The picturesque town of Red River, New Mexico. Editorial credit: Vineyard Perspective /

7 Of The Most Quaint Small Towns In New Mexico

Featuring landscapes that travel the gamut, from auburn-colored deserts to breathtaking mesas and snow-capped mountains, there are no prices for guessing why New Mexico has been christened "the Land of Enchantment." Aside from its wild and whimsical landscapes and its world-famous parks, including White Sands National Park, New Mexico is star-studded with a delightful array of small towns that often serve as perfect exploration bases. If you are looking for something small and quaint, read on to discover the towns enlisted below.

Red River

Aerial view of Red River, New Mexico.
Aerial view of Red River, New Mexico.

Red River is a stunning New Mexico mountain town reputed to be among the snowiest in the state. Home to just about 500 residents, Red River is small, quaint, and rustic to a fault. The town sits in a scenic area that nature has carved into hills and peaceful valleys. The Main Street is lined with inviting restaurants (check out Shotgun Willie's for some Southern-style platters), cute little shops, and unique boutiques. Main Street Mercantile, for instance, boasts what is arguably the best selection of gifts and souvenirs in the Enchanted Circle. The town is known for its great outdoors and boasts numerous adventure spots, including the Goose Lake Trail and Enchanted Forest Cross Country Ski Area. The latter is reputed to be among the ten largest Cross-Country Skiing Areas in the United States.


Old San Isidro Church, Corrales, New Mexico
Old San Isidro Church, Corrales, New Mexico.

Boasting a population of about 8,700, Corrales is a quaint New Mexico town that reclines in the Albuquerque metropolitan area. For perspective, Corrales is just about 13 miles from Albuquerque, the state's largest city by population. Once known for its vineyards, Corrales has since undergone a complete makeover and is today a haven for artists and other creatives. First-time visitors will enjoy traipsing through the Corrales Arts & Cultural District and exploring the town's range of art galleries, including the Corrales Bosque Gallery, which features an impressive collection of ceramics, sculptures, and paintings. To add to its charming appeal, Corrales boasts repurposed historical buildings such as Casa Perea, a refurbished adobe building that has become a popular wedding venue. If seeking an exhibit of the state's Hispanic religious architecture, Old San Ysidro Church, constructed in 1869, is the go-to place. 


Sign welcoming visitors to Ruidoso, New Mexico.
Sign welcoming visitors to Ruidoso, New Mexico.

Ruidoso is secreted in the southern Rockies within the Sierra Blanca mountains about 75 miles west of Roswell. Called home by about 7,900 residents, Ruidoso is known to be affluent. One of the prettiest towns in the state often features among the state's most expensive. First-time visitors will enjoy soaking in nature's spellbinding beauty amid fireside snuggles — far from the daily grind. Midtown, Ruidoso's main street and its quaint heartbeat — is lined with cute, locally-owned shops, antique stores, and boutiques. Antiquarians will get a blast at stores such as Yesterday Antiques — as well as ReStore, whose items will evoke sentimental feelings. For outdoor enthusiasts, nothing comes close to the vast expanse and natural playground that defines the Lincoln National Forest.


Winter scene in Cloudcroft, New Mexico.
Winter scene in Cloudcroft, New Mexico.

A snowy wonderland in winter — and a world of outdoor adventures in summer — quaint Cloudcroft often meets every vacationer's needs. A sense of the town's appeal can best be experienced at The Lodge at Cloudcroft, in whose halls visitors often feel the presence of such famous figures as Judy Garland and Clark Gable. For those who enjoy filling their lungs with some crisp, playful air, the Trestle Depot Recreation Area, with its well-marked trails, will fit the bill. At Rim Trail, which winds through well-shaded evergreens for about 30 miles, one can inhale spectacular views of the Tularosa Basin at various strategic overlooks. Plus, home to the southernmost ski resort in the country, Cloudcroft offers some of the best skiing, snowboarding, and tubing adventures of any town in the state.


Homes in Mesilla, New Mexico.
Homes in Mesilla, New Mexico.

Mesilla is a town of about 1,780 that is known for its quaint, rural feel and intimate, small-town allure. Also known as Old Mesilla, this New Mexico treasure is 5 minutes away from Las Cruces. Old Mesilla Village features awesome Old New Mexico architecture and is quite a pleasure to explore. Strolling this place and checking out one of the oldest churches in the Mesilla Valley (Basilica of San Albino) often feels like stepping back into the 19th century, and because of this, it is quite a sentimental experience. Once the major stop between San Diego and San Antonio, Mesilla brims with several other places of historical interest. The Mesilla Plaza, a state monument of New Mexico, is another gem that adds to the quaint appeal of Mesilla. For delicious wine flavors and tasty views, Rio Grande Vineyards and Winery often meets or exceeds expectations.


Taos Pueblo in New Mexico.
Taos Pueblo in New Mexico.

Taos plays host to a population of about 6,600 and has been christened as "the Soul of the Southwest." Chockful of natural and historical gems, this town is anything but a secret. Taos Pueblo, for instance, made exclusively of Adobe, is the only Native American community designated both a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a National Historic Landmark. Reputed to be among the oldest continuously inhabited spots in the entire western hemisphere, Taos Pueblo is not the only feather in this town's cap. Taos hosts Taos Ski Valley, a world-class ski resort that attracts adrenaline junkies from just about every corner of the United States. One of the town's other draws is the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. Perched up at a mind-bending 650 feet above the eponymous waterway, this bridge is the fifth-highest bridge in the United States. And if the word "quaint" means anything, Taos could just be its most sublime pictorial representation.

Silver City

Bullard Street in downtown Silver City, New Mexico.
Bullard Street in downtown Silver City, New Mexico. Editorial credit: Underawesternsky /

Called home by 9,300 residents, Silver City is a Southwest New Mexico gem secreted in the picture-perfect foothills of the Pinos Altos Mountains. Among the town's most striking features are its Old West charm and high-desert setting. Casual and inviting restaurants, such as the palette-bewitching Jalisco Cafe, line the quaint streets of this college town and provide top-tier culinary experiences. Art enthusiasts will love the fact that Silver City, including the surrounding communities, hosts more than 30 galleries and studios. Light Art Space, for instance, located across the street from the Murray Hotel, will light up all your senses. Other Silver City attractions include the vast and spellbinding Gila National Forest — as well as the Western New Mexico University Museum.

The Takeaway

Known as 'the Land of Enchantment," New Mexico features some of the tastiest landscapes of any state. An outdoor lovers' paradise, the fifth-largest state in the country in terms of total surface area is dotted with a delightful array of quaint small towns whose historical heritage and heart-melting natural frames are among the richest and awe-inspiring. For those seeking the most quaint New Mexico towns, the triad of Red River, Corrales, and Ruidoso take the palm. But that said, Silver City, Cloudcroft, Mesilla, and Taos are all hard to beat.

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