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Spotlight: Lincoln National Forest, New Mexico

Spotlight: Lincoln National Forest, New Mexico

Where a scorched bear cub rescued from a wildfire became a national symbol.
Happy 70th Birthday Smokey Bear!

Lincoln National Forest Celebrating Smokey Bear's 70th, Lincoln National Forest, New Mexico (USFS)

What You’ll Find

High mountain meadows, mixed conifer forest, Chihuahuan desert and rugged wilderness describe some of the dramatic beauty found in the Lincoln National Forest. Elevations range from 4,000 to 11,500 feet and include a diverse range of vegetation from rare cacti in the lower elevations to Englemann spruce in the high country. Just as diverse, recreation in the Lincoln National Forest includes something for everyone – camping, hiking, off-highway vehicle riding, bicycling, scenic driving and much more!

Don’t Forget

Smokey Bear’s 70th birthday is August 9! The living symbol of Smokey Bear was an American black bear cub rescued in 1950 from a fire in the Capitan Mountains in the Lincoln National Forest. The firefighters who rescued the bear cub called him Hot Foot Teddy but his name was quickly changed to Smokey Bear. He was brought to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and became the living symbol of forest fire prevention until his death in 1976.

Still dressed in a ranger's hat, belted blue jeans, and carrying a shovel, Smokey Bear has been the recognized wildfire prevention symbol since 1944. Show your commitment to wildfire prevention and take the pledge!

Getting There

Located in south-central New Mexico, the Lincoln National Forest is about an hour-and-a-half drive east from Las Cruces along US-70 and just over an hour’s drive west from Roswell along US-380.

Stay Here

The Lincoln offers most of its campgrounds on a first-come, first-served basis. For those special summer events and family get-togethers, enjoy the Lincoln’s group campgrounds offering advanced reservations. Group campgrounds include the Aspen Group Area, Black Bear Group Area, Cedar Creek (Sam Tobias), Lower Fir Group Area, Slide Group Area and the Upper Fir Group Area.

Make Sure You

Join the Lincoln National Forest to celebrate Smokey Bear’s birthday! The forest will be dedicating the Smokey Bear Ranger District’s newly remodeled visitor center on August 9 in celebration of Smokey’s special day. Located in Ruidoso, New Mexico, the visitor center is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and offers interpretive displays, a children’s activity area and gift store featuring Smokey Bear items for all of his fans, young and old.

Try This

Although stargazing under the dark night skies of the Lincoln is stunning, a visit to the observatory at the Sunspot Visitor Center and Museum is an enlightening experience! Located in the Sacramento Mountains about 16 miles south of Cloudcroft, the visitor center and museum offer tours, interpretive exhibits and a gift shop. The guided tour includes a visit to the observatory’s largest telescope, the Dunn Solar Telescope.

Get Started

Plan your next outing and learn more about the Lincoln National Forest, including special areas like Trestle Recreation Area and the White Mountain Wilderness area, as well as the rich history represented by the forest’s nine remaining fire lookouts.

Did You Know?

As we celebrate Smokey Bear’s 70th Birthday, please remember why Smokey still needs our help in preventing accidental wildfires.

  • The principle causes of human-related wildfires are campfires left unattended, debris burning on windy days, careless discarding of smoking materials and barbecue coals, and operating equipment without spark arrestors.
  • 9 out of 10 wildfires are caused by humans nationwide.
  • Over the past 13 years, an average of 6.7 million acres of land were burned each year by wildfire.
  • It’s always wildfire season somewhere in the U.S. and every region of the U.S. has wildfires.

Learn more by visiting www.SmokeyBear.com.