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No doubt you’ve heard of Roswell, Carlsbad, and the many attractions of southeastern New Mexico – but have you been there? Enjoy this scenic loop-tour of the Land of Enchantment’s southeast corner, and find yourself among stunning caverns, quaint museums, Old West sites, and even the unknown.
Set in southern New Mexico, Ruidoso is a scenic city surrounded by suburbs like Alto, Mascalero, and Ruidoso Downs.
Ruidoso – all of it. Head Ski Apache for a gorgeous gondola ride to the top of Sierra Blanca, and feast your eyes on the surrounding White Mountain Wilderness.
You’re in Billy the Kid Country now. Ruidoso is immersed in Old West history, so be sure to visit the Hubbard Museum of the American West, Old Lincoln State Monument, Flying J Ranch, and the Fort Stanton State Historic Site.
Look forward to hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing throughout the surrounding Lincoln National Forest. Enjoy some fun on Grindstone Lake or Mescalero Lake, or try horseback riding with Grindstone Stables or Cowboys Riding Stables.
Hop on U.S. Route 70 and head east for 75 miles until you reach Roswell – yep, that Roswell.
Roswell features a full itinerary for those seeking to dig into its UFO-centric past. Check out the International UFO Museum & Research Center, or see if you can catch the annual the Amazing Roswell UFO Festival – a major summer event.
However, it’s not all aliens in Alien City. Other attractions include the Walker Aviation Museum, the Roswell Museum & Art Center, Spring River Zoo, and much more.
Just 15 miles from Roswell on 1,400 acres, Bottomless Lakes State Park offers boating, swimming, fishing, and even scuba diving. The first of New Mexico’s state parks, Bottomless Lakes also features hiking, picnicking, and bird watching.
The city of Artesia is located just 40 miles south of Roswell on U.S. Route 285.
A historic town radiating with traces of early America, Artesia features a Walking Tour starting at the Historic Train Depot – also serving as the Artesia Visitors Center. You’ll stroll past bronze memorials set throughout town like “The Cattle Drive,” “First Lady of Artesia Monument,” and “Pioneering Endurance.”
The Artesia Historical Museum & Art Center gives visitors and in-depth look at the history and heritage of the Artesia area, as well as the local arts scene. Open Tuesday through Saturday, the museum itself is housed by a quaint Moore-Ward cobblestone home.
Found 17 miles south of Artesia, Brantley Lake State Park is ideal for fishing, boating, swimming, sailing, and water skiing.
Sticking to U.S. Route 285, travel south for 40 miles to Carlsbad – and only 15 miles from Brantley Lake.
Carlsbad is most famous for the neighboring Carlsbad Caverns National Park – giving the town the nickname of “Cavern City.” This underground adventure is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is known for such stops as the Balloon Ballroom, the Green Lake Room, the Bat Cave, and the Hall of the Giants.
For some aboveground fun, check out the free Carlsbad Museum & Art Center. Established in 1931, the museum showcases exhibits on Carlsbad and southern New Mexican heritage, plus a gift shop. Special events include Zia Quilt Guild Show, Movie in the Park, and family-fun nights.
Another New Mexico state park, the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens State Park features outdoor activities on the Pecos River, as well as a Chihuahuan Desert botanical garden. Spanning 1,500 acres, the zoo is home to over 40 species of animals, and offers hiking trails, picnic spots, and of course, wildlife viewing.
From Carlsbad, take U.S. Route 82 west back to Ruidoso – completing this scenic loop through southeastern New Mexico.