Tucked away in southern New Mexico, a stone's throw from White Sands National Park and the Mexican border, Lincoln National Forest is a green oasis in the midst of an endless desert. Here, you can hike high into the breezy, forested mountains or head deep into wild and rocky canyons. For an adrenaline rush, you can race down mountain paths on a mountain bike or OHV. In the winter, join locals at the Ski Apache ski area for a day in the snow. With more than 1 million acres of space, it's a breeze to find solitude or to enjoy your adventure with other outdoor enthusiasts.
The La Pasada Encantada Trail offers a way for every type of traveler to enjoy the wilderness. The interpretive exhibits are designed with people who have impaired sight in mind; in addition to traditional signs, the trail offers Braille signs. The edges of the trail are marked with large railroad ties to make it easier for people with canes to navigate the path. Located in a lovely forested location, this is a cool, relaxing hike.
Length: 0.4 mile round trip
Design your own hike on the National Recreation Rim Trail, which starts in Cloudcroft and travels south toward Sunspot. If you have two vehicles, you can leave one at a trailhead along the route; alternatively, you can enjoy an out-and-back hike. The trail is forested and beautiful, making it a popular way to escape the summer heat. From May to September, you'll see plenty of other hikers and bikers along the way. Keep in mind that most of this trail is open to motorized vehicles, so you may need to allow the occasional motorcycle to pass.
Length: 31.2 miles one way
When it comes to spectacular views, it's hard to beat the Crest Trail. Traveling high into the White Mountains, it takes you to mountain summits and spectacular viewpoints; on clear days, you can see all the way across the desert. This route is lightly trafficked, making it a great choice when you're seeking solitude. The trail starts at the Skyline Campground, which is a good place to park for a custom out-and-back day hike.
Length: 20 miles one way
Intensity: Moderate to Difficult
If you're picnicking or camping in the beautiful Bluff Springs area, make sure to hike the short Willie White Spur T112. It follows a historic railroad grade through the trees, offering a pleasant walk. The trail ends at the Willie White Trail, which travels for another 5.2 miles through the wilderness.
Length: 0.6 miles one way
The Dog Canyon Trail is a stunning trail located on the southwestern edge of Lincoln National Forest. You can start at the top of the canyon near Forest Service Road 90b or at the bottom in Oliver Lee State Park. For an easier hike, leave one vehicle at either end of the trail. Expect a challenging route with steep, rocky slopes; this hike is best for experienced hikers. The trail is mostly exposed, so leaving early in the morning can help you avoid most of the midday heat.
Length: 5.5 miles one way
Enjoy the wilderness without bikes or motorized vehicles on the Osha Trail. This is an extremely popular trail, and for good reason — it's wide and well-maintained, giving you an easy way to explore the wilderness. Some sections of the trail pass through the forest, so there's plenty of shade on hot summer days. As you hike, watch for the fantastic views of Cloudcroft, the surrounding mountains, and New Mexico's legendary white sand dunes. At one point, you'll catch a glimpse of the Mexican Canyon Trestle, a historic wooden railroad bridge. The trail is accessible for most of the year.
Length: 2.2 miles one way
Intensity: Easy to Moderate
In addition to hiking, Lincoln National Forest offers an array of outdoor activities. If you're interested in identifying plants, birds, and animals, head to Nelson Canyon Vista Interpretive Site or Trestle Vista Observation Site. Since the region is quite dry, there are no opportunities for fishing. You can, however, try caving in the Guadalupe Ranger District. Other popular activities include OHV riding, horseback riding, and skiing. To see the wilderness from your car, head to 5 Points Vista, Haynes Canyon Vista, or Monjeau Lookout.
Lincoln National Forest doesn't currently sponsor any geocaches, but you can create your own in the designated wilderness areas. If you do, make sure that you don't dig or destroy any resources.
If you're camping in Lincoln National Forest, make sure to get outside of your RV after dark. The stars can be extremely bright, particularly in areas on the eastern edge of the forest.
Address: 3463 Las Palomas, Alamogordo, NM 88310
Fee: Entry fee $0
With its exceptional hiking and unique history, Lincoln National Forest offers a diverse range of activities. Enjoy breezy summer days high in the mountains, explore pioneer villages, or get your heart pounding with an exciting mountain bike ride. Whether you're coming during the height of the busy summer season or searching for winter snow, an RV is the perfect way to camp comfortably just steps from your next adventure.