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A guide to Cloudcroft, N.M., a hipster paradise

Scouts of America pitch their tents and begin preparations for the day’s activities.


Two hours up the Patriot Freeway, past Alamogordo, lays Cloudcroft, New Mexico. At 9,000 feet above sea level, Cloudcroft sits at the perfect altitude to be consistently 30 degrees cooler than El Paso. The village, though small, has the charm and charisma that other increasingly commercial mountain towns, like Ruidoso, have lost.

A few off-duty Prospector staff—three of which happen to have hipster-like qualities—paid a short visit to the village on Jan. 18. They determined that it is the ultimate winter hipster haven.

Whether bringing it or buying it: water is a must. At this altitude, water retention is decreased. El Pasoans may suffer from dizziness, nausea or headaches as symptoms of altitude sickness, but H2O is the best remedy.

Ski Palace, previously Ski Cloudcroft, is easily accessible just outside the village limits. A full outfit of equipment and gear can be rented for less than $30, including more interesting winter sports like snowblades, snowskates and cross-country skis.

While heading towards Karr, southeast of the village, is the Dunn Solar Telescope at Sunspot, New Mexico. The road leading in is labeled with planets, all spaced by relative distance to the sun. Scientifically-inclined hipsters will revel at the opportunity to see one of three flagship solar telescopes in the country. (Nighttime telescopes are so mainstream.) It is also a rare chance to get encouraged to stare directly at the sun. The facilities, gift shop and restrooms are generally open from 9 – 5 though weather conditions may limit accessibility.

Lunch is best eaten at the local culinary enigma. Off of the highway is a joint located in New Mexico, selling Texas BBQ and run by Alabamians. Regardless of their statehood affiliation, Texas Pit Barbeque has a homemade sauce worthy of dousing any cut of meat and a large enough menu to provide options to most diners. Don’t expect gluten free in this town ,though.

A few blocks down are the shopping areas on Burro Street. Many stores have winter hours which will see them closing at about 4:30 p.m. Visitors should plan accordingly.

Cattycorner from High Altitude is the Mountain Bakery. The owner, previously of Louisiana, brings a certain southern charm to baked goods. The owner is often the one serving and baking, so take a moment to relax and chat with him. Last time around, he was pondering the physics of the perfect beignets (French donuts).

Upstairs, right next to the Mountain Times newspaper office, is Imaginary Books. The shop has a phenomenal selection of classics, best-sellers and science-fiction. Dotting the walls are sheets of paper proclaiming “The Book Man’s best” with lists of westerns, novels and romance recommendations. The prices are phenomenal and the view from the store windows is stellar.

The main street rolls up early in the mountains. After dark, the options are severely limited. Allsups, a local convenience store, stays open late in the evenings. But most shopping is done by 6 p.m.

The Front Porch Grill is a mainstay in Cloudcroft. The Sacramento Mountains may not be known for its cuisine but a visit to The Porch may change that. Pizza, beer and wings seem to taste better at the altitude, though the restaurant also serves a variety of local dishes, which include green chile.

Anyone staying in the National Forest must look skyward after dark. The village doesn’t have light pollution. The air is clear of smog and the stars themselves are thousands of feet closer. With a number of applications available on devices to locate constellations, this is the moment to become an amateur astronomer.

The drive back home will take hipsters through other villages like Wooten and High Rolls. Many of them have shops that sell local produce and products. High Rolls is known for its homemade apple butter and cider, while fruit stands will dot the high way during the growing season.

Though technically part of Alamogordo, McGinn’s is a required stop when “coming down the hill,” leaving the national forest. They are at the foot of the mountain and carry a number of hyper-local products. Pistachios, wine and other orchard products are available alongside crafts and artisanal products. The apple wine is a perfect gift to remember the crisp sweet air of the Sacramento Mountains while the lemon-lime pistachios are an ideal symbol of the rugged earth of Southern New Mexico.

After you get off the mountain, wash your car. The salt and clay they use to un-slick the road can wreak havoc on an undercarriage. The Boy Scouts have a motto to camping: Leave only footprints and take only pictures. The hipster haven deserves to persevere in its quiet cool nest in the Sacramento Mountains.

S. David Ramirez may be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
S. David Ramirez
S. David Ramirez, Staff Reporter
S. David Ramirez is currently an English and American Literature major wrapping up his final year at UTEP. He has written for the Lakefront, the Thing Itself literary magazine, the Tejano Tribune and The Prospector. When not striving for journalistic excellence, he helps organize fandom conventions around the Lone Star State, including El Paso Wintercon and San Japan, San Antonio’s largest Japanese culture and anime convention. He hopes to spend his academic career educating the public about the dangers of Jane Austen and the medicinal benefits of reading the Brontë sisters. His research in popular culture studies has taken him across the nation and he hopes to continue presenting findings on music, media and literature at future conferences. David says his success is due to a pact with the dread Lord Cthlulhu of R’ley fame, but he may just be reading too much H. P. Lovecraft in his off time. He is currently applying to graduate schools for communication rhetoric or writing and rhetoric. If you, or someone you know, is on these admissions boards, please contact him directly.
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A guide to Cloudcroft, N.M., a hipster paradise