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Remote, rugged, and pretty, Cloudcroft has long drawn visitors to its forested mountain environs. A railroad and stagecoach once spirited visitors nearly 20 miles into what is now the Lincoln National Forest, to vacation at a lodge, which opened in 1899 and offered tents on wooden platforms, a dining room, and entertainment hall. Cloudcroft’s small downtown has an Old West feel, and there are some surprises to be found in this hamlet, such as one of the nation’s oldest golf courses. But the town’s main draw is as a base for mountainside adventure, of which there is no shortage.
Texas’ El Paso Airport (ELP) is the closest to Cloudcroft, at a little more than 100 miles away. You can hire a shuttle or car to take you to Cloudcroft, or rent a car for the duration of your stay — which will be helpful for reaching all the outdoor attractions in the region.
Due to its high elevation, Cloudcroft experiences milder temperatures year round. In the summer you’ll experience temperatures in the high 60s and mid-70s Fahrenheit. In the spring and fall, they dip, with lows ranging from the 20s to the 40s and highs in the 50s. Winters are cold but not terribly, with lows just below 20 and highs in the 40s. In general, pack layers, and in July and August, when it rains the most, make sure to bring an umbrella.
This gentle 1.3-mile hike begins at a replica railroad depot and offers panoramic views as you climb through old-growth forests teeming with firs and pines. It will deposit you at a lookout over a 323-foot-long, 60-foot-high wooden train trestle lofted above Mexican Canyon. The gracefully curved trestle was built in 1889 and has earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.
If you’ve ever wanted to golf 9,000 feet above sea level, Cloudcroft is home to a Scottish-style nine-hole course that boasts that it’s the seventh highest in the world. More than 120 years old, this unique course, which is open April through October, is surrounded by mountain vistas on grounds where wildflowers bloom. Not that there aren’t challenges — you’ll have to navigate a 150-foot vertical drop at the first hole.
Cloudcroft turns into a winter wonderland once a year, and many choose to spend it at Ski Cloudcroft, just two miles from town. This ski park boasts plenty of gorgeous natural snow, but of course will churn out the homemade stuff when needed. Three ski lifts (one chair, one handle tow, and one rope tow) ferry you up the mountain to your choice of 25 ski trails. If you prefer to tackle the slopes seated, book a two-hour tubing block, and rocket down one of the 700-foot-long tracks with a 70-foot vertical drop. For even more winter fun, check out the ice rink in town or go sledding at designated snow play areas in the Lincoln National Forest.