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Cloudcroft, New Mexico
Tucked in a Sprawling National Forest at 9,000 Feet Above Sea Level, Cloudcroft is Remote, Rustic and a Little Touristy
Sitting at an elevation of 9,000 feet above sea level and swaddled by the 1.2 million-acre Lincoln National Forest in south central New Mexico, the sleepy little village of Cloudcroft (population 825) started out as a planned tourist retreat in the late-1800s. It was only accessible by rail, and its famous Lodge at Cloudcroft, once managed by hotel magnate Conrad Hilton, hosted such notables as Clark Cable, Judy Garland and Pancho Villa.
Even today, the luxurious Lodge is Cloudcroft's lifeblood. It is an imposing Victorian structure that may or not be haunted (its elegant, white-cloth restaurant, Rebecca's, is, however, named after the resident ghost). Guests come in search of fresh mountain air, blue skies, high country solitude and inspiration. Cloudcroft's residents enjoy these things every day.
The cost of living is 19% below the national average, and the median home price is $285,000, reflecting a 12% increase since a year ago. Homes, many of which are cabins, are tucked in the forest.
The crime rate is below the national average, and 45% of residents are age 45 or better. Politics lean to the right. The population started dropping in 2015 but has since rebounded. The only way into town is via two-lane Highway 82.
Cloudcroft is remote and rustic but also a little bit touristy (the shops on Burro Street sit along a wooden boardwalk and have Old West facades). Not a lot goes on in this mountain hamlet, but there are a few festivals, including the Memorial Day May Fair and Oktoberfest.
Residents enjoy two golf courses, and the one at the Lodge, which is open to the public, is one of the highest elevation golf courses in the country. Other recreational amenities, including casino gambling and horse racing, are within 50 miles. Camping, hiking and backpacking are opportunities unlimited.
Basic supplies can be found in town, but residents travel to Alamogordo (population 33,000), 18 miles to the west, for more dining and shopping options.
Cloudcroft does not have a hospital, but Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center (GCRM) in Alamogordo has 98 beds and is accredited by the Joint Commission. It accepts Medicare patients, as well as military patients from nearby Holloman Air Force Base. Ruidoso, 25 miles away, also has an accredited hospital.
The Michael Nivison Public Library is small with limited hours, but it has free wi-fi and a friendly staff.
Sacramento Mountains Senior Services provide a number of services, including are recreation activities, insurance assistance, health screenings and nutrition classes at the Cloudcroft Center, as well as home delivered meals.
Cloudcroft does not have a public transportation system.
Summer temperatures are in the 70s and 80s. Winters can get chilly, with temperatures dipping into the teens and 20s. On average, the town receives 75 inches of snow and 30 inches of rain per year. Humidity is practically non-existent.
This part of the country is often in a drought. Many residents keep back-up water tanks.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes, although... | Is New Mexico Tax-Friendly at Retirement? Somewhat
The first Europeans in this area were the Spanish in 1542. The first settlement grew up on the Rio Grande River in 1598, and Saanta Fe was founded as the capital in 1610. The United States won most of New Mexico in the 1848 Mexican War and received the remainder in the 1853 Gadsden Purchase.
During the Civil War, Union troops won New Mexico from the Confederacy. Geronimo surrendered in 1886, and soon after the Apache Wars and most other Native American conflicts ended.
New Mexico has been a leader in energy development and research since 1945. Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, as well as Sandia laboratories, were, and are, instrumental in the solar, nuclear, and geothermal areas of energy development.
The state also has rich mineral deposits and has a large supply of potassium salts and uranium. Copper, natural gas, petroleum, zinc, silver, gold, lead, as well as molybdenum bring in substantial revenue. Farm and ranching poducts include sheep, sorghum, pecans, cotton, peanuts and more.
Fun sites to visit include the Carlsbad Caverns, the ruins located at Fort Union, Inscription Rock at El Morro National Monument, White Sands and Chaco Culture National Historical Park.
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