New Mexico Scenic Drive: Billy the Kid Trail

Highlights of the Billy the Kid Trail

Sierra Blanca in the Lincoln National Forest is breathtaking in the sun and takes on a mystical appearance in stormy weather.
Sierra Blanca in the Lincoln National Forest is breathtaking in the sun and takes on a mystical appearance in stormy weather.

The Billy the Kid Trail travels through a region marked by exceptional beauty and diversity. From grassy plains to dense pine forests, the region is known for its stunning views and cool mountain climate. Teeming with fish and wildlife, this area beckons hunters, anglers, skiers, and photographers from around the country. Visually, it is breathtakingly different from the arid desert that surrounds it.

Consider taking the following historic tour of Billy the Kid country.

Byway Visitor Center: Begin at the Byway Visitor Center located on U.S. Highway 70, and view the exhibits.

Hubbard Museum of the American West: Right next door to the visitor center is the Hubbard Museum of the American West. Here, exhibits, artifacts, and fine art tell of the special history of the area.

Ruidoso: Heading west on U.S. Highway 70, you pass through the village of Ruidoso, and then turn north on NM Highway 48. Traveling about 26 miles along NM Highway 48, notice the beautiful Sierra Blanca to the west.

Capitan: The next stop of the tour is in Capitan. Here, the Smokey Bear Museum and State Park is a must-see; Smokey is actually buried here. The museum offers exhibits, games, and films about fire safety. There is also a documentary film about Smokey's life.

Fort Stanton: Travel southeast to Fort Stanton. The fort itself is not accessible; however, be sure to stop at the Fort Stanton Post Office and speak with Willie Mae Hobbs, an expert about the Fort Stanton area. The Fort Stanton Cemetery and Cave are definite stops along the tour.

Lincoln: After Fort Stanton, drive northeast on U.S. 220 and then southeast U.S. 380 until you arrive in Lincoln. The Lincoln County War started here, and this is also where Billy the Kid made his last escape. Museums and markers are all over this village, which looks almost exactly as it did in the 1850s.

Pack your adventurous spirit -- and your kids -- and head out to the Wild West on the Billy the Kid Trail.

Find more useful information related to New Mexico's Billy the Kid Trail:

  • New Mexico Scenic Drives: The Billy the Kid Trail is just one of the scenic byways in New Mexico. Check out the others.
  • Ruidoso, Ruidoso Downs: Find out what there is to do in these cities along the Billy the Kid Trail.
  • Scenic Drives: Are you interested in scenic drives beyond New Mexico? Here are more than 100 scenic drives throughout the United States.
  • How to Drive Economically: Fuel economy is a major concern when you're on a driving trip. Learn how to get better gas mileage.