New Mexico’s First Railroad Museum, The Toy Train Depot

August 2, 2014 in Blog

"train depot" alamogordo "new mexico"Just a few miles off the western border of Lincoln National Forest, sits Alamogordo and New Mexico’s first railroad museum, The Toy Train Depot. Remember the little trains you used to ride in a big arc around the zoo or theme park, sitting next to mom and dad with your head out of the top? This museum focuses on these rides, many of which have been retired from those attraction sites. Rick Haskell is the museum’s curator, a train engineer, and a rail historian. If you ask him, he will tell you the fascinating story of an ancient decree by Caesar involving the width of two horse’s rear ends that directly influenced the current width of railroads in America today. Seriously.

Wednesday through Sunday, the Depot runs three 16” narrow gauge railway rides. This is a great outing for the family and a fun ride for the kids. The museum is a non-profit educational foundation, and you can enjoy learning some of the history of these vehicles after the 10-scale mile ride. Built in a "new mexico" alamogordo "train depot"now retired actual train depot, which was erected in 1898, the museum has memorabilia from the real national rail system, model trains of all types and sizes, huge displays of old rails more than a hundred years old, original railway art, and a golden spike that was awarded to John Koval, the original collector whose prizes became this museum.

Whether you are a serious fan of trains, want to become more acquainted with this hobby, or just looking for a fun day out with the kids, The Toy Train Depot can provide a great afternoon.

The Gillespie Ranch in the Southern Sacramento Mountains of New Mexico

July 12, 2014 in Blog

"gillespie ranch" cloudcroft "new Mexico"Fourteen years ago, a cowboy and girl moved from Arizona to the southern Sacramento Mountains of New Mexico, and they started a ranch. Kent Gillespie has worked as a farmer or rancher for his entire life, and Susan, once a biochemical engineer, doesn’t know a life without horses. Their land is situated in the middle of the beautiful Lincoln National Forest, covered with mountains and dense with trees. Today the Gillespie Ranch has visitors year round for a variety of reasons, but it was not built as a tourist attraction. 15,000 acres are set aside for their cattle operation, which they both work everyday. Susan checks the cows and even feeds some by hand. Kent and his son mount horseback and work the cattle daily when he is not meeting with guests or accommodating their vacations.

Visitors have several options for how they will enjoy the Ranch. A four-person cabin allows small groups or families to simply bask in the scenic forest and find a respite after some gorgeous hiking. Twelve RV hookups let others do the same in their own accommodations. The Gilliespies also board horses for the short or long term, so riders can bring their own mount and trail ride the easygoing flat land or challenge themselves on the steep, rocky mountainside. Each September, all the guest spots are taken by hunting "gillespie ranch" cloudcroftparties, which Kent and Susan will guide through the forest. And once in a while, Kent will approach lucky and brave guests the night before the cattle rotation, and invite them to take a horse and accompany them in the cowboy work the next morning.

The Gillespies’ ranch is clearly not only a job for them. They cowboy together, and Kent wouldn’t have it any other way. He gladly admits that Susan is a much better roper than he. “She’s quite the horseman. I’m just a lucky redneck.”

The Gila Cliff Dwelling National Monument in New Mexico

June 24, 2014 in Blog

"Gila Cliff Dwellings" Gila "national park" "new mexico"The Gila Cliff Dwelling National Monument lies in the mountainous desert almost five hours west of Cloudcroft. Located near the Morgollon Historic District in Catron County, the Gila is a fascinating look into some of New Mexico’s earliest inhabitants, a tribe of the Mogollon peoples who populated the southwestern United states and northern Mexico.

Thought to have been occupied for around 25 years at the turn of the 14th century, the dwellings were originally formed in the face of the cliffs from volcanic activity, behind thick growths of trees. They provided good shelter, the five caves having been built into 46 rooms; the nearby woods also concealed the dwellings from potentially dangerous passerby. Today, the monument is accessible by hiking about a mile up a trail; you’ll also find a museum and visitor’s center.

"gila cliff dwellings" gila cave "new Mexico"While a five hour drive from Cloudcroft is kind of intimidating, the Mogollon Mountains and Gila River areas offer plenty of other hiking opportunities, as well as more ancient Amerindian sites and river rafting—if you’re staying in Cloudcroft (say at Spruce Cabins, for example) for a week, spending a couple days exploring the sites in the Gila Wilderness is a great addition to a summer vacation in southern New Mexico.

ET’s Home in the Land of Enchantment

April 27, 2014 in Blog

"New Mexico" "land of enchantment"As everyone knows, New Mexico is the Land of Enchantment. From stunning vistas of the southwestern desert to the gypsum crystals that give White Sands its name, our great state is full of natural treasures. Of course, there are also the aliens, most famously the ones who supposedly crash landed near Roswell in 1947. Whether or not they were real is anyone’s guess, one famous alien creature really did find its way to New Mexico soil, though he himself was a fictional character. We’re talking about E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, the star of Steven Spielberg’s 1982 blockbuster.

And actually, E.T. didn’t actually make it here, but most of the unsold copies of a video game based on the movie did. Famed video game company Atari released an E.T. game after the movie in 1983, thinking it could capitalize on the film’s runaway success, but the resulting product was terrible, and Atari decided to take it off toy store shelves.

ET Alamogordo atariOne day in the fall of ’83, the Alamogordo Daily News reported between 10 and 20 truckloads of the game were transported to an Alamogordo landfill for disposal. The site was chosen because excavation of the landfill was prohibited, and its refuse was crushed nightly.

Thirty years later, the city gave a Canadian entertainment company a six month window to dig up the landfill in order to produce a documentary; on April 26, 2014, the digging began. Hopefully they found more concrete evidence that these “aliens” were actually there!

Spruce Cabins Cloudcroft Photo Contest

April 1, 2014 in Blog

"spruce cabins" cloudcroft "new mexico"Besides our vacation houses available for rent, we also operate the Spruce Cabins, a set of full-apportioned cabins near Cloudcroft’s Chamber of Commerce. They make for a fun place for you and your family to stay, because they’re within walking distance of Cloudcroft’s shopping and dining options, and they’re also close to a wide range of outdoor activities, from hiking and biking to hunting and hiking. For more than fifty years, these cabins have been a well-known and well-regarded stop for travelers and vacationers alike.

This month, Spruce Cabins is running a photo contest to win a two-night stay in one of their cabins, and we’re excited to help them out. In order to enter, you need only “like” Spruce Cabins on Facebook, and then share and tag Spruce Cabins in a picture of you or your family members in or around Cloudcroft. Whether you’re having fun, doing something silly or amazing, or marveling at the surrounding natural beauty, we want to "spruce cabins" cloudcroft "new mexico"see you enjoying our little mountain village.

A stay in the Spruce Cabins is great for out-of-town friends or relatives, as well as people who have visited in the past—rekindle the memories of your last trip in a village landmark! And while you’re at it, feel free to give Amigo Realty’s Facebook page a “like.” We’d love to meet you too, especially if you like Cloudcroft enough to stay!

Cloudcroft’s Cloud Climbing Rail Trail

July 22, 2013 in Blog

If there’s one must-do hiking trail near Cloudcroft, it’s probably the Cloud Climbing Rail Trail. Covering something like 11 miles, the "cloudcroft railroad" vacation trails Cloudcroft "new mexico"CCRT is a winding, scenic walk through the Lincoln National Forest, combining four trails into a single network. Originally used for the lumber, and later, vacation industry that eventually gave rise to Cloudcroft, what would become the Cloud Climbing Rail Trail was created in 1990 by a retired physicist.

With the help of the New Mexico Rails to Trails Association, Tom Springer planned a trail that provided views of southern New Mexico’s gorgeous panoramas, in particular the dunes of White Sands 30 miles away! Beginning with the Trestle Trail in the Trestle Recreation area, the CCRT climbs 2.5 miles to join the Switchback Trail and the Cross-over Trail, and by crossing the highway, you can get access to the Grandview Trail.

If you’re spending all or part of your New Mexico vacation in Cloudcroft, you should Cloudcroft "new mexico" trails vacationdefinitely do some hiking in the Lincoln National Forest. Besides landmarks like the Bluff Springs Waterfall, trails like the ones that comprise the Cloud Climbing Rail Trail are great examples of our town’s natural beauty. Making a trip to the mountains is a great way to refresh your personal batteries, and a day trip to the CCRT is perfect for rejuvenation—just pack plenty of water, and be prepared to soak in a tub later!

Explore Frontier History in Southern New Mexico

March 14, 2013 in Blog

One great thing about living in the Southwest—you get to be familiar with plenty of frontier history. While Cloudcroft itself might be known for its past (and present) as a southern New Mexico vacation destination, if you drive about two hours to the north, you’ll find a piece of history that’s a little wilder.

"white oaks" "new mexico" vacation Up in Lincoln County, there’s a place called White Oaks. While a few people live and operate businesses there, it’s kind of a ghost town; at one time, White Oaks had a population of around 5,000 people and was the second-largest city in the state, but then the gold mines dried up, it fell into decline. Nowadays you’ll find some arts and crafts, the famous “No Scum Allowed” Saloon, plus historical sites like a miner’s house, historic grave sites, and some old mansions. As for the wild part of White Oaks, the town is associated with none other than legendary outlaw Billy the Kid.

According to historic sources, Billy the Kid spent the latter part of his short life rustling cattle, and he would sell his haul at White Oaks, no doubt attracted to the town’s brothels and casinos. Pat Garret, bought the lumber to make Billy’s gallows "billy the kid" "new mexico" vacationfrom a lumber mill in White Oak, right as the gunman made his famed escape through the chimney of the Lincoln County jail, shooting a Deputy named Bell in the process. Deputy Bell is buried in White Oak’s Cedvale Cemetery.

More than the graveyard, however, you’ll want to visit White Oaks for a drink at the No Scum Saloon. It’s one of the last truly great cowboy bars in the state, even making American Cowboy Magazine’s Top Cowboys Bars in the West list. Stop in for a beer and make friends before heading back to Cloudcroft. They’ll probably remember you the next time you visit!