The Red River area is deep in history. Ute and Jicarilla Apaches fought and raided nearby pueblos and roamed the area. When explorers, fur trappers and prospectors discovered the area, they put River City, as Red River was first called, on the map. Hundreds of gold, silver and copper mines were carved into the mountain with names like Golden Treasure, Silver King and Black Copper. Red River's population soared. There were two general mercantiles, a livery stable, two newspapers, a sawmill, blacksmith shop, barber shop, more than a dozen saloons, several hotels and boarding houses, a dance hall and a hospital. There was also a red light district with plenty of gambling and bar room brawls.
The mines played out eventually, but soon homesteaders outnumbered prospectors. Town gained new momentum by renting abandoned mining cabins to flatland visitors seeking refuge from the heat. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Red River was designated the "mountain playground" that it is today.