Visit the many museums and historic attractions in Ruidoso and surrounding towns of Lincoln, Alto, Ft. Stanton, Carrizozo, Corona and Fort Sumner. Whether it’s a museum on native american history or Billy the Kid, experience times long ago.
Home to New Mexico’s first Smithsonian Institution Affiliate museum Hubbard Museum of the American West, is a monument to times and places that are not quite as far off as you may think. It is a place where visitors can experience the West and three area cultures – Native American, Hispanic and Pioneer.
The museum’s 10,000 plus piece collection includes wagons, carriages, saddles, firearms, artwork and Native American artifacts. Bring the kids to visit the state-of-the-art interactive learning center and children’s area.
Open seven days a week, excluding some holidays. 9 am – 4:30 pm. Admission: Adults, $6; Seniors and Military, $5; Children 6-16, $2; Under 6, Free.Located on US Hwy 70, immediately adjacent to the Billy the Kid Scenic Byway Center in Ruidoso Downs. 575.378.4142.
The Ruidoso River Museum features displays dedicated to Pat Garrett and participants of the Lincoln County War, including Billy the Kid. On display are photographs, biographies, and artifacts, including Garrett’s badge and gun, which were presented to him after he killed Billy the Kid. Also housed here are Marie Antoinette’s crown, a death mask from ancient Egypt, jewels from around the globe, and items from the R.M.S. Titanic. Featured are items from celebrities like Elvis and Marilyn. The upper floor is rife with fossils and offers a dinosaur bone visitors are invited to touch. Also see Alien Encounter, populated with props from The X-Files. The gift shop offers jewelry reminiscent of the Southwest, rocks, fossils, post cards, and toys.
101 Mechem Drive, Open Thursday – Monday, 10 am – 5 pm. Admission is $5 per adult and $2.50 per child. Active duty military personnel, fire fighters, and police officers are admitted free of charge. 575.257.0296.
The seven-story landmark architecture of Antoine Predock is worth the photo alone, but inside there are four major installations by Seattle glass sculptor Dale Chihuly. The Spencer also has a live touring performance approximately every 11 days year-round. Located NM 220 on the way to Ft. Stanton from NM 48 (northeast of Ruidoso). Open Tuesday and Thursday (except show dates) for guided tours. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated. 888.818.7872.
Ruidoso’s oldest building, Dowlin Mill, is one of those landmarks that visitors to Ruidoso remember long after leaving. The iconic large-scale water wheel that greets visitors is one of the only remaining operable water wheels in the Southwest and today still turns the massive stones used to grind wheat.
The building itself also speaks to its native heritage with its adobe and rock walls, wood floors and tin roof. In fact, in its earlier days it served as the perfect backdrop for dinner parties and dances, with such notable guests as the infamous outlaw William Bonney, or “Billy the Kid.” Billy, who was well-liked by the Dowlin and Lesnet families, was even said to have escaped capture at the mill when the young Annie Lesnet helped hide him in a flour barrel, thanks to his small stature, as the posse approached.
Read about the history of the Dowlin Mill.
Area Museums and Historic Sites
Old Lincoln County Courthouse, Skipworth – Dr. Woods Mansion, Tunstall Store Museum, Torreon & Montano Store, Anderson-Freeman Museum, Lincoln, NM. Lincoln’s idyllic and picturesque setting belies its violent past. The single road through Lincoln was once described by President Hayes as “the most dangerous street in America.” This National Historic Landmark is considered by many historians to be the most authentic old west town remaining the United States. Visit six museums operated by the Lincoln State Monument and see numerous other historic buildings much as they looked in 1880. Extensive exhibits document the history of the region, focusing on the Lincoln County War (depicted in the movie “Young Guns”). Visit restaurants and gift shops.
Old Lincoln Days and Pageant are held annually the first full weekend in August and other special events occur throughout the year. State monument museums are open every day, except Christmas, New Year’s, Easter and Thanksgiving. The Tunstall Store and Dr. Woods House are closed November 1 through April 1. Located 12 miles east of Capitan on US 380 (30 miles north of Ruidoso). Admission to the museums is $5 per adult; children 16 and under are free with paying adult. Free admission is offered to New Mexico residents on Sundays and to New Mexico Seniors on Wednesdays. 575.653.4372.
This 150-year-old pre-Civil War fort (1855) was home at one time to Kit Carson, the Buffalo Soldiers, “Black Jack” Pershing, WWII German prisoners and Billy the Kid. The fort is open daily for self-guided tours. “Fort Stanton Live!” is an annual July event; the fort is converted into a living history stage with military re-enactors, storytellers, Mescalero Apache dancers, Buffalo Soldiers and more. Located NM 220 between NM 48 and US 380 (northeast of Ruidoso). Museum hours vary. Admission is free. 575.630.0044.
Smokey Bear Historical Park and Museum, Capitan, NM
Everything you ever wanted to know about Lincoln County’s most famous bear. Kids love the full-size talking bear. View a short documentary in the small theater detailing the rescue of the bear cub found in a 17,000-acre forest fire in the nearby Capitan Mountains. Smokey is buried in the park next door. Located at 118 Smokey Bear Blvd., Capitan (US 380 between Carrizozo and Lincoln). Open daily 9-5. Admission: Adults $2, kids 7-12, $1, 6 and under free. 575.354.2748.
A small one-room cabin on the other side of the historic park contains a collection of (not-for-sale) items that feature Smokey’s image. If you are looking for Smokey souvenirs, this is the place to be. Located at 102 Smokey Bear Blvd. Open in the summer, 9-5 daily. Admission is free. 575.354.2298.
Billy the Kid Museum
Established in 1952 by Ed and Jewel Sweet and in its 61st year of as a family-owned and operated business. Open daily. Summer Hours May 15th thru October 1st, 8:30 am- 5:00 pm; Winter Hours Oct. 1-May 15, Mon.- Sat., 8:30 am-5:00 pm; Adults-$5; Senior Adults-$4; Children 7-15 yrs-$3; Ages 6 and under FREE. 575.355.2380.
Old Fort Sumner Museum and Gravesite of Billy the Kid
Open daily 8:30 am-5:00 pm year-round. Adults $4; Senior Adults-$3; Children 7-15 yrs-$2; Ages 6 and under FREE. 575.355.2492.
Bosque Redondo Memorial, NM State Monument
Walk with us into the Navajo and Mescalero Apache cultures and trace the history of their incarceration at Bosque Redondo known as “The Long Walk.” Open daily Wed.-Mon., 8:30 am-4:30 pm. Closed Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Admission: $3 (free to Seniors on Wednesdays and to New Mexico residents on Sundays). 575.355.2573. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Village of Fort Sumner
Our friendly western village offers many amenities including a stroll along the historic Pecos River, water sports at Lake Sumner, Old Fort Museum and Billy the Kid’s Gravesite, Bosque Redondo Memorial, Dazend Movie Museum and historical murals at the De Baca County Courthouse.
Once the second largest city in the state, White Oaks is just a ghost of what it was before residents tried to charge the railroad for right-of-way (and lost) and the gold mines ran out. One of the surviving gems is the finest example of an eastern-influenced, brick, four-room school house left in New Mexico today. Much of the structure is exactly as it was when it was built in 1895. There is a small museum on the second floor documenting the past and many of the families that went to school there. Located 12 miles northeast of Carrizozo, via US 54 and NM 349. Open Saturday, 10-4 and Sunday, noon-4; Memorial Day through Labor Day. Admission: $2 per person. 575.648.2521.
A restored 1800s family home from the gold-boom era. Self-guided tour. The nearby cemetery is the resting spot for the first governor of New Mexico, Susan McSween Barber and Deputy James Bell (killed by Billy the Kid when he escaped from the Lincoln County Courthouse). Located 12 miles northeast of Carrizozo, via US 54 and NM 349. Open daily, 9-5; Memorial Day through Labor Day. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.
Carrizozo Heritage Museum, Carrizozo, NM
The focus of this fledgling museum is the community’s past as a railroad boom-town. Nice barbed-wire exhibit and gift shop. 103 12th Street, Carrizozo (intersection US 54 and 380). Open Wednesday through Saturday, 10-2. Closed January and February. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated. 575.648.2102.
The Corona Museum shares space in an old hotel with a lending library. The museum features heirlooms and antiques from local families dating from the late 1800s and early 1900s. Located about 46 miles north of Carrizozo on US 54. Open May 1 – November 1; Monday through Saturday, 9-5. 575.849.8371.