While the American Civil War raged in states like Virginia, Kentucky and Missouri, General Ulysses Grant captured Fort Henry in Tennessee. Congress passes legislation outlawing slavery and President Abraham Lincoln signs the homestead act into law. The small southwestern village of Tularosa is about to be founded.
An idea born by the first settlers of Tularosa in “La Promesa Solemne”, a prayer lifted up to God in 1862 before the two-day battle of Round Mountain, and later fulfilled by the construction of the St Francis De Paula Church in 1869.
Since then, as an uninterrupted tradition, the St Francis De Paula Fiesta has been celebrated every year.
Although the present construction is not in its original shape, and is double the original size, it’s included in the National Register of Historic Places and is an essential part of our local history.
If you are planning to come, but wondering what to do in Tularosa, let me give you a few things you must do when you visit:
- The Tularosa Original Townsite District is part of the National Register of Historic Places. It was divided into 48 blocks in 1873. Many of the homes built during the 1800’s are still there today and the local Library offers a Walking Tour Guide with a map and information to help visitors interested in learning the amazing stories behind each building.
- The original Acequia System was built by the first settlers in 1862 to divert the Tularosa River into a terraced irrigation system for homesteads, animals, home vegetable gardens and orchards is still being used today, lining the 48 original townsite blocks.
- The Saint Francis De Paula Church was built in 1862 as a result of La Promesa Solemne after the Battle fo Round Mountain, and is one of five Franciscan Missions in the area. This is the modified original structure where the foundation is cut stone quarried near the Tularosa River.
- Historic Granado Street with amazing shops, and historic buildings is where most of the local events are held. You can pick up a Walking Tour Guide from one of the shops.
- If archaeology and ancient history is what you are looking for, check out Tularosa’s Jornada Research Institute. Their membership includes monthly tours to interesting archaeological sites and volunteer opportunities to sites their team is currently working on.
If you are interested in learning more about Tularosa visit the Tularosa History Council’s website.
- Three Rivers Petroglyph Site is an amazing place with more than 21, 000 petroglyphs located just outside of the village, a 20 minute drive.
Eat, drink, and be merry…
- Tularosa Vineyards with Tasting Room and Tours, pioneers in growing some of the more unusual, but well acclimated grapes in New Mexico.
- Tularosa Pecan Company established in 1969 is located inside the Travel Center and has the best treats made from their locally grown pecan orchards. Treats you will not find anywhere else.
- Loredos Bakery with the best authentic and freshly-made everyday Pan De Dulce. Chiles rellenos and tamales are also their specialty and are the best in the area.
- Casa de Suenos with amazing food and ambiance.
- Coming soon; Feed the Basin, a lofty mission driven enterprise.
- Better than Starbucks coffee, is Tularosa’s Hugga Mug. And if you want a breakfast to go with it you will find it at Yum Yums (along with the only Navajo Tacos I’ve found in our area). Ice cream and cheeseburgers instead? Old fashioned Tulie Freeze is the place.
Wondering what to do in Alamogordo, NM?
Alamogordo is a great place for a day trip. There are a variety of things to see, places to eat, and a variety of activities for everyone.
When my children were a bit younger, we used to go to the Alameda Park Zoo and have a picnic there, on the grass. Afterwards we would head over to the Founder’s Park and just look around. My youngest one (then 2) would enjoy walking around, “hiding”, and exploring. It was definitely a treat for her!
Founders Park is located at the Junction of White Sands Boulevard and 10th Street. Right across 10th street is the Alamogordo Museum of History and right across White Sands Boulevard sits the Alameda Park Zoo.
You can spend 15 to 20 minutes here and enjoy it after a visit to the Zoo and the museum.
If you are coming from The White Sands National Monument and are looking for something to eat, you will definitely be able to find it within walking distance from here.
Have you tried New Mexico’s famous Green Chile Burgers? Blake’s Lotta Burger is just 4 blocks from here on White Sands Boulevard and 14th Street.
If you are in the mood for doing a little shopping afterwards head over to Main Street (right behind Founders Park).
Take a Virtual Tour of Founders Park, you gotta visit!
What is The Spirit of the American Southwest?
It is a body of rich Traditions: Native American spirituality, Spanish culture, Mexican resilience, and the wild, rugged and free character of the American cowboy.
History has blurred ethnicity lines, and although several features of these strong traditions can be identified in the elements of the Southwestern culture, they are, simultaneously, one in substance and nature – The Spirit of the American Southwest.
Native American Spirituality is without a doubt the chief influence and foundational creative force in the Spirit of the Southwest. Being able to experience the Southwest means being in direct contact with its essential elements, and these Petroglyphs speak of that holy communion between man and nature.
The Spirit won’t admit your problems and worries. It won’t allow distractions or lack of commitment. It requires your full focus and undivided attention. It needs a clear mind in order to make a connection with your soul.
The petroglyphs at Three Rivers testify to the connection that can be made.
Take a 360 look at this 360 degree Virtual Tour.
New Mexican cuisine has its own unique style. It is not Mexican. It is not Mexican-American. And it’s definitely not Tex-Mex. It’s true to the Southwestern Spirit of New Mexico’s rich cultural heritage. It is a blend of American Cowboy, Native American, Spanish Colonial, and post-Columbian Mexican.
The Chiricahua, Comanche, Mescalero, and Navajo influence on New Mexican food is expressed through the use of piñones, corn, chile, beans, and squash.
The use of wheat, rice, and lamb were introduced to the Southwestern Cuisine by the Spaniards. Arroz con leche, atole, bizcochitos, calabacitas, and flan are some of the Spanish dishes that have come to enrich New Mexican traditions.
Another example of cultural influence in New Mexican cooking is the Puebloan Horno; a mud adobe-built outdoor oven. Originally introduced to the Iberian Peninsula by the Moors, it was quickly adopted and carried to all Spanish-occupied lands. The Puebloan Horno was used by Native Americans and early settlers of North America, and became an authentic tradition in the Southwest.
The most iconic characteristic of true New Mexican Cuisine is the use of Hatch Chile, which is not the same as the serrano chile used in Mexican Cuisine.
Within our local food landscape you will find:
- Green chile cheeseburgers
- Green chile chicken Alfredo
- Green chile cornbread
- Green Chile Stew
- Green Chile and chicken stuffed avocado
- and even more creative dishes like green chile sundaes and smoothies.
So, what should you be looking for when you are in search of a true, authentic experience of the southwest?
- Bizcochitos – The Official New Mexican Cookie
- Carne adovada – slow-cooked cubes of pork marinated in red chile sauce, oregano, and garlic
- Green chile stew
- Navajo Tacos – made with fry bread instead of a tortillas
- Sopapillas – fried pastry dough typically used as an edible scoop for salsas and sauces
- Albondigas (meatball soup)
- Chiles Rellenos – whole green chiles stuffed with cheese, dipped in egg batter and fried
- Enchiladas – corn tortillas filled with chicken, meat or cheese, rolled or stacked and covered with chile sauce and cheese
- Flan – caramel custard
- Tamales – meat rolled in cornmeal dough and wrapped in corn husks
- Indian fry bread – a traditional thick flatbread of deep-fried dough
So, you have done your research and realized that Ruidoso, New Mexico is the-place-to-go this winter.
You are planning to visit Ski Apache, take awesome pictures at Sierra Blanca Peak (weather and health permitting), shop for souvenirs at Tanner Tradition and have lunch at Rachel’s; one of the best restaurants in Ruidoso.
Awesome, but… where are you staying?
Noisy Water Lodge is an option. These are pet-friendly rental cabins, surrounded by the amazing Lincoln National Forest and overlooking the world-famous Rio Ruidoso. Only 2 miles from downtown (and 20 miles from Sky Apache), these cabins are accessible to all Ruidoso attractions and activities.
They do not have a Google Virtual Tour, but here is a Street View image where you are able to view them from the street:
Their ratings are phenomenal and their reviews are stellar:
If the cabin experience is not for you, a vacation rental will probably interest you. Two Ruidoso Redheads have some amazing vacation options in different locations.
How does a vacation townhome rental sound to you? … I know!!!
Sorry, no Google Virtual Tours. But you can check out their photos, rating and reviews here!
If you are traveling with kids, don’t forget about the best local attractions to enjoy:
Tularosa is a small village north of White Sands National Monument. It is an oasis and the center of operations for travelers visiting the area.
The Village Historical Museum is the repository of the village’s history.
In the Historic Commercial Granado Street, you will not only find beautiful buildings that have been part of the community for a long time, but art galleries and amazing shops where local artists display and sell the fruit of their varied skills.
Saint Francis De Paula Historic Church, right on the main street, should be on your must-visit-list. This is a beautiful church of great historical importance to the area, with beautiful architectural details inside and out.
The Acequia System in Tularosa remains in its original state, and is one of the most attractive features of the village. It also is what ultimately turned this piece of land into an oasis for local farmers and wildlife alike.
The Original Townsite District is comprised of the original 49 blocks with which Tularosa was established. Historic houses architectured with local techniques particular to the area fill these 49 blocks and the acequia system lines its streets.
Before California wines were, New Mexico wines were. And if you wish to learn about and taste the local history of wine going back to the Spanish settlers, you need to visit the Tularosa Vineyards.
Shopping for rocks and fossils? Tesoros de la Tierra has the most unique and interesting souvenirs you will find for miles and miles…and miles…and miles. And even if you are not going to shop, give them a visit and enjoy. This place is like a beautiful museum and the owners are knowledgeable and happy to share stories and facts.
In the mood for a beer? The local bar is a place where many bikers (on their way to Ruidoso) stop by.
The Three Rivers Petroglyph site is about a 20 minute drive from downtown Tularosa, and a must visit when you come. I took a few pictures on my last visit and created a video for YouTube:
Easy and Fun, with kids or without, romantic or not, these are four things you must do when you visit Carrizozo, NM.
This attraction (is actually on TripAdvisor…) and is awesome for everyone.
Kids, adults, grandparents and wheelchair-accessible, THIS IS IT!
What you won’t find on TripAdvisor:
- The Burro Challenge. Not on TripAdvisor (though I wonder why not?!) this was such a fun thing to do. We did walk around town a bit, but did not notice how far we traveled or for how long. One cannot visit Carrizozo without doing this, as this is the area of donkeys (“burro” means donkey) and the art is fun and beautiful. And if you are in Carrizozo, you must be into nature and art…and if you are not, you are missing out.
2. MoMaZoZo’s Gallery. 12th Historic Street in Carrizozo is awesome. Stop at all the spots, including the Malkerson Gallery!
3. Chamber of Commerce. The El Paso and Northeastern Railroad built a depot on Carrizozo Flats, and the town was born.
This is a video we took on our last visit:
If you are looking for something to do in Ruidoso, especially if it is kid-friendly, have I got the answer for you … sleigh rides!
During the summer we can enjoy Grindstone Stables horse rides. These are one-hour tours, and children 5 years and up can ride their own horse! If Special Needs is a concern, you can call [ (575)257-2241 ] and they might be able to help you with that too.
Grindstone’s carriage rides through mid-town will provide you (and your tired kids) with an awesome break from shopping. Plus, the experience is just phenomenal!
Their Sleigh rides are available from Thanksgiving ’till the beginning of January.
Horse-drawn sleigh rides through historic Upper Canyon, sleigh bells ringing, Christmas lights on every house, snow covered driveways, and neighbors waving and wishing merry Christmas is a magical experience. It doesn’t get better than that!
This is the one we took last year. We can’t wait to ride again this year!
So, you are visiting The Land of Enchantment and are looking for the culture, the tradition, the history…and also happen to have a sweet tooth?
Then a must try for you is bizcochitos; a treat where culture, history, tradition (and sugar) collide.
Bizcochitos became New Mexico’s official State Cookie in 1989, in an effort to help preserve this cultural tradition. The Spanish roots of this traditional cookie were, for centuries, influenced by all the local cultures until it became a traditional New Mexican delight served at weddings, baptisms, and during the Christmas season.
“Bizcochito” is Spanish for “pastry”, and is flavored with cinnamon and anise. They are traditionally shaped like stars or crescent moons, and are paired with hot chocolate. Don’t worry if anise is just not what you are into, most bakeries avoid it for that reason.
As with all foods, there is a slight difference between made from scratch, and store bought. If you enjoy baking, there are many different recipes for bizcochitos online.
Bizcochito recipes are family heirlooms handed down from generation to generation, and ingredients may vary. Lard, bourbon, Brandy, anise, orange juice, vanilla, red wine, etc.
NOTE: My personal preference is having milk hot-chocolate, instead of water chocolate. The richness and creaminess make for a great palate experience.