Things to Do in Socorro NM
In Socorro County, plants, animals, and landscapes from the high desert, great plains, and verdant subalpine mountains blend in unexpected and beautiful ways. Our county’s diverse landscapes range over 6,000 feet of elevation, varying from sculpted desert wilderness to riverside cottonwood forests to pine and aspen-studded mountain meadows. Combined with over 300 sunny days a year, opportunities for outstanding and varied year-round outdoor recreation abound.
Extensive National Forest and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands offer nearly unlimited opportunities for exploration and adventure. The Cibola National Forest offers an extensive road and trail system supporting biking, hiking, trail running, hunting, and camping, including two designated wilderness areas, (Withington and Apache Kid), in the San Mateo Mountains. The BLM further manages over a million acres of public land in Socorro and Catron counties. BLM lands range from the Quebradas area just east of Socorro, with its beautiful desert landforms and convenient National Scenic Byway, to a section of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail in the piney mountains to the west. Notable BLM recreation areas include scenic San Lorenzo Canyon and the Box Canyon rock climbing and hiking area just a few miles west of the city of Socorro.
Socorro County is also home to the Sevilleta and Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuges. The Sevilleta is a major research facility that also hosts special outdoor events (including an annual open house with tours each fall). The Bosque del Apache Refuge is internationally renowned for its bird watching, and additionally features a host of wilderness trails and biking on the refuge roads.
Golfers will appreciate the un-crowded links of New Mexico Tech’s 18-hole championship golf course. The course annually hosts the Socorro Springs Open and NM Tech Presidential Golf Tournament, as well as the unique Elfego Baca Shootout. One of the most unique events in golf, the Elfego Baca Shootout tees off atop the 7,243-foot Socorro Peak and ends at a special hole on the New Mexico Tech Campus after a descent of more than 2,500 feet!
Each year, the Socorro Fat Tire Fiesta hosts mountain biking tours and races for participants of all levels. Many other community outdoor events, including running races and triathlon events, are hosted each year by the Socorro Striders and Riders volunteer organization. Regional bird watching at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge and elsewhere in the county is celebrated each fall during the Festival of the Cranes.
Socorro County has a host of sites and events celebrating a record of human activity extending back to prehistory. Clear nights in Socorro County offer spectacular stargazing opportunities. Each year, Socorro plays host to the Enchanted Skies Star Party, which features an array of lectures by outstanding amateur and professional astronomers coupled with unique opportunities for exploring the night sky under truly dark and high-altitude conditions. New Mexico Tech also hosts the Etscorn Observatory, used for both public and teaching activities.
Socorro County also features diverse hunting opportunities for a number of game species, including deer, elk, quail, dove, turkey, pheasants, and waterfowl in its wide range of habitats. An annual proclamation of hunting seasons is published annually by the New Mexico Department of Fish and Game (http://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/).
Socorro County’s clear blue skies, cool nights, and diverse landscapes beg to be experienced. Regardless of how you do it, you will find a whole new meaning to exploring the great outdoors.
Arts and Entertainment
What’s so fun about living in Socorro? Plenty!
Socorro and its environs are rich in arts, culture and entertainment. And if you have a yen to take to the stage yourself, where better?
New Mexico Tech hosts an outstanding Performing Arts Series (PAS), which brings a wide variety of performers every year. Cajun, Celtic, and classical are always popular, but PAS branches out into the unusual as well. Children’s theater, Chinese acrobats, magic shows, singer/songwriters, jazz, bluegrass, flamenco, and Santa Fe Opera singers are just some of the types of shows that have appeared. PAS puts its emphasis on variety. No matter what you like, you’ll find something you like here.
Want to perform yourself? Socorro has a number of performance groups to get involved with. Socorro Community Theater, Community Band, Tech choral and instrumental groups (which are open to community members), and pick-up bands among friends are just some of the possibilities that beckon. Tech hosts a musical production every spring that welcomes performers from the town as well as the college.
Maybe your idea of art is to paint a picture or make a piece of jewelry — or buy something that someone else has made. Either way, you’re in luck! New Mexico Tech’s Community College offers classes in stained glass, pottery, painting, drawing, photography, jewelry making, and many other arts.
Many artists live and work in the area, drawn by the growing gallery scene in Socorro, Magdalena, and San Antonio. The artists, jewelers, and weavers of Alamo Navajo Reservation are active practitioners of traditional arts.
Art shows and sales happen throughout the year, but some of the best and biggest occur during SocorroFest (early fall), the Festival of the Cranes (mid-November), and the Luminaria Arts Crawl (early December). These are great times to visit galleries, including the Fullingim-Isenhour-Leard Gallery just off the plaza, where works of nationally recognized artists in media from oil and watercolor to metal sculpture are displayed. Tech’s Macey Center has a gallery with monthly shows.
Magdalena hosts its own art festival every spring and fall, and stages a number of original plays by the London Frontier Theater Company, a local mainstay since 1996, which brings to life, through story and song, tales from days gone by.