Cloudcroft has much to offer

By Clyde Davis: Columnist

Last week in this column, I mentioned the town of Cloudcroft. In fact, the column itself was sent in from Cloudcroft.

This week, in keeping with the idea of summer trips that involve only an overnight or even a long day, I want to bring the focus back to that mountain resort town, which is less than four hours from our area.

It’s a bit unnerving, if you travel the long way via Alamogordo, to leave the desert basin and its 100-degree heat, climb 16 miles straight up, and experience a 30-degree drop in temperature. While our own temperatures have “only” been in the 90s, that may be one of the appealing reasons to head to the Sacramentos for a day or two, cool, dry and the possible drama of a sudden evening thunderstorm.

Camping and wilderness areas abound, with some of these happily reserved for tenters only. If you don’t have an RV and are not excited about tenting, numerous bed and breakfasts can be found, along with motels and the well-known Cloudcroft Lodge, built in the early 1900s and haunted by the 1920s-era ghost of the beautiful, doomed Rebekah, victim of her own beauty and a jealous lumberjack boyfriend.

By the way, if you do tent, remember you are in bear country.

Art is not, in the minds of most non-New Mexicans, synonymous with Cloudcroft. Generally that designation goes to Taos or Santa Fe. It may surprise you, then, to learn that Cloudcroft is the site of the foremost summer art workshops in New Mexico. This summer instructional series has been going on for 50 years, and ranges from colored pencil to pastels to woodcarving, which I will have the privilege of teaching in 2008. Prices for these week-long adult sessions range from around $350 to around $550, depending on the circumstances.

Instructors for the 2007 summer include well-known artists such as Randy Brodnax in ceramics, Robert Burridge in acrylics, Tom Darrah in oils, as well as Gary Greene in photography and Barbara Jenkins in colored pencil.

There’s little doubt that the exceptional quality of the outdoors in this mountain resort inspires the creativity of art students, and makes it possible to relax and focus. I mentioned that much of the surrounding area is protected, being National Forest land, so opportunities for hiking and backpacking, as well as simply picnics or relaxing rides, lie around every turn of the road.

Whether you are looking for a day trip or week-long campout, a haunted lodge and local stories, or the chance to learn art from competent instructors, Cloudcroft may find a welcome place on your to-do list this summer.