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Red River, New Mexico Travel Guide
Last Updated: Aug-03-2012, Hits: 4,591, Rating: 0, Reviews: 0, Votes: 0 Bookmark and Share
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Red River, New Mexico Travel Guide Hotels and Lodging (24)
Restaurants (14)
Bars and Nightlife (4)
Attractions (13)
Services (3)
Maps (1)
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New Mexico Travel Forum (3)
Taos, New Mexico Travel Guide
Location: North America
Geography: Mountains
Vacation Type: Family, Adventure
Popularity: Off-the-Beaten Path
Costs: Budget, Moderate
Attractions: Skiing, Scenery, Camping, Fishing, Hiking, Rafting

Facts and Stats:
Population: 477
Land Area: 1.0 square mile
Elevation: 8,750 feet
Country Dialing Code: 1
Area Code: 575
Languages: English
Electricity: 110V
Currency: US Dollar
Time Zone: Mountain Standard Time (MST): UTC-7 (Summer: UTC-6)
Current Time:

Red River is an excellent year-round getaway for outdoor lovers. This rustic town provides a base for hiking, biking, fishing, ATV's, rafting, and horseback riding during the summer months. Winters are all about skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling.

Red River is located in Taos County in northern New Mexico, and is only 36 miles from the city of Taos. Red River is perched in a valley in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains - part of the southern Rocky Mountains. It is surrounded by the Carson National Forest. Red River was built at the base of Black Mountain which rises 10,350 feet, and is home to the Red River Ski Area.

The town is named after the short stream that flows down the north side of Wheeler Peak (the tallest mountain in the state at 13,161 feet), and through the valley at the base of Black Mountain. After the river leaves the mountains, it empties into the Rio Grande.

Brief History:
Although not settled until the late 1800's, for hundreds of years, the Taos area was home to Ute and Jicarilla indians who likely explored the Red River Valley. In the 1860's, prospectors found copper and gold in nearby Elizabethtown, and it wasn't long until gold was discovered in the mountains. Beginning in the 1870's gold miners and trappers flocked to Red River City, as it was called then, and the population grew to over 3,000 by 1895.

The mines quickly "dried out" and Red River nearly became a ghost town for a while. In 1916, the town received a big boost with the opening of the Red River Pass Road that replaced the wagon trail.

During the 1920's, the Oldham and Young families built resorts in Red River, and thus the tourism trade began. It wasn't long before the area was designated a "mountain playground" that attracted tourists from lower elevations wanting to escape the summer heat.

In 1940, L.S. Lewis opened a ski area which consisted of a rope tow. In 1958, S.E. Bolton began the ski resort of today starting with a single homemade chairlift.

Today, Red River subsists almost solely on tourism.

People & Culture:
At its core, Red River is a ski town that also features year-round recreation. The town's population of less than 500 swells to over 10,000 during the peak ski season. Many of the visitors are from Amarillo, Texas (6 hours away), and quite a few from Oklahoma as well.

Red River isn't Aspen as evidenced by the odd mix of old western buildings, European chalets, and rustic cabins. It's a down to earth place with reasonable prices, and a lot of family recreation opportunities.

For a small town, Red River features a number of festivals and exhibitions. The Memorial Day Motorcycle Rally welcomes over 30,000 bikers each spring. Other summer events include the Red River Classic Car Show, the River and Brews Blues Fest, the Fine Art and Wine Festival, and the Harder than Hell Mountain Bike Race.

Food & Nightlife:
The majority of the restaurants in town serve traditional American food. There are a few pizza joints, and a couple of Mexican restaurants as well. There is one grocery store in town for those staying in self-catering lodging.

While there aren't a lot of bars in Red River, drinking after skiing (or whatever outdoor activity) is what happens in towns like this. The drinking age in the United States is 21.

Money & Costs:
Red River is geared toward family fun, and as such, it is on the affordable end of the pricing range. Most accomodations are in the $100-$150 range, and entrees in most restaurants are less than $15. Skiing tends to be expensive no matter where you go.

The Peoples Bank is the only bank in town, however, there are a number of ATMs available.

The state sales tax rate is 5.125%, and tipping is a U.S. standard rate of 15%-20%.

Getting There & Around:
No matter how you slice it, you will have to drive to Red River. The only question is "how far"? If you are flying in, you will likely arrive in Santa Fe or Albuquerque. Rental cars are readily available at both airports.

The following table shows the driving distances to nearby cities.

Angel Fire, NM29
Taos, NM36
Santa Fe, NM106
Albuquerque, NM165
Colorado Springs, CO206
Denver, CO274
Amarillo, TX287

The town itself is only about 1 mile long by 3 blocks wide making it very walkable. In the winter, several of the lodging options are ski-in/ski-out. You can also rent bicycles during the warmer months.

Winters in Red River are cold and snowy with March being the snowiest month. Summers are moderate with highs in the 70's and increasing rain.

Below are the current conditions and weather forecast for Red River, New Mexico.

The table below shows the average high and low temperatures.

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg High 37 40 46 54 64 73 76 73 68 57 45 37
Avg Low 8 12 17 24 31 37 42 42 35 26 17 9
Precipitation 1.09" 1.49" 2.00" 2.02" 1.80" 1.42" 2.86" 3.27" 2.07" 1.84" 1.50" 1.31"
Snowfall 20.3" 22.2" 29.5" 21.9" 7.6" 0.1" 0.4" 0.0" 0.7" 8.0" 16.6" 19.2"

  • Emergency - 911
  • Operator - 0
  • Directory Assistance - 411
Tips & Additional Information:
  • There are bears in the area. Do not, under any circumstances, feed them. Not only is it illegal, it causes them to become more aggressive which often ends in their demise. Campers should take appropriate measures to keep their food safe from bears.
  • Red River is a at a very high elevation, and those not used to it may experience altitude sickness. For more information on symptoms and prevention, read Preventing Altitude Sickness.
  • The visitors center provides hiking trail maps.

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