South of the resort, the Mescalero Cultural Center curates artifacts and historical exhibits about Apache rituals and leaders, such as the famed war chief Geronimo. To the north, the rapidly growing city of Ruidoso bustles with mountain-gear outfitters, steak houses, and yeti that have decided to settle down. The Billy the Kid National Scenic Byway passes through the city and other nearby communities with ties to western outlaws and icons. The 84-mile loop also runs through a portion of the million-acre Lincoln National Forest, where visitors hike, bike, and ride horses past waterfalls and canyons until the snow starts falling in early November.
Ron and Olha Dolin didn’t discover their shared passion for wine and spirits until after they were married. Together they use Ron’s Ph.D. in engineering and Olha’s generational knowledge of producing vodka and brandy in Eastern Europe to craft handmade wines and fine spirits. Their wines include the specialty Emotion series, which includes cherry sherry, apple ice wine, and a wine made from rose petals. The two also distill spirits ranging from blue corn vodka and bourbon to gin made from New Mexico juniper, pinon, chamisa, sage, and rose hips.
Toro Tequila Bar & Grill furnishes the famished with a menu of tangy grilled meats steeped in Mexican flavorings. The fuego sliders ($7) rush to the table, leaving a smoking trail of chipotle aioli in their wake. Beef short ribs, fresh from a tequila-lime bath, snuggle up in their mashed-potato beds with pico de gallo pillows and vegetable quilts ($18). Poultry gobblers relish the pepperjack chicken paired with linguini in a spicy cream sauce ($15).
Unlike mud runs before it, the 5K course of the Recon Run is adorned with boot-camp-style obstacles such as piles of tires, muddy trenches, and walls that runners must jump, scramble, and pull themselves over. The military theme comes as no surprise; after all, proceeds from this charity race support the Semper Fi Fund, a nonprofit organization that provides financial support to injured and ill members of the US Armed Forces and their families. Upon completing the course, successful recruits earn T-shirts, dog tags, and beer that they can enjoy with fellow racers at the finish line.
Fat Sat's Bar and Grill conjures memories of the jazz age with its 1920s-style ornamentation and murals of old-time Chicago street scenes, each hand-painted by world-renowned artist Michael Ostaski. The owners named the bar in fond remembrance of their grandfather, Uncle Saturnino Trujillo, who grew up in the era of prohibition and speakeasies. Inside the kitchen, chefs bustle day and night, whipping up breakfasts, twirling pastas, hand-cutting rib-eye steaks, and grilling seafood. Bartenders behind three separate bars communicate to one another by angling mirrors as they fill cups to the brim with margaritas and 14 draft beers. Nineteen flat screens beam down upon the bars and tabletops, and a fire pit blazes amid two large outdoor patios. Live bands serenade guests Thursdays through Saturdays, while Friday nights entertain guests with games, trivia, dancing, and karaoke, offering them a welcome reprieve from evenings spent thumb-wrestling their aunts.