We just returned from an wonderful vacation to Cloudcroft New Mexico, which is nestled up in the mountains in the Lincoln National Forest. Cloudcroft is in some ways both a sleepy little mountain town and a vibrant hub of activity in the Lincoln National forest. While there are a few small ski slopes and snow tubing areas, the area around Cloudcroft really shines in the summer and fall. If you want bigger ski slopes, casinos and luxury accommodations there is always the Ski Apache resort located a few miles away near Ruidoso. Just outside of Cloudcroft, along U.S. 82, are the trail heads of a couple of really nice hiking trails. Among them are the OSHA trail, a 2.6 mile loop that takes you along an ecosystem called the “Canadian Life Zone” where there are Douglas fir trees, aspens and other high alpine vegetation. Another nice hiking trail is the Trestle Trail, which follows the route of an old steam train railway that once came all the way up from the desert floor some 4000 feet below. Here is a photo of the OSHA trail near Cloudcroft New Mexico.
Just about a half – hour’s drive from Cloudcroft is the magnificent White Sands National Monument, which consists of thousands of acres of pure – white gypsum sand. It is a surreal scene and home to many desert animals such as the kit fox. See the photo below of White Sands National Monument. White Sands National Monument is well worth seeing for its stark beauty. You can see the White Sands National Monument far below from a couple of places high up in the mountains outside of Cloudcroft New Mexico. In fact, we could see the desert below from our hotel room in the historic Lodge At Cloudcroft. This beautiful old historic hotel, seen in the second photo, has been visited by many famous people including Judy Garland and Clark Gable. We saw their names etched on the wall of the observation room at the top of the hotel.
The next photo is of the view from our hotel room at The Lodge At Cloudcroft which was built at the turn of the century. The hotel sits at nearly 9000 feet above sea level. Being a nerdy ham radio operator this presented the perfect location do do a few DX experiments with both HF and VHF radio gear, as well as monkey around with a long range 802.11 wireless adapter and antenna that I bought recently.
Like to see how far you can pick up WiFi? I used a high gain grid parabolic WiFi antenna and from our hotel parking lot was able to connect to an open hotspot over thirty miles away. You can read about my experiment in nearby Sunspot with a very long range WiFi antenna here: Very Long WiFi Internet Connection From Sunspot New Mexico
Other things to do near Cloudcroft New Mexico include driving down to Ruidoso New Mexico and catching a horse race or two. You can find a schedule of horse races at GoRuidoso.com
For science and astronomy buffs there is the New Mexico Museum of Space History in nearby Alamogordo. It contains actual lunar modules, rockets and all kinds of space exploration related exhibits. You can call them at 877-333-6589 for complete details on hours, etc.
Another site worth seeing is the National Solar Observatory which is very close to Cloudcroft in the tiny town of Sunspot New Mexico. You can see some of the world’s largest solar observation equipment and actually walk inside the main solar telescope. Below is a photo of one of the largest solar telescopes in the world at the NSO in Sunspot New Mexico.
In addition to the above activities in Cloudcroft New Mexico there are some nice bars and restaurants in town. You sort of get that “wild west” feeling only a short walk away from your hotel or guest house, with historic bars and live entertainment throughout the year. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Cloudcroft and found all of the activities we needed for a full and exciting vacation. Next time we are going to bring our backpacks and try some of the longer hiking trails near Cloudcroft.