The charming mountain village of
Cloudcroft owes its existence to the beauty that surrounds it. In 1898,
an El Paso-Northeaster Railroad crew was laying out the route for the
famous Cloud-Climbing Railroad and stopped to rest on the summit
of the Sacramento Mountains.
Standing under the tall,
cool pines, the crew looked west to the vibrant slash of White Sands
almost 5,000 feet below and picked their resting place as the site of
the railroad’s lodge. Impressed by the white clouds slipping by at
almost ground level, it was a young Englishman in the party who chose
the name of Cloudcroft, meaning a cloud in a field.
Cloudcroft is located on U.S. Hwy 82 and is easily accessible from both east and west. The western approach from Alamogordo (north of El Paso, Texas on U.S. Hwy 54) is a steep 16-mile climb of nearly 5,000 vertical feet that takes travelers through a variety of climatic zones, from the Chihuahuan Desert at the bottom to an alpine climate at the top. Beautiful scenery and spectacular unspoiled vistas are encountered at every turn of the highway. In particular, the view from the overlook near one of New Mexico’s only tunnels and the graceful old wooded Mexican Canyon Trestle that nestles in a canyon just outside the village.
From the trestle looking down on the panorama of Alamogordo. White Sands and the San Andres Mountains 30 miles to the west, the view can only be described as breathtaking. From the east, the road begins a more gradual ascent from Artesia and travels through wide ranch lands and past wandering streams on its way to Cloudcroft, at 8,700 feet. High mountain meadows and cool air are a welcome relief from the surrounding desert on either approach. Warm summer days are sprinkled with mountain showers that come and go quickly, but which leave behind a variety of wildflowers that blanket the meadows and line the roads. Summer temperatures reach the upper 70’s, but nighttime lows remain in the cool 40’s and 50’s.
The greatest attraction in the Cloudcroft area is the 1.1 million acre Lincoln National Forest that surrounds the village. Here, a wide variety of recreational activities are available: picnicking, camping, horseback riding, hiking, fishing, mountain biking, downhill and cross-country skiing (at the country’s southernmost ski area), snowmobiling, ice skating (an outdoor rink) and all terrain vehicle riding. Also, available nearby are miniature golf, golf (including one of the highest golf courses in North America), disc golf, rollerblading and tennis. The mountains are habitat of bear, turkey, elk, deer, antelope and mountain lion.
The village has a charming collection of shops that specialize in handmade items, many from local artisans. The old-time atmosphere of the town is enhanced by its Old-West architecture and wooden barrels of flowers that line the main street. There are a variety of restaurants, motels, two banks, five churches and a modern medical clinic, all located within several blocks of downtown. There are plenty of accommodations ranging from the historical Lodge to smaller motels and cabins. The Lodge in Cloudcroft is one of the most popular places to visit. The original Lodge was built by the railroad in 1901. After this structure burned in 1909, the present larger building was erected, and, in the course of time, has become a New Mexico landmark. Fine accommodations and elegant dining are still offered at The Lodge. Many famous wanderers have stopped to relax at The Lodge, including every one of New Mexico’s governors. Such famous names as Pancho Villa, Gilbert Roland, Clark Gable and Judy Garland have appeared in the guest register. Directly behind The Lodge is a nine-hole golf course. At about 9,000 feet, it is the highest nine-hole golf course in the United States, and certainly one of the most beautiful.
The best description of Cloudcroft would be a quiet, quaint and scenic village with year-round activities. It is a family-oriented resort definitely worth seeing. Walking about this lovely village with its charming log cabins and lack of traffic signals puts visitors in a peaceful frame of mind. No matter what time of year you come to Cloudcroft, the friendliness that abounds here will make you feel at home. Join us today in the Playland of the Four Seasons.
Click for Cloudcroft Chamber
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