Charming Red River, New Mexico

Town of Red River, New Mexico from ski lift
Let's go on a road trip to the mountains to escape this Texas heat!  There was only one place that came to mind.  A place we had visited many times in the past during the winter and a few times during the summer.  The decision was made, we would go to Red River, New Mexico.  A visit to the Weather Channel web page for Red River soon gave way to making plans to get there and FAST!

Red River, New Mexico is located in north central New Mexico at an elevation of 8,750 feet.  This small mountain town has a population of less than 500 people.  You will easily be charmed by this gem of a town nestled in the Sangre de Christo mountains. Red River, New Mexico is a great escape anytime of the year. This year we visited during the summer months. I was very impressed with the family friendly atmosphere. Red River is a great place to bring your family while not breaking the budget.  

How do I get to Red River, New Mexico?

Drive: Red River, New Mexico is 160 miles from Albuquerque, New Mexico, 650 miles from Dallas, Texas, 260 miles from Denver, Colorado, 696 miles from Kansas City, Kansas, 586 miles from Phoenix, Arizona, & 520 miles from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Red River's location in north central New Mexico is within driving distance of several states.  

Fly: If you do not live within driving distance of Red River, New Mexico you can always fly. The closest major airport is Albuquerque, New Mexico. You can then rent a car and drive the 160 miles north through beautiful Santa Fe & Taos, New Mexico. There are regional airports in Angel Fire & Taos, New Mexico as well. 

Where can I stay in Red River, New Mexico?
When we visited Red River we rented a condo from a friend of the family.  Before we decided to rent a condo from a family friend we were looking at staying in a hotel.  On a typical vacation for our family of 3 a hotel is a good option as we do not need a lot of room and spend most of our time out exploring during the day. On this trip my son's grandparents and his cousin went with us giving us a total of 6 people. Therefore we could not stay in a hotel room, making the condo a better option. Here are your options for lodging in Red River, New Mexico.

  • Hotels: When I was looking for hotels I narrowed my choices to two - Best Western River's Edge & Copper King Lodge . 
  • Best Western River's Edge Red River, NM
    • Best Western River's Edge is located in the heart of town near the platinum chair lift right on the river. Some of the amenities offered include an indoor hot tub, made to order FREE breakfast, fishing from the deck, activities for children, and many other activities. Make sure you request a room facing the river so you can enjoy the sounds of the river at night as your sleep. Best Western River's Edge is easy walking distance to all of Red River. Rates range from $95 during off peak season up to $189 during peak season per night.
    • Copper King Lodge Red River, NM
    • Copper King Lodge is located on the river in the heart of town as well. In fact Copper King Lodge is ski in ski out from the copper chair lift. You will also find a large hot tub that overlooks the ski area. Copper King Lodge has BBQ pits for you to grill up dinner. Bring a fishing pole the river is stocked weekly with trout. Children & seniors (70+) can fish without a license. Room offerings range from motel units ($99 per night summer/winter) to three bedroom units ($165 per night summer/winter)
    Road Runner RV Resort
  • Camping: If you are traveling on a budget, camping is an inexpensive option for families.The area around Red River offers many options for camping.  After reviewing the options, I would recommend Road Runner RV Resort.  It is located on the Red River about 1 mile from town on 23 acres. Some of the amenities found at Road Runner RV Resort include basketball courts, a tennis court, putting green, & picnic areas. Nightly rates during the summer are around $60 per night for a 50 amp site with a travel trailer. Tent camping rates are less expensive, check the website for exact prices.
  • Condos/Houses: If you are looking to rent a condo or house while staying in Red River, NM you can visit the Red River Lodging website or online websites such as Vacation Rentals By Owner to find the perfect fit for your budget and family. One tip I can offer you is to choose a condo or house on the river in town. It is nice to be within walking distance of town and also have the option to step out of your room and fish in the river during the summer and walk to the ski lift during the winter. 
What is there to do in Red River, New Mexico?
Red River, NM has two tourist seasons, summer and winter. Depending on the time of year you visit the activities differ. We have visited Red River, New Mexico both summer and winter and enjoyed our visit on each occasion. Our last visit was August 2015. 
  • Summer Activities: If you are looking to escape the heat of summer, Red River is THE place for you.  We visited the first week in August and found daytime highs to be hovering around 78 degrees and lows dipping into the 40s.  What a difference from the Texas heat of 102 degrees! Here are some activities you could enjoy in Red River:
  • Fishing in the Red River Pond is FREE!
    Behind the pond is the Pioneer Flyer.
    • Go outside - Given the mild summer temperatures, one activity is just being outside, all day if you please. One afternoon we spent 2 hours playing Monopoly on the deck outside of our condo & we did not even break a sweat - you could not do that in Texas!
    • Fish - The town of Red River stocks the river & pond weekly with trout. Annually the Red River & the FREE children's town pond is stocked with more trout than any other river in the U.S. All anglers 12 years of age and older must have a fishing license to fish  in New Mexico. Licenses are available for 1 day to 1 year at a range of prices.  If you are over the age of 70 you are required to have a license but it is FREE. You can get your license online at the New Mexico Department of Game & Fish .  
    • Enjoy Red River Community House Activities for FREE: Since 1940 the Red River Community House has been providing family friendly activities June -August each year. We participated in a variety of family-friendly activities during our stay in Red River. 
    • Middle Fork Lake
      • One activity was a guided hike up to Middle Fork Lake. Our vehicle was too low to the ground and could not make the drive up to the trail head so one of the guides let us ride with her. We hiked up to the lake & had lunch in one of the most beautiful spots on Earth. The hike was 4 miles round trip & took approximately 5 hours. This hike has you climb to an elevation of 10,845' and has many switchbacks that are steep but wide.  This is a great hike for families through trees, by waterfalls, & traversing a creek.
      • S'mores & storytelling is offered two days per week in the evening.  We went to dinner around 5 PM (you beat the crowds & since my stomach was still on Texas time I was hungry) & then headed over to the Community House for some tasty s'mores at 6 PM.  
      Boat racing down the Red River in the heart of town.
      • Boat building & races was really fun too!  Two days per week the Community House has blocks of wood in different shapes, nails, & paint for children to build a boat with. After gathering 3-5 pieces of wood the children build and paint their boat.  After the paint has time to dry all of the boats are taken to the Red River nearby and are raced down the river. Prizes were awarded to 1st, 2nd, & 3rd place boats.  This was a great way to spend a couple of hours - I highly recommend this activity.
      • Movies in the Mountains occur every Wednesday night on the lawn of the Community House. A different family-friendly movie is shown each Wednesday night. Popcorn & water are offered for FREE as well. Remember to bring lawn chairs or blankets to lay on the lawn to watch the movie.  The temperature drops quickly so make sure you bundle up for this fun activity. 
      • Red River Community House
      • Other Community House activities that we did not have time to participate include: nature hike, smart photos with your smart phone, games on the lawn, line dancing, geocaching, kids nature hour, scrap booking, yoga, flower walk, CHILL (fun activities for teens), forty-two, & craftsman on the porch to name a few.  You can find the calendar of activities at the Red River Community House Calendar web page. The cost for these activities are FREE however they do ask for donations.  I highly recommend making a donation as the activities provided are well worth what you choose to donate. 
    Los Rios River Runners
    • White water rafting The Rio Grande River cuts through New Mexico near Taos. There are several white water rafting companies to choose including 3 in Red River - Sitzmark Sports, New Mexico Adventure Company, & Red River Off-road. We chose to drive to Taos so we could see the 2nd highest bridge in the U.S., the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge at 650 feet above the Rio Grande River. Therefore we used Los Rios River Runners (a Taos white water rafting company) for our rafting trip.  Los Rios was a great choice for us. The staff were professional & friendly. We had a blast rafting the A.M. Racecourse 1/2 day tour. We rafted in Class 1-3 rapids which are great for a family.  Cost: $54 for 13+ years and $44 for 12 & under is worth the money spent!
    • Take a Jeep Tour There are several companies around Red River that offer jeep tours. This year we did not have time to do this activity but in years past we have toured with Red River Off Road.  The tour is informative about the mines around town and the history of Red River. Sit back and enjoy the beauty of any one of their tours - you won't regret it! (Cost: varies depending on the tour your choose $49-$75 for adults, $32-$49 for children aged 4-12, & $20 for kids 3 & under.
    • Rent your own Jeep & tour off road There are several jeep rental places in Red River including Sitzmark, Big Horn Sports, & Red River Off Road.  The prices to rent a jeep by the day are between $200 & $250.
      Enchanted Circle New Mexico
    • Drive the Enchanted Circle This 85 mile scenic byway goes through valleys, mesas, mountains, & a national forest and is absolutely beautiful.  Stop and spend some time in each of the towns you visit including Questa, Taos, Angel Fire, Eagles Nest, and ending in Red River.
    • Hiking There are several hiking trails around Red River, New Mexico.  Hikes range from easy to very difficult, choose the best hike for the fitness level of your family. Visit the Red River, NM Hiking web page for more information about trails. Don't forget you are at a high altitude and will need to acclimate to the lack of oxygen. In addition to our hike up to Middle Fork Lake we also hiked the 2 mile nature trail. The 2 mile nature trail starts at the platinum chair lift in
      Nature Trail along river in Red River
      town and runs east along the river.  There are signs (most are damaged or missing) that provide information about the plants & wildlife.  I wish someone would repair the signs because what we could read was very informative. This trail is easy until you get to the edge of town and then it starts to get steeper.  We did not make it to the end of the trail & had to turn around because of time limitations. The section we hiked was good for a family - just watch for the narrow trail in places. Tip for hiking - get hiking poles for mountain hiking - it will keep you from falling & injuring yourself.  Hiking is a great way to explore the world on a budget as it costs nothing!

    Ski lift to the top of the mountain
    • Ride the ski lift to the top of the ski mountain During the summer months you can ride the ski lift to the top of the mountain.  The ride takes approximately 30 minutes up and then another 30 minutes down.  We (even the grandparents went on this one with us) rode the lift to the top and ate lunch at the Tip Restaurant (see my review below).  After lunch we spent about an hour hiking the backside of the mountain.  This was a fun activity, except from the tip of the mountain you must hike down which is great until you have to climb back up a blue (I thought it was a black but my husband said it was blue) ski slope.  It was not easy hiking back up to the chairlift that took us back to town. I highly recommend this activity. Cost: $17 for adults 20-59, $15 for seniors over 60, $13 for juniors 4-12, & $15 for teens.
    • Frisbee (Disc) Golf If you like Frisbee golf there is an 18 hole course that runs across the backside of the ski mountain.  Ride the ski lift to the top of the mountain and enjoy an afternoon of Frisbee golf! Cost:  $10 to rent some discs & the lift ticket to the top of the mountain (see above prices) - OR you can hike up the mountain...
      Pioneer Flyer
    • Ride the Pioneer Flyer New to Red River, NM in the summer of 2015 is the Pioneer Flyer.  The best way I can describe it is zip lining a short distance forward & backward. You are zipped backward approximately 150 yards over the town ponds up to the face of the mountain at heights of up to 70 feet and then you zip forward at speeds up to 35 mph back to the starting point. It takes right at 1 minute to ride this ride. My nephew & father in law did this activity and seemed to enjoy it.  Cost: $10 per person - you must be over 42" tall to ride this attraction.
    • Other Red River Ski Area activities we did not have time to complete include: Hidden Treasures Aerial Park (cost $25-$35 per person for 30 minutes) & summer mountain tubing on the longest runs in the U.S. (cost $23/hour or $18 for 3 runs).
  • Winter Activities When we have gone to Red River during the winter season in years past it was primarily to ski/snowboard.  Today you can do more than just ski or snowboard.  Some activities you could enjoy include snowmobile tours, sleigh rides, & snow mountain tubing.
What kind of restaurants are in Red River, New Mexico?
Red River offers a variety of restaurant types from which to choose. If you would like to have access to the menus for restaurants in Red River visit the Red River dining website.  We ate at the following restaurants on this trip to Red River:
Anchovies Pizza
  • Anchovies Pizza We really liked this pizza restaurant. They had seating both inside and outside (the temperature was cooler outside than inside). We had two 14" pizzas (working man & the pepperoni) to split between 6 people. There was plenty of food and the pizza was great.  You get FREE soda refills which not something I can say about most of the restaurants in Red River. I highly recommend Anchovies Pizza. Cost: $22 for a 14" pizza.

Sundance Restaurant 401 E. High St. Red River, NM
  • Sundance Restaurant Our family has visited Sundance Restaurant every trip for the past 20+ years. The food is always good and this trip was no exception. Sundance offers a variety of options from Mexican cuisine to steaks & chicken. Don't forget to top off your meal with a complimentary sopapilla. Sundance is located off the main street on the same street as the fire station. Tip: Call ahead and make reservations as Sundance is only open for dinner and tables fill fast. Cost: Approximately $15 per plate depending on what you order.
Trout & fried okra at Texas Reds Steakhouse

  • Texas Reds Steakhouse Texas Reds is another restaurant we visit each time we are in Red River.  Texas Reds Steakhouse offers everything from steaks, to chicken, to buffalo burgers. We enjoyed the peanuts & bread before our meal.  The potato soup my husband had was very good.  I enjoyed my salad with Texas Reds house dressing. Everyone at our table thought the food was great! We ordered trout, steak, chicken, & buffalo burgers and no one was disappointed. Do NOT miss Texas Reds Steakhouse on your trip to Red River. Tip: Get there early as they don't take reservations. Cost: $15-$30 per plate depending on what you order.
  • The Tip Restaurant on top of the ski mountain We rode the lift to the top of the mountain and thought it would be nice to eat in the beautiful surroundings. The Tip Restaurant serves burgers, hot dogs, & brats at prices that match the altitude - HIGH! A cheeseburger like what you get from your school cafeteria cost $9! A non-free refill soda costs $3! I could understand the cost IF the food was good, but it was not.  I do NOT recommend The Tip Restaurant unless you like school cafeteria hamburgers.  Cost: $9 for a cheeseburger, fries are an additional $4, and the soda is $3 with NO REFILLS. 
Dairy Bar has seating inside & outside.
  • Dairy Bar Restaurant Dairy Bar reminds me of a Dairy Queen with high prices and Frito Pie.  The food was average for a fast food restaurant. Once again there were NO FREE REFILLS on your drinks at Dairy Bar much like the other restaurants in town. My son had a wild west burger that was still pink in places - I would have been more worried except I don't think the burger was made with all beef. My husband and I had steak finger baskets that were pretty good for fast food. For dessert we split a chocolate milk shake that was not very tasty. Overall I would say this restaurant was average.  I am not sure I would visit again simply because of the pink hamburger meat and lack of free refills. Cost: $8 for burger, $8 for steak finger basket, $4 for milkshake.
  • TBucks Hole Thing is a breakfast and doughnut shop located on the west end of town.  The grandparents ate breakfast here and said the food was really good. They would recommend this restaurant for breakfast. Cost: Around $8 per breakfast plate ordered.
  • Taos, New Mexico We went whitewater rafting near Taos, New Mexico.  After rafting we decided to grab a bite to eat.  Taos is the biggest town around the Enchanted Circle.  With the size of Taos you get chain restaurants including places such as Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, Wendy's, & McDonalds.  We decided we would eat at Taco Bell in Taos and were not disappointed.  The restaurant was clean and the food was well prepared. I am not usually a fan of fast food restaurants but this one was better than most I have seen. 

Red River, New Mexico is a great family getaway. Whether you visit summer or winter you will not be disappointed in this quaint mountain town.  Try not to tell too many people about it though, because we want to keep it to ourselves... God bless & have many happy travels!