While in Las Cruces, we were blessed to have lovely interactions with several of the local residents. This is often, in my opinion, one of the best ways to find out about what is truly cool and fun to do in any area – talk to the locals! Our buddy mentioned Cloudcroft, a sleepy little ex-mining town that is now home to boutiques, eateries, and skiing (seasonally, of course).
Since it was already on our route and promised a short but fun hike with added train-tracks for photo-ops, we set our course for the clouds! The town is tiny, with a population of less than 700 as per the last census, but as we’ve mentioned in previous articles, never underestimate the magic of a small town. In fact, in 2002 Cloudcroft was voted by Fodor’s as the number 3 “Most Overlooked and Underrated Destination Spot.” I would gladly concur with Fodor’s on this one, because we truly enjoyed our time here.
First, you’re gonna wanna grab some grub. Gotta get that fuel for the Mexican Trestle Hike, but more on that later- first, comida! Mad Jack’s Mountaintop Barbecue will satiate your desire for smokey, meaty deliciousness, or, if you are looking for classic comfort food, Dave’s Cafe keeps it simple and soulful. Perhaps you’d like to take in a bit of shopping as well before hitting the trails; don’t worry, there’s plenty of that here as well. Imaginary Books and Collectibles offers a massive library of literary offerings and more than a few novelties and oddities, if you’re into that. The aptly and simply named Turquoise Shop won’t mislead you, in fact, even among all of the turquoise shops here in New Mexico (and there are a lot) they somehow manage to offer some of the most unique find and the prices are, in some cases, slightly less expensive than you’d find elsewhere – especially for the great quality.
So, you’re full and shopped up – time for a rousing hike. The Mexican Canyon Trestle Hike is a beautiful, easy-to-mild difficulty nature hike clocking in at around 2 miles round trip. There isn’t any steep elevation of which to be concerned and this should be an easy enough one for the whole family to enjoy, though notably its not ADA friendly so those with limited mobility issues should consult with the representatives at the park’s information kiosk at the trail’s start for more details. The greatest thing about this hike is the pay-off you’ll get at it’s end: The Trestle! A restored section of railway bridge that gives you a little look into the town’s history. It’s more easily described visually:
Cloudcroft is another hidden gem, much like the nearby Las Cruces, and one you could blink and miss on your way to bigger sights, but I would highly recommend stopping over in this small town. Even writing this I am missing it and planning an extended stay here in the near future. Perhaps during ski season? Watch out for a blog post on that, complete with photos of Spencer and I busting our butts on the slopes. Til then, enjoy the pictures of the lovely Cloudcroft and consider adding it to your next travel itinerary.