We had a great week exploring the southern area of New Mexico. Our first destination was Carlsbad. We drove to Carlsbad from San Antonio on an extremely windy day. Crosswinds were significant and we were going through some pretty sandy areas. Not only was the shaking of the RV a little nerving, but we were also worried about sandblasting the vehicles. We were happy to finally get to Carlsbad unscathed.
We had read that the Carlsbad Caverns were like no other caverns. Hidden beneath the surface of the Chihuahuan Desert are more than 119 known caves. They were formed when sulfuric acid dissolved the surrounding limestone, forming the caverns. You are able to take a self-guided tour through the Big Room chamber, which is over a mile long. You can also take a self-guided tour through the Natural Entrance, which is a 750-foot trail down into the cavern. In the summertime millions of bats fly out of the Natural Entrance each night. We would have like to have seen that, but we were too early in the year. In addition to doing both self-guided tours we took one guided tour into the King’s Palace. At one point they turn the lights off and it is pitch black. Pretty neat. We spent nearly the entire day in the caverns and really enjoyed it.
The pictures below show the area where the caverns are. It is amazing to think that just behind / underneath these hillsides that the deep caverns exist.
We ran into some wild mountain goats in the park.
While visiting the caverns we stayed at White’s City RV Park. Although I have to say that ‘City’ is quite an overstatement. There is nothing around for many miles. The advantage of this place though is that it is located literally at the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns National Park and that you have a great view of the Guadeloupe Mountains. We were lucky to get a corner lot with lots of room.
The beautiful Guadaloupe Mountains
After Carlsbad we headed over to Las Cruces for a few nights. On the way we made a stop at the Border Patrol Museum in El Paso. It was interesting to see the history and how the process of patrolling the border has evolved over time.
In Las Cruces we stayed at the Hacienda RV Resort. It is a very nice resort located a stone’s throw away from Old Town Mesilla. After parking the rig we decided to head over there for some window shopping and drinks. I did find some awesome black bean salsa and smoky mountain whiskey glaze at one of the shops. We’ve been enjoying the salsa on eggs each morning and the whiskey glaze on chicken. Yummy!
The next day we decided to take a day trip on the Geronimo Trail Scenic Byway. The landscape is absolutely beautiful. I think the highlight of the trip was a ‘ghost town’ called Chloride. When the town was deserted many years ago the owner of the general store left the contents in tact and simply closed up shop. That general store is now a free museum. It is really interesting.
The town of Chloride, on the northern portion of the Geronimo Trail:
Before you turn down the road to Chloride you find yourself in Winston. There is a quaint General Store where you can buy anything from milk to guns and gas.:
Landscape from the Geronimo Trail, North and South portions:
When we arrived at the vista point in the Gila National Forest we noticed that many of the trees had been burned. Turns out, they had a large fire in 2013.
After spending the majority of the last few days driving we decided to get out and do some hiking. We headed over to the Dripping Springs Natural Area, in the Organ Mountains. The Dripping Springs trail leads you to an old resort which was built back in the 1870s by Colonel Eugene Van Patten. The last owner, a doctor, turned it into a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients. The resort was deserted around 1946.
After a good hike out in the sun we decided to head over to White Sands National Monument. On the way there we passed the White Sands Missile Range Museum so we decided to stop by and take a look.
The missile park displays a variety of missiles and rockets, which have been tested at White Sands. There is also an indoor museum. Both are free. There are over 50 missiles on display, including everything from the WAC Corporal and Loon to a Pershing II and Patriot.
We arrived at White Sands a few hours before sunset. We found the park to be amazing. There is white sand for as far as you can see. Some people put up little tents and spend the day there. It is like a massive beach, without the water. The sand is cool, and extremely soft. We enjoyed sledding down the large hills and photographing the spectacular sunset.
After enjoying the Las Cruces area for a few days we moved over to Tularosa. Some good friends hosted us for a few days. From their house we had a great view of the mountains, and White Sands in the distance.
We took a scenic drive through the mountains outside of Tularosa, stopped in Cloudcroft for some shopping, and had lunch at The Lodge. Apparently, Judy Garland and Clark Gable have also enjoyed dining at The Lodge. It is said that they each carved their names into the wall.
The Lodge in Cloudcroft:
The mountain region outside of Tularosa:
After visiting Cloudcroft we stopped at the Sunspot Astronomy center. Unfortunately, it was closed for the day. However, we did get to walk around and go into one of the buildings.
Back in Tularosa we enjoyed dinner at The Grill 49. We highly recommend it. We also recommend Casa de Suenos, if you are in the mood for a great Mexican meal.
Also note that the area around Tularosa and Alamogordo are known for their pecans and pistachios. There are many opportunities to grab some fresh nuts, and wine.
On our last day in New Mexico we had breakfast at a tiny café in Carrizozo; the Carrizozo Cafe. The breakfast was fabulous.
We then checked out the Valley of Fires Recreation Area. It was a quick stop to see the volcanic landscape that was created over 5,000 years ago.
Our next stop was the town of Lincoln. We toured the historic district and learned all about Billy the Kid and the Wild West.
It was a whirlwind stay in New Mexico. We loved the landscape of White Sands, the beautiful mountains and the brush covered rolling hills on Geronimo Trail. It is definitely an area we would like to come back to.
Our next destination is Arizona. We’ll be spending about 6 weeks in the state working our way up from Tucson to Page.
We’ve actually already finished our Tucson portion of the trip and are currently in Phoenix. I’ve got some work to do in order to catch up on my blog. So much to do and see though.
Best wishes to everybody!