New Mexico : Safety by City
- Elephant Butte
- Las Cruces
- Los Alamos
- Red River
- Rio Rancho
- Santa Fe
- Silver City
- Truth or Consequences
Tucked 7,000 feet into the Sierra Blanca mountains, Ruidoso, New Mexico, offers stunning views before you even leave downtown.
Then a world of outdoor adventures awaits.
The Mescalero Apache tribe originally inhabited the area until the late 1800s, when settlers moved into the region.
Ruidoso (“REE-uh-dose-oh”) was formally established in 1953 and has since become a popular tourist destination.
Visitors to Ruidoso can enjoy the winter village that transforms into a bustling ski resort as enthusiasts flock to the slopes of Ski Apache.
It’s the southernmost ski resort in the United States!
Warmer months bring opportunities for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and fishing along the Rio Ruidoso, which means “Noisy River” in Spanish.
How about a ride on a mountain roller coaster or a night at the horse racing track?
The historic downtown district reflects Ruidoso’s Wild West roots with wooded boardwalks, rustic storefronts, and Native American artwork.
While Taos gets a lot of attention as a resort destination in this state, there are many reasons to reconsider Ruidoso.
You’ll also be just an hour from the famed White Sands National Park.
Warnings & Dangers in Ruidoso
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here with crime rates that aren't concerning at face value, but when you consider the nearly two million people who visit here each year, they become even lower. Plus, you have SO MUCH to do here in safe and exciting places.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Since the village is two and a half hours from the closest commercial airport, a rental car investment will go a long way. If you choose to get to Ruidoso by bus or shuttle, you'll have taxis and rideshares available in town. All options are at low risk.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
You should treat this with a medium risk, simply because it's such a huge tourist town. Moreover, you'll be carrying more stuff than you normally would due to the outdoor recreation options. No data suggests there is a rash of pickpockets, but you don't want to let your guard down.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Wildfires are the biggest risk in this mountain community. While snowstorms are needed to fuel the ski industry, large storms can leave roads impassable. Summer thunderstorms or flooding on the river are a few more concerns. All that adds up to medium risk, but just so you'll stay weather aware.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here. Some resort robberies have been reported, targeting the front desk, and a rash of elderly victims having their homes robbed have been reported. However, there's a low risk of a tourist coming face-to-face with a mugger.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
This is a low risk, mostly because it's not considered a hard target, even as a resort community. But also the nearby White Sands Missile Range would be a much more prominent potential target.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
Most scams reported here over the past few years target residents and the elderly. There haven't been major tourist scams, but you should always use caution when renting a home instead of using a traditional resort. Review common rental scams on the Better Business Bureau website.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Ruidoso is a great place for mothers and solo female travelers with so many activities that range from family-friendly to adrenaline-pumping. Of course, you still need standard safety steps and outdoor survival skills, but the risk here is low if you're using common sense.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2022 Water Quality Report shows full compliance and no violations. The bigger concern here is the lack of water, leading some to think Ruidoso will run out of water. That's simply not true. You can read on the city's website what is being done to replenish water and conserve resources in this resort community. Even with that sigh of relief, there might be times you have stringent rules about water use. Check the city's utility website section or ask your resort when booking what the latest water restrictions will be.
Safest Places to Visit in Ruidoso
Since Ruidoso has so many things to do and places to see, your best starting point would be the Visit Ruidoso website from a local marketing company or the Discover Ruidoso website through the Village of Ruidoso Tourism Department.
The tourism department website is much more robust and has a mobile app, but I do love the blog and history lessons from the marketing company too.
I will admit that I’ve written about a lot of small-town “resort destinations,” and Ruidoso is one of the most “impressed the heck out of me” locations I’ve come across.
I’ve definitely put this town on my next mountain getaway, and that’s saying a lot as someone who lived near Lake Tahoe for five years.
The village of Ruidoso has several sections to visit.
Let me tell you, Midtown Ruidoso is the place to shop ’til you drop in Lincoln County!
It is loaded with cute boutiques, galleries, restaurants – you name it.
The vibe is so lively and fun.
You can spend hours browsing and exploring.
A must-do is to check out the Ruidoso Mural Walk.
It’s 10 spectacular murals painted on buildings by local artists.
Another great thing about Midtown is the nightlife.
Several bars and clubs draw crowds after dark for drinking and dancing.
It gets pretty hopping!
When you’ve shopped and partied to your heart’s content, Midtown has fabulous restaurants for refueling.
This is the upper-echelon of resorts in the area, but also home to the 18-hole Links at Sierra Blanca, and the Adventure Mountain Family Fun Center.
Kid’s Konnection playground at White Mountain Recreational Complex is a fun spot for kids with a breathtaking view along the hiking trails.
Ruidoso Downs is home to the world’s richest quarter horse race ($3 million!!!) at the Ruidoso Downs Race Track and Casino.
Catch racing every weekend in summer.
Year-round entertainment includes festivals, concerts, and events at the new Santa Fe Furniture Event Center.
Don’t miss the Summer Concert Series, Chile the Kid Fest, and Cowboyfest!
The Mescalero Apache reservation offers stunning scenery and attractions like the Inn of the Mountain Gods resort, Ski Apache, and the annual Ceremonial Dances & Rodeo.
Stay at the luxury resort or visit for gambling, ziplining, concerts, hunting, and golf.
Don’t miss the historic St. Joseph Apache Mission Church, open daily for visitors to explore.
Ski Run Road
The scenic Ski Run Road leads up to Ski Apache with stunning mountain vistas along the way.
Stop at the overlooks for panoramic views.
Don’t miss the Apache Wind Rider Ziptour, the highest and fastest zipline in the area, starting at 11, 489 feet elevation and reaching 60+ mph!
The nearby town of Alto expands the list of things to do, with my best recommendation being the Flying J Ranch Western Stage Show.
You can also feast on the “Chuckwagon Supper” and try your luck panning for gold or explore the Bonita City shopping options.
Places to Avoid in Ruidoso
You won’t find dangerous parts of town here.
This resort community is welcoming to tourists and has one of the most classic laid-back vibes I’ve seen.
One thing to avoid doing is assuming that an activity is right for you.
For activities like horseback rides and ziplining, check the height and weight limits and restrictions before you buy tickets.
For example, most ziplines have a weight minimum of 45 pounds and a limit of 250 pounds.
Another example is the Screaming Eagle Mountain Coaster, which has restrictions like kids must be 36″ tall and three years or older to be a passenger.
Coaster drivers must be at least 52″ tall and at least nine years old.
You should avoid heading up the mountain roads or going onto the trails without knowing the road conditions.
Visit the NMDOT website for current road advisory information or call 1(800) 432-4269.
Check wildfire information at NM Fire Info’s website.
Never plan a long hike if storms are in the forecast.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Ruidoso
- Riudoso does have its own police department, and you can follow them on Facebook @ruidosopolice. The phone number is (575) 258-7365.
- While you can follow the social media sites of the tourist publications, you should also follow the village Facebook page @villageofruidoso. The village will post more localized events and safety concerns, like water supply issues.
- Sign up for emergency alerts through callmeruidoso.com. This will send important weather and safety alerts right to your mobile device. Lincoln County, which surrounds the village, also has a notification system through the CodeRED website and app.
- If you’ll be in the wilderness, bring a NOAA weather radio to cover emergency notifications when you’re out of mobile phone range.
- Wildfire risks aren’t just possible here. The village experienced a tragedy in 2022 when the McBridge Fire destroyed 200 homes and took two lives. You will see scorched areas from this fire. Always follow fire advisories and evacuation orders. The two people who died in that fire were an elderly couple who were planning to evacuate but didn’t make it in time.
- The local police department posts a weekly list of crimes on its website. Look for the Weekly Police Blotter Reports. This will help you get a better grasp of crime trends before your visit.
- Mountain lions and bears live in this region and occasionally will be seen in town. Mountain lions are much more likely to see you and run. Bears generally want nothing to do with you, but even something as simple as walking around with a sandwich in your backpack can attract them if the food isn’t in a bear-proof container.
- The road to get to Ski Apache is steep and winding. There are plenty of blind turns. You must keep both hands on the wheel and eyes on the road at all times. If you want to view the scenery, wait until you get to a scenic viewpoint.
- If you’re coming here for skiing, you might want to give yourself an extra day at the start of the trip to adjust to the altitude. Ruidoso is at 7,000 feet above sea level, but Ski Apache is at 11,000 feet or more. You just need to give your body time to acclimate and stay hydrated. Know the signs of altitude sickness.
- Anglers need a fishing license from the New Mexico Department of Fish & Game. Kids over 11 and adults under 70 are required to have a license at all times while fishing. You can purchase it online ahead of your trip, so you don’t need to stop at a sporting goods store in town.
So... How Safe Is Ruidoso Really?
Ruidoso police haven’t released official crime data since 2020, which means any information we could use is outdated.
The village does have a pattern between 2011 and 2020 of having a violent crime rate 20% lower than the national average.
However, that number doesn’t take into account the nearly two million visitors who visit each year.
The property crime rate is 138% higher than the national average, with theft and burglary being the two biggest categories.
Again, that doesn’t consider the number of tourists or the small population of the town, which can skew data easily with a few crimes one way or another.
Even if the village is safe, it’s not immune to violent crime or random acts of crime against strangers.
In 2022, a man broke into a home and abducted the woman inside.
He forced her at knifepoint to drive as he gave instructions.
She ended up crashing the car into another car at a convenience store to get the attention of someone else.
The man ran off.
“Whenever a crime like this does happen, it’s a little saddening, you know, because this is a small village and it takes a village to raise a family, so to speak,” said Ruidoso Police Chief Lawrence Chavez.
“We help each other out and whenever something like this happens, it takes a toll on everybody.”
Those crimes are rare, but not unheard of in this village.
It’s wise to use all the travel safety steps you’d take in any community.
Don’t leave items in your car.
Lock your car every time you leave it and never let anyone see you stashing valuables in the trunk.
When it comes to outdoor activities, pace yourself.
Don’t overdo it and know the signs of heat and cold weather-related illnesses.
Learn about wildlife safety.
Take the time to enjoy the mountain air before going to the higher elevations.
I hope to see you in Ruidoso!
How Does Ruidoso Compare?
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- Visas - International visitors must apply for a visa or visa waiver before visiting, and that process can take months. You also should have a passport that doesn't expire within six months of the day you leave the U.S. Check the Customs and Border Patrol websites for what you can bring in and out of the country.
- Currency - You should exchange currency before you arrive in Ruidoso. Your home bank will have the best rates, and if you do it ahead of time, that's one less thing you have to do when you're on your way to this mountain hamlet.
- Weather - The weather here is mild for a mountain town, with some winter temperatures staying in the 40s and 50s for highs. From November through April, lows will be at or below freezing. Summer won't get above the low 80s (on average). Plan appropriately for the season you'll be here and always bring a few extra warm layers. Hiking boots and/or snow boots are needed for mountain activities. Don't forget sunscreen and sunglasses.
- Airports - You'll be about two and a half hours from Albuquerque and El Paso, both of which both have commercial airlines. Ruidoso only has an airport for private planes and charters.
- Travel Insurance - To fully enjoy activities here without worrying about the "worst case scenario," you should have travel insurance, travel health insurance, and adventure insurance. Most amusement parks and ski resorts will have you waive any liability before you can enter.
Ruidoso Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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