt secure exploring the town and its surroundings. If you’re looking for a peaceful and safe travel destination, Red River is a great choice.

  3. J
    Jaxson Yates says:

    I had the pleasure of visiting Red River last summer, and safety was never a question for me. The town is known for its family-friendly atmosphere, and I observed a strong sense of community. Whether you’re hiking the trails or strolling through the streets, you’ll likely feel the same sense of security that I did.

  4. P
    Peyton Olsen says:

    I had a fantastic time in Red River, and safety was not an issue. The town is well-maintained, and the locals take pride in creating a secure environment for visitors. I explored both popular tourist spots and hidden gems without encountering any problems. Red River is a gem itself and offers a safe and enjoyable travel experience.

  5. G
    Gael Hess says:

    Safety was a major concern for me, and I’m happy to share that my recent trip to Red River was trouble-free. The town has a reputation for being a safe destination, and I felt comfortable exploring its charming streets and outdoor attractions.

Red River Rated 5 / 5 based on 5 user reviews.

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