By Sara Sheehy
September is Monuments to Main Street in Las Cruces! Every Saturday and Sunday in September, the Bureau of Land Management – Las Cruces District and Friends of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks are offering FREE guided hikes for the public to experience and enjoy our National Conservation Lands. Learn more at organmountainsdesertpeaks.org/events! #FriendsOMDP
A vibrant music, food and art scene make Las Cruces a haven of urban pleasures – but no exploration of Las Cruces is complete without feeling the crunch of dirt under your feet and mountain air in your lungs. Lace up a pair of hiking shoes and check out Las Cruces’ wilder side with these three hikes – just in time to celebrate Monuments to Main Street 2017!
Family-Friendly Oasis Along the Rio Grande
Minutes from historic downtown Mesilla is Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park, a 300-acre nature preserve on the banks of the Rio Grande River. Here, 2.7 miles of accessible trails wind through the park. Grab an interpretive booklet at the Visitor’s Center before beginning your hike.
Resaca Trail, the highlight of the trail system, is perfect for a cool riverside breeze and great views of the Organ Mountains. Keep a close eye out for birds; the park is an Audubon designated Important Birding Area.
Open daily 7:30am to 4:30pm; entry is $5 per car. Read more here.
Secluded Hike Through a Mountain-Rimmed Canyon
To the east of Las Cruces, dominating the skyline is a section of the Organ Mountain-Desert Peaks National Monument, designed in 2014. The rugged Organ Mountains have hiking for all abilities, from easy to extreme. The Bar Canyon Loop offers up the best of Organ Mountain scenery for beginner and intermediate hikers.
Bar Canyon begins at the Soledad Canyon Day Use Area, 10 miles east of downtown Las Cruces. The 3.1-mile hike covers two loops, one of which passes the ruins of a small homestead. Sweeping views of the southern Mesilla Valley are abundant along the route.
Entry gate is open from 8am to 4:30pm (exit allowed until sunset); free guided hikes are offered all month long as part of Monuments to Main Street! Read more here.
Leg-Burning Climb into the Organ Mountains
For a hike to challenge your lungs and legs, look no further than Baylor Pass. This trail brings you into the heart of the Organ Mountains, rewarding your efforts with stunning views in all directions.
Beat the heat by starting this 6.9-mile (round trip) hike in the morning. After making modest elevation gains over the first mile, the trail switchbacks up the head of the canyon to Baylor Pass, gaining almost 1,700 feet total. Once atop the pass, enjoy panoramic views of Las Cruces and the town of White Sands. Constant chirping will have you peeking into the trees to spot the plentiful birds.
Return the way you hiked in, or grab a buddy and park a second car at the trailhead off Aguirre Springs Road to make it a point-to-point hike from one side of the Organ Mountains to the other.
Free guided hikes are offered all month long as part of Monuments to Main Street! Read more here.
Desert Hiking Tips
For a full-day hike, carry and drink one gallon of water per person (or one half-gallon for a half-day hike). Wear sunscreen and a hat to stay protected from the harsh, high elevation sun, and plan to hike in the cooler temperatures before noon when possible. Always tell someone where you are going and when you plan to be back. And have fun!