Socorro, a hidden gem, draws outdoor enthusiasts with new trails and a bustling craft-brewery scene.


Kim Schaffer, a retired teacher and principal, has been exploring Socorro for 35 years. A hiker, biker, and runner, she calls the town of roughly 9,000 people a nature lover’s paradise that sets itself apart from other small New Mexico cities because of its access to trails and diverse outdoor attractions within minutes of the Historic Plaza.


Among Schaffer’s favorite trails is Quebradas Backcountry Byway, with more than 20 miles of colorful red, purple, and yellow sand, limestone, and shale landscapes, featuring rolling canyons and pockets of ancient pictographs. “The quiet and solitude have always been big draws,” Schaffer says. “With several new trails, more people are discovering how much outdoor activity there is.”


Bird-watchers and hikers have long known that Socorro makes for the perfect stop after wandering the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge’s 57,000 acres, especially during the annual fall and winter sandhill crane and snow geese migrations. With several walking trails, observation sites, and scenic overlooks, the refuge features a variety of wildlife, birds, and natural beauty year-round.


The 14-mile out-and-back Blue Canyon Trail, which can easily be divided into smaller, 1.3-mile segments, is a recent addition to the Socorro trail system. It starts at the Socorro Rodeo & Sports Complex—a state-of-the-art facility hosting equestrian and roping events, concerts, festivals, and sporting events—and leads to an overlook of the valley.

Socorro Box Canyon

For those seeking an even bigger challenge, a spur leads to Box Canyon Area, a mecca for rock climbers looking to test their finger strength and toe grips. “There’s another new trail going to Gramont Peak,” says Schaffer. “That trail is well traveled because there’s a bench at the top to take in the sunrise or sunset.” Schaffer recommends Socorro Trails as an outdoors resource.


About 10 miles northwest of Socorro, San Lorenzo Canyon offers hiking, rock climbing, and sightseeing areas with towering rock formations, narrow gorges, and stunning views of the surrounding desert landscape. Look for bighorn sheep, mule deer, and a stellar variety of birds.

Socorro San Lorenzo

Especially popular during the summer, Water Canyon draws visitors for its natural springs and streams, hiking trails, picnic and camping areas, and scenic overlooks in the Magdalena Mountains. Watch for black bears, mountain lions, and elk there.


In town, the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology’s 18-hole championship course challenges golfers of all skill levels. Named by Golf Digest as one of the 10 best public courses in New Mexico, and one of America’s 500 best places you can play, the 6,596-yard layout features dramatic elevation changes and picturesque Río Grande Valley backdrops.


After a day spent outdoors, don’t miss the Mineral Museum on the New Mexico Tech campus. One of the largest mineral collections in the world, it highlights some 5,000 specimens in the main gallery alone. Visitors can get an overview of the region’s history and culture at the Socorro County Historical Society’s Hammel Museum, where the building’s evolution from brewery to ice-making plant in the 1950s is on display.


Head out for a beer, a bite to eat, and live music at Capitol Bar and Brewery, Box Canyon Brewing Company, or Baca House Brewing, all near Socorro’s Historic Plaza. Home to art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants, the Plaza hosts events, concerts, farmers’ markets, food-truck meetups, and gatherings throughout the year. Schaffer recommends the wood-fired pizza at Socorro Springs Restaurant.

Socorro Rio Grande Valley

“Socorro is such a welcoming, beautiful place with its own eclectic character,” she adds. “The beauty of the high desert and mountains, the incredible landscapes, the big sky, and the arts, culture, and music of the city itself make Socorro a surprising and wonderful place to visit.”