A History of Treasure
Throughout the long history of the Red River valley, people have come searching for treasure. Early visitors were mostly trappers and hunters attracted by the riches of abundant wildlife.
Hopeful miners were drawn to the area in the 1870s and ’80s by the gold strikes in Elizabethtown, but ore quality proved too low and the development costs too high to make the ventures profitable. A few prospectors, like the Mallette brothers, persisted and established homesteads. They had some good finds and prospectors began pouring in and filing claims. By 1895 Red River City was a booming gold camp and soon had a population of 3,000 people, complete with 15 saloons, four hotels, two newspapers, a barbershop, a hospital, a school, a sawmill and an active red light district.
The mines shut down after a few years and homesteaders soon outnumbered the miners. But the town lived on, and in the 1930s the few remaining residents realized that the new motherlode for them was tourism. Oklahoman Stokes Bolton carried the vision further when he determined Red River needed a ski area and opened one in 1959. Today, Red River has six buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. History buffs can take a journey back through the 100-year mining history on the eight-mile Placer Creek Trail or the three-mile Pioneer Canyon Trail.
Yes, throughout the history of Red River, people have come looking for treasure – and found it, in the unbelievably blue sky, the trees that reach boldly for the heavens, and the people who wouldn’t trade this life for all “the gold in them thar hills.”
Red River Facts area code (575)
- Altitude: 8,750 feet
- Average Winter Temperature: 40F day/-12F night
- Average Summer Temperature: 75F day/38F night
- Average Snowfall: 188″ per year
- Town Services: Police/Fire/Ambulance/ Emergency 911
- Chamber of Commerce: 575-754-2366 x 1
- Tourist Information: Red River Visitor Center – 1-877-754-1708
- Public Library: Main Street and Jayhawk Trail – 575-754-6564
- Post Office: Main Street – 575-754-2555
- Churches: Faith Mountain Fellowship (Interdenominational), River House Community House (Nondenominational), St. Edwin’s Catholic and Episcopalian N. Silver Bell Trail, First Baptist Church of Red River.
- Red River is a Tree City Community
Things You Need To Know About Red River
- Red River is located in the southern Rocky Mountains, part of the Sangre de Cristo Range. The village is completely surrounded by the Carson National Forest.
- The air up here (8,750′) is like fine wine. It takes less to get to you. Take it easy the first couple of days.
- Unlike Las Vegas, Red River does sleep. The saloons stay open plenty late, but stores, restaurants and the gas station close anywhere from 9:00 am - 11:00 pm.
- The Red River Fire Department has one of the finest emergency medical services in the state. If you have a medical emergency, don’t hesitate to call 911.
Area Flora & Fauna
- Trees Aspen, ponderosa pine, douglas fir, silver and blue spruce, cottonwood and more.
- Wildflowers There are dozens of wild flowers native to our forest, including columbine, cinquefoil, firecracker pantomimists, yucca, marriages lily, Indian paintbrush and bluebell.
- Animals Beaver, black bear, chipmunk, mule deer, elk, bobcat and many others.
- Fish German brown, rainbow, brook and cutthroat trout; pike and salmon in nearby waters.
- Birds Broadtail and rufous hummingbird, tree swallow, mountain bluebird, robin, junco, Stellar’s bluejay, woodpecker, golden, dove owl and several others.