You round the mountainside after seeing nothing but rolling hills turning into mountains for a long while and the view opens to a town down in the valley. This town is Red River and one road will get you everywhere you need to go. You could walk the town length in less than 20 minutes. It’s full of local businesses and out of town visitors. Although this is one of New Mexico’s favorite ski towns- we came in the summer (I’m not much of a skier myself) and it was still glorious. 

I was lucky enough to tag along on my grandparent’s trip and we stayed in a rented out timeshare. We had a babbling brook right outside our back porch. There was a trail between the mountain base and creek that we walked almost daily. I was mind blown by the tree root system that had been eroded from mountain storm and snow runoff. They were exposed like masterpieces. The roots were as thick as trunks and had regrown bark from re-exposure. This made the area chipmunk heaven! They were running around all over the place, finding homes in the twisted root nooks. We saw new bird species and a snake. The deer were so used to people in the area that we saw people hand feeding them. The benches by the creek were the best place for nature and people watching. We sat out there every night talking, singing, playing guitar, and looking at the stars. We were lucky enough to be there during a full moon too and that was a sight to see over the mountains. My Mawmaw and I saw Elon Musk’s Starlink fly over one evening and I nearly convinced her they were aliens (I nearly convinced myself too lol). I jumped up off the bench screaming, “Mawmaw what is that in the sky?!” We had been talking aliens frequently on the trip because New Mexico has a big alien culture with a lot of stories and lore. 

Quite literally everywhere you could want to go in town is accessible by foot, so we would walk the main road exploring our new home for the next couple days. I always look for local breweries in new places I travel to. So, we drank local cider and beer at Red River Brewing Company. I ate my first Reuben here and it rocked my world. I haven’t had a Rueben that good since then. They set the bar high.

One night after leaving, we popped in the ‘Community House’ for some free square & line dancing. While I could get down with line dancing (because I was solely responsible for myself), square dancing was its own ballgame and its players were serious! My group consisted of my Mawmaw, a little girl (who knew more than me), her mom, a couple seasoned square dance veteran men (who were keeping us all ‘in line’, or at least trying to), and me. I could usually win them back over by flashing a giggle and a smile, but they wanted me to get it right. Listen, I was there for fun, not to learn this dance step for step.

Red River is also home to the most unique coffee shop locations I’ve ever been to- Steam Coffee & Tea Co.- which found a home in a renovated steam engine, hence the name alongside their steamy delicious drinks. It’s very small with limited seating, but they had just started demo for overflow outdoor seating. Although it’s little, the vibes are lovely, aesthetic is cozy, and customer service is friendly! There is a small wood stove, comfortable couch, some window seats, and we found a fun book about local history that taught us a few things. I had one of the best London Fogs EVER here. It was called an Enchanted Fog and had lavender in it- the only way to have London Fog in my opinion. (Traditionally, a London Fog is hot earl grey tea and steamed milk). I got one nearly every morning we were there after we discovered it. My Pawpaw and I would walk from our place and he’d order a hot coffee. Steam is top of both of our coffee lists.

I tried a buffalo burger for the first time at a steakhouse called Texas Reds Steakhouse that has been on the town’s main strip since 1970, despite burning down in ‘04. The burger was thick, flavorful, and nicely charred. After dinner I pulled my grandparents into the next door dive bar saloon called, the Motherlode, for a couple games of pool. We had fun and since we were the only people there, besides a couple too occupied with each others faces, Mawmaw got up on stage and pretended to be the night’s entertainment!

One of our days was spent in Taos, not too far from Red River, and one of the main towns that create the Enchanted Circle. The Enchanted Circle is a National Forest scenic byway in New Mexico that encompasses the towns of Taos, Red River, Angel Fire, Eagle Nest, and Questa. It’s a popular area for skiing. Taos is outside of the mountains, so more of a dry desert climate, and is famous for its adobe buildings. We visited the most beautiful adobe church, the San Francisco de Asís Mission Church, which was built in 1825. We strolled around local shops and art galleries and ate some delicious authentic Mexican food at a local dive for lunch. My chimichanga was really spicy, but I managed with my room temp Corona that Mawmaw and I ordered cold- but was warm in about 2 minutes in the hot weather. You’ll find some fun local places here if you pop side a side street or two.

On our drive back to Red River, we stopped by the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument and it was monumentally beautiful. The size was shocking. It is the second tallest bridge in the US! I spotted a cowboy hat deep down in the canyon, one of many objects I’m sure that blew over the edge. I stuck a MADDHOUSE sticker on the railing beside many others in an ongoing effort to sticker everywhere I travel! 

The next morning we had a delicious, nutritious breakfast at Shotgun Willie’s- a tiny, local dive that had limited indoor seating, but the outdoor seating was prime real estate anyways because the weather was gorgeous. They had real good homemade hash browns and burritos- and flirtatious cashiers, who my grandparents had fun joking with me about.

After breakfast, we drove to Cimarron, a historical cowboy town. Of course, we had to stop by St James Hotel, one of the most famous (and most haunted!) hotels in the US because of all the legendary cowgirls & cowboys that have stayed there like Annie Oakley, Buffalo Bill Cody, Jessie James, Davy Crockett II, Clay Allison, Wyatt Earp, and Pancho Griego. This hotel has seen a bar brawl shootout or two! And it shows. We had margaritas in the bar that it all happened in and counted over 20 bulletholes in the ceiling. We explored the property and most rooms were blocked off to respect the dead spirit’s privacy because of so many paranormal activity claims. You could feel the energy of the place and I made sure to keep my grandparents within eyesight, so I didn’t get haunted! There was an outdoor courtyard painted the most magnificent pink that connected a separate part of the hotel that you can actually stay in (if you dare!). We hopped across the street into a flea market that had eclectic finds. The owner suggested we stop by her sister’s thrift store on our way out of town, so we did. 

On our way back, we stopped in the Cimarron Canyon State Park for a hike and picnic lunch. Our hike followed a little creek and we saw some beautiful aspen trees. We set up at the base of the mountain, next to the stream, where we ate homemade sandwiches, a mini charcuterie board (or a smorgasbord as my Pawpaw calls it, which always makes me laugh), and strawberries with a fruity rośe in tiny plastic wine glasses for dessert. It doesn’t get much better than a picnic with a good view! There were tall yellow wildflowers blooming, everything was lush and green, and the rocky, jagged edges of the mountains towered over us while the cold stream rippled by. I formed a little horse statue from the cheese block wax cover leftover from lunch. We left it for the next person or until it melted back into the earth. (Don’t worry we left everything else better than we found it.)

Lucky us, this wasn’t the only picnic of the trip! We picniced again the day before we left, right outside of town at a campground. There was another crystal clear mountain stream, so we setup, and ate tuna salad with pita chips, strawberries, and finished off our second bottle of the Yellow Tail Fresh Twist wine. We had to go back for more after the first was so good. We tried same brand, new flavor, and it was just as good as the first. 

Of course, we had to stop by Steam before we left town to head home. New Mexico was such a great trip. It’s a lovely state with a lot to offer. You have the desert and mountains at your fingertips, as well as so many beautiful outdoor sights, fun happenings, really good local food, and lots of alien stories. 

Now driving back home through the Oklahoma Panhandle was a different story… but that will be for another blog ;)


Steam Coffee & Tea Co (the Enchanted Fog)

Red River Brewery (the Reuben!)

Shotgun Willies 

Texas Red’s Steakhouse

the Motherlode

Cimarron Canyon State Park

The ‘Community House’ Events

Yellow Tail Fresh Twist Wine

The Creek Trail in Red River



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The blog is so fun to read. Not just fun, but also educational. Maddie makes you feel as though you have experienced every moment. The pictures are beautiful. Her eye for detail is evident in everything she does. The recommendations at the end are helpful to anyone wanting to visit the area.

Carmen Morgan

I totally agree with your assessment of Red River, New Mexico. This was my second trip to Red River. The first time was spent in a tent along side a babbling mountain stream which was a couple of miles outside of Red River city limits. There are numerous camping sites for tents or SUVs in the surrounding area. It’s a beautiful mountain town with a slow pace, good eats, lots to do, plenty to discover, plus just a great place to relax, enjoy the weather and beautiful scenery.

Larry W Morgan

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