To the west of Las Cruces is the Gila National Forest, City of Rocks State Park and Rockhound State Park. The Gila is home to the Gila Cliff Dwellings, the former home of the Mogollon Indian tribe. This ancient city is set about 150 miles northwest of Las Cruces. Located about an hour and a half from Las Cruces, City of Rocks is a collection of incredible rock formations that formed of volcanic ash over 20 million years ago. And just about an hour away is Rockhound State Park, a must see for any rockhound because of the park’s abundance of agates and quartz crystals. Visitors are allowed to take up to 15 lbs. of rock. For additional information about the Gila National Forest call, 505-388-8201, for City of Rocks, call (575) 536-2800, and for Rockhound, call (575) 546-6182.
North of Las Cruces, visitors can spend a day on the water at both the Caballo Lake and Elephant Butte Lake State Parks only an hour drive from Las Cruces. Both parks boast a full array of water sports, fishing, hiking and camping. The mild climate of the area makes the parks a year-round destination. For additional Caballo State Park information call, (575) 743-3942, for Elephant Butte call (575) 744-5923. You can also take a drive along the Geronimo Trail Scenic Byway
South of Las Cruces check out El Paso, TX, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico and the Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino. Only an hour’s drive from Las Cruces and you can be immersed in the culture and traditions of Old Mexico in Ciudad Juarez. Step back across the border into El Paso, TX and enjoy such attractions as a zoo, historic missions and Scenic Drive. On your way back to Las Cruces, check out the Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino, featuring 300 gaming machines, live seasonal horse racing and year-round simulcast racing seven days a week. For more information about visiting El Paso, or taking the El Paso-Juarez Border Jumper Trolley into Mexico, call (915) 544-0062. For Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino call, (575) 874-5200.
Take US Highway 70 east from Las Cruces and spend the day visiting the mountain town of Ruidoso, NM and the gypsum dunes of White Sands National Monument. Less than an hour away, experience one of nature’s great wonders. White Sands National Monument has over 270 square miles of pure white dunes. Travel an hour more and find yourself in the scenic mountain town of Ruidoso in the heart of the Lincoln National Forest and home to the Hubbard Museum of the American West, the Spencer Theater, Ruidoso Down Racetrack, Ski Apache and Inn of the Mountain Gods.
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