Rio Rancho Explore Local With RVshare

Why We Love Travel

Suggest a Local Tip

From meeting new people to experiencing new sights, sounds, and smells – is there anything more exciting or rejuvenating than a break from the day-to-day mundanity? Traveling is an excellent way to immerse yourself in a new culture, setting, or way-of-life, but the best part is this: you don’t have to venture far from home to enjoy what this world has to offer.

Whether your journey takes you across your own city, to an unexplored part of your state, or even to the other side of the world, there’s no doubt you will still learn a lot about your surroundings – and yourself – along the way.

Benefits of Traveling Locally

While the culture an hour away from your home might not be drastically different from what you’re used to, you can still gain a deepened sense of appreciation for where you’ve laid your roots. Plus, traveling locally has a lot of benefits:


More cost-effective. Local travel is certainly a budget-friendly way to explore! Many activities and parks are free or have a low cost of entry. For day trips, you can also pack your own meals to save.


Eco-friendly way to travel. Travel is hard on the environment, but putzing around your area is more sustainable than air travel.


Quick trips. Getting out locally means you can do it more often! Long weekend trips are a lot easier to take when the destination is a short drive away.


Easy to plan. Preparing your itinerary for a local getaway will likely save you some time and stress.


More convenient. Especially if you have little ones, sticking close to home may be much more convenient than far-off destinations. If you forget something, have an emergency, or need to cut the trip short, being closeby definitely has its benefits.

Explore Local: Rio Rancho, New Mexico

Located in New Mexico, within Albuquerque, is the city of Rio Rancho. It has been recognized as one of “America's 50 Best Cities to Live”, and for plenty of good reasons too. You see, it’s home to a thriving and varied dining scene, meaning that there’s never a dull moment for your tastebuds. Additionally, the region contains plenty of scenic state parks, national parks, and other recreational areas, so Mother Nature is literally right on your doorstep. Finally, Rio Rancho is also the site of many historic attractions, helping you to get up-close with the past and learn about the cultural significance of the region.

Even those who have lived in the city for a decade would agree they haven’t experienced all that Rio Rancho has to offer, while for those new to the region – well, they’ve got a lot to look forward to as well.

Ready to discover the best of Rio Rancho, New Mexico? Let’s get started!

*Note: Some of the suggestions may not be doable due to coronavirus closures, but keep this list handy for when things start opening back up more! Be sure to check individual pages for specific operation details.

Parks in Rio Rancho, New Mexico

Rio Rancho isn’t all hustle and bustle! There are also plenty of state parks and national parks both within and surrounding the area, all of which provide a tranquil escape for those looking to surround themselves by nature.

Rio Grande Nature Center State Park

Just a 25-minute drive out of Rio Rancho is the Rio Grande Nature Center State Park, which is home to a large and beautifully designed visitor center, an education building, a nature shop, expansive park grounds, a native plant garden, and the Mariposaville Pollinator Garden. Along with annual events, the state park also offers nature walks, summer camps, storytelling, and bird watching opportunities.

Cibola National Forest

The Cibola National Forest is also just a 25-minute drive away, meaning that more than 1.6 million acres of stunning wilderness are right on your doorstep. There are four wildernesses contained within the forest: the Sandia Mountain, Manzano Mountain, Withington, and Apache Kid. Activities to be enjoyed here include fishing, hunting, skiing, picnicking, hiking, and so much more.

Fenton Lake State Park

The Fenton Lake State Park is another natural beauty within the area, and it is home to the Jemez Mountains, beautiful ponderosa pine forests, and its namesake lake. Here, you can partake in canoeing, camping, hiking, cross-country skiing, and picnicking. It also draws crowds of keen fishers, particularly as the lake is stocked with rainbow trout from fall through spring and is home to German brown trout.

Hyde Memorial State Park

Hyde Memorial State Park is New Mexico’s first State Park and it’s located in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains amongst a forest of pines along Little Tesuque Creek. In summer, visitors love to hike its many picturesque trails, pack a picnic lunch to enjoy under the tree canopies, and camp. In winter, there is much to do too, including snowshoeing, sledding and cross-country skiing.

Cibola National Forest

Hiking in Rio Rancho, New Mexico

Still need to get your nature fix? If you’re craving seeing even more of the beautiful scenery that surrounds Rio Rancho, then there are also plenty of hiking and walking trails for you and your family to enjoy.

Willow Creek Bosque: North Loop Trail

Located within the Willow Creek Bosque Nature Preserve is the North Loop Trail, which traverses almost 3 kilometers, with much of the way featuring scenic river views. Don’t forget to pack you swimsuit, as you can take a dip in the river to cool down. The trail is rated as easy, making it suitable to all hiking levels and ages – including kids. You can also bring your dog!

Corrales North Irrigation Mixed Use Trail

Within the Corrales Bosque Preserve is the popular Corrales North Irrigation Mixed Use Trail, which as the name suggests, can be used for a variety of activities, including hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and running. It’s just under 9 kilometers in length and is rated as easy, making it great for all skill levels. There’s not a lot of shade along the trail, so be sure to pack a hat and wear sunscreen.

Rio Rancho Bosque to Corrales Bosque Connector Loop

Looking for a trail that connects both of those featured above? The Rio Rancho Bosque to Corrales Bosque Connector Loop does just that, letting you hike both, if you wish! It’s 1.1 kilometers in length and is a moderately-trafficked loop trail that’s rated as easy. It’s important to mention that this loop involves crossing an arroyo that leads to the Rio Grande, so if the water is flowing, please avoid making your way through it and turn back.

Restaurants in Rio Rancho, New Mexico

Rio Rancho is home to a bustling and trendy dining scene, so there’s sure to be a restaurant, café, or diner to satisfy your cravings. If you’ve worked up an appetite after a long hike, or simply feel like treating yourself to a delicacy, then you’re in luck. Here are our top restaurant recommendations!

Hot Tamales New Mexican Kitchen

Hot Tamales New Mexican Kitchen is made up of New Mexican cuisine that focuses on being authentic, while still offering up some twists of its own for all you adventurous diners. Here, it’s all about chile – and lots of it! Try their special Hot Tamale Cakes, as well as the Stacked Enchiladas, and Steak Fajitas. We hear they’re awesome!

Turtle Mountain Brewing Company

Turtle Mountain Brewing Company is Rio Rancho’s “Neighborhood Brewpub”, that has been serving up delicious food such as pizzas, calzones, and grinders since 1999. You can also enjoy hand-crafted ales and lagers from their on-premise brewhouse, which are said to be incredible. It’s a family-friendly and fun environment that everyone is sure to love.

Namaste Cuisine of India and Nepal Restaurant

For something a little more exotic, try Namaste Cuisine of India and Nepal Restaurant. The first location of their restaurant was opened in 2008, and after great success within the local community, they went on to open a second location near the University of New Mexico. Don’t miss the Lamb Tikka Masala, as well as the Cheese Naan and Shrimp Vindaloo. We hear they’re quite the feast!

M’tucci’s Moderno Italian Restaurant

M’tucci’s Italian Restaurant serves contemporary and traditional Italian fare, including house-made pasta, cheeses, cured meats, and craft cocktails. With a breath-taking backdrop of the Sandia Mountains, it just doesn’t get any more Rio Rancho than this original. No matter what your tastebuds are craving, you’re sure to find it here.

O’Hare’s Grille & Pub

O’Hare’s Grille & Pub is everyone’s go-to for casual dining and a fun environment. They offer everything from appetizers, salads, and soups to pastas and pub favorites. Along with twenty lagers and ales on tap, as well as over seventy varieties of bottled beer, they also make great cocktails and have a lengthy spirits offering.

Activities in Rio Rancho, New Mexico

Petroglyph National Monument

After feasting and enjoying all that the hiking trails and state parks have to offer, you may be wondering: “what next?” Well, when it comes to Rio Rancho’s attractions and activities, you’re only just getting started. Here are some of the most fun things on offer in and around the city!

For kids and families

Looking to entertain some little ones? Or perhaps you’ve got some teenagers in-tow who are starting to get a little bored? Either way, these attractions will entertain both children, teens, and adults alike!

ABQ Biopark Zoo

The ABQ Biopark Zoo covers 64 acres and offers visitors of all ages the chance to get up-close with exotic and native animals. They’ve been in operation since 1927 and their educational exhibits offer information about wildlife conservation efforts while showing animals in naturalistic habitats. Some of the exhibits include Africa, Apes, Australia, Carnivores, Polar Bears, Zoo Babies, and more.

Tenpins & More

Tenpins & More aims to provide a wholesome sports entertainment complex for families, friends and individuals under one roof. Here, you’ll find competitive leagues and tournaments, fund-raising Bowl-a-thons, and plenty of public bowling times for everyone to enjoy the bowling action! Kids and adults alike love it here. 

At night

What should you do in Rio Rancho once the sun goes down? We’re glad you asked! Here are our suggested night-time attractions.

Santa Ana Star Casino and Hotel

Nicknamed “New Mexico’s Best Bet,” the Santa Ana Star Casino and Hotel is the first Native-American casino to operate in New Mexico, having opened its doors in 1993. They’ve got more than 1,600 machines and over 20 table games, plus food choices such as Juniper Steakhouse and Choices Food Court.

Dragons House of Horror

Feel like getting spooky in Rio Rancho? The Dragons House of Horror is the place to go for an eerily good time. With gates that close a stroke before midnight, it’s also a great place to visit after dark – whether as a scarily good date night or thrilling time with friends and family. Just be warned – this one is not for the faint-hearted!

Cheap things to do in Rio Rancho

What can you do in or around Rio Rancho that won’t cost anything more than a few dollars? The answer: plenty! Here are just two of our favorite attractions within the area that can be enjoyed on the cheap.

ABQ Trolley Co

It’s just not Albuquerque without a trolley tour! The ABQ Trolley Co and their numerous, fun tours have been voted one of the best things to do in the state, and for good reasons too! You’ve probably already heard of their world-famous "BaD Tour", which offers 3.5 hours of touring Breaking Bad filming locations. Other recommended tours include The Amazing Chase and Ghost Walk.

Rio Rancho Aquatic Center

The Rio Rancho Aquatic Center is a great initiative to promote a healthy lifestyle, community engagement, and economic value. It runs several Aquacise classes, including Aqua Zumba, Aqua Fitness, Aqua Cardio, Deep Water Fitness, and Aqua Circuit. Admission starts at just $3 per person.

Free things to do in Rio Rancho

Looking to get the most out of your time spent within the city of Rio Rancho? Whether you want a fun way to waste away a Sunday afternoon or a date idea that won’t break the budget – here are our most recommended things to do in Rio Rancho that won’t cost you a cent.

A Park Above

A Park Above describes itself as “a place where all children can come together, interact, be included and grow, through the gift of play”. It’s the first fully-inclusive and accessible playground in New Mexico and is located on six acres, offering plenty of playful and fun opportunities to every kid within the region. The park has state-of-the-art amenities and can even be used for birthdays and other celebrations.

Petroglyph National Monument

The Petroglyph National Monument protects one of the largest petroglyph sites in North America, making it an absolute must-visit attraction for anyone living within or visiting the region. It features designs and symbols carved onto volcanic rocks by Native Americans and Spanish settlers 400 to 700 years ago, making it a culturally significant place for many. There are park programs, trails to hike, and more.

Wellness in Rio Rancho, New Mexico

Best spas in Rio Rancho

Alright, by now you’ve probably been on your feet all day exploring the sights and delights that Rio Rancho has to offer. If you’re craving some rest and relaxation, or even a bit of pampering, these are two of the best spas in the region.

Massage Envy

Need a little help from Massage Envy to help you unwind, relax, and feel like the best version of yourself? They offer treatments such as massage, stretch, and facials, all of which we hear amazing things about. Try a 30-minute Rapid Tension Relief Session if you’re in a hurry, or treat yourself to a 90-minute deluxe massage session.

La Bella Spa & Salon

La Bella Spa & Salon offers a wide range of treatments to help you overcome the stresses of everyday, all at affordable prices. Locals say their therapists are professional and friendly, instantly putting them at ease. It’s the perfect way to cap-off a long day – or week!

Best gyms and yoga studios

If rejuvenation for you is less about deep relaxation and more about sweating it out, then you’re in luck. Rio Rancho is home to some of the highest-rated gyms and yoga studios within the region.

Defined Fitness Hilltop Club

The Defined Fitness Hilltop Club is conveniently located right off Hwy 528 in the center of Rio Rancho. Defined Fitness has been located in Rio Rancho for over twenty years, helping the local community to achieve their health and fitness goals. They offer the latest in gym amenities, as well as a long list of classes to suit every interest or fitness level.

Vivify Hot Yoga

Vivify Hot Yoga has been voted one of the best studios in New Mexico for several years now. The talented instructors believe that yoga is for every body, mind, and soul, and therefore offer several classes to ensure everyone’s needs are met. Best of all? Your first week is on them!

Day Trips near Rio Rancho, New Mexico

Looking to fulfill your wanderlust by heading outside of the region for a day? You could spend decades within Rio Rancho without barely scratching the surface of all there is to do in this city, but consider these day trips next time you fancy a new adventure.

Santa Fe, NM

Santa Fe, New Mexico’s capital city, is just an hour’s drive from Rio Rancho. As you can imagine, there are so many attractions here to keep you entertained, including the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe Plaza Inc., the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, and famous Meow Wolf interactive art exhibit. Our tip? Get here early, as you may find it hard to fit everything into just one day!

Santa Fe National Forest

Less than a 2-hour drive from Rio Rancho is the must-see Santa Fe National Forest, which covers 1.6-million acres. It’s the perfect escape to Mother Nature, offering recreational activities such as hiking, camping, fishing, skiing, picnicking, and tons more. Bring your camera and/or binoculars too, as there are plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities to be had!

As a final reminder, some of these activities may need to wait until businesses fully reopen from coronavirus closures. However, there is still much to see and experience in Rio Rancho that you can enjoy today! What are your favorite spots in Rio Rancho? Send them our way to [email protected] or by tagging us on Instagram @rvshare and using the hashtag #rvsharelocal.

Santa Fe National Forest

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