Our first stop in New Mexico was Las Cruces, a place we immediately fell in love with. New Mexico truly is “The Land of Enchantment”. There is a quiet and natural beauty, rich history and cultures, incredible food, awesome hikes, a warm, dry and sunny climate, the majestic Organ Mountains and lovely welcoming people. It captures you to a point you don’t want to leave. We even got a little carried away and looked at homes one day, dreaming of decorating our little hacienda at the base of the Organ Mountains.
For such a small town, the area around Las Cruces is packed with things to do. Here are a few of our favorite things:
Nearby Old Mesilla Village
Old Village Mesilla was once a major stop on the Butterflield Overland Mail stagecoach line. Today the plaza and adobe buildings feature some great food, shopping and history. You can even visit the Billy the Kid gift shop in the building where Billy the Kid was tried in 1881. There’s lots of great food too.
Sunset views of the Organ Mountains
The majestic Organ Mountains resemble a giant organ with organ pipes extending into the air. These sheer shafts of granite rise up more than 9,000 feet from the desert floor. The highest elevation is the Organ Needle at 9,012 feet. They have been called the stately guardians of the Mesilla Valley. Sunset turns them to a beautiful shade of orange.
We spent two separate days hiking near the Organ Mountains in the Dripping Springs Natural Area. Both hikes were amazing!
Favorite Place to Stay
We stayed at Clara’s Nest – a sweet Hacienda we found on Airbnb. It was beautiful decorated and so comfy!
We had one long day that began with a morning hike at Pine Tree Loop Trail and finished the afternoon at White Sands National Monument. We could barely stay awake long enough for a shower and bed as we finished the 21,000 step (10 mile) day, but it was worth every step!
Pine Tree Loop Trail
The Pine Tree Trail is a four-mile loop with spectacular views of the Organ Mountains and the Tularosa Basin. It depends upon the source, but the hike is somewhere around 4-5 miles with an elevation increase of about 1,000 feet. The half-way point is at 6,880 feet. We were happy to catch our breath and celebrate with oranges and a snack before making our way back down. Even if you don’t want to do the hike, it’s a nice scenic drive up to the Aguirre Spring Campground where the trailhead begins.
White Sands National Monument
If you are anywhere near southern New Mexico, don’t miss this amazing place. The drive through White Sands National Monument is a 16 mile round trip with plenty of places to pull over and check out these white Gypsum dunes. You will feel like you stepped into another world simply by walking a few feet from your vehicle and onto the incredible dunes. The gypsum sand at White Sands is soft, powdery, and more firm than other sand dunes so it’s easy to walk on. You can even go sledding!
We took the sunset stroll with a Park Ranger who was hilarious and informative at the same time. The day we visited was cloudy so we didn’t get the incredible color at sunset, but amazing all the same.
If you go, check in advance that the dunes are open, wear sunscreen, take plenty of water, and follow the precautions. The white sand can be disorienting and very hot with no shade.
The Recycled Roadrunner
If you know Bill, you know how he is hard core about recycling. So when he saw the 20 foot Roadrunner made entirely of recycled materials he got so excited he even took photos – a rare sighting indeed.
A few tips:
Wear sunscreen, watch for rattlesnakes, & purchase a National Park pass (It will save you a lot of money in the long run for entrance fees). Most of all breathe, relax enjoy and enjoy this Land of Enchantment.
Next up we travel north to Santa Fe and Taos. We’d love to hear about your favorite places in New Mexico.