Las Cruces is an ideal central location to explore, experience and discover the many wonders that southern New Mexico has to offer. Just a short drive in any direction will allow you to immerse yourself in New Mexico’s colorful heritage, rich history and fascinating landscape.
65 miles east of Las Cruces on Hwy. 70 to Alamogordo, then take Hwy. 82 east for 35 miles
Lincoln National Forest
Known as the birthplace of the world-famous Smokey Bear, the forest encompasses three major mountain ranges: Sacramento, Guadalupe and Capitan that cover 1,103,441 acres in four different counties in southeastern New Mexico. Elevations of 4,000 to 11,500 feet pass through five different life zones from Chihuahuan Desert to sub-alpine forest. Recreational opportunities include hiking, biking, winter sports, horseback riding and more. The villages of Ruidoso and Cloudcroft offer visitor information, recreation services, dining and shops.
Head 65 miles east of Las Cruces on Hwy. 70.
3198 State Rte 2001, Alamogordo, NM
(575) 437-2840, (877) 333-6589
New Mexico Museum of Space History
Located in Alamogordo, NM, this museum displays an extensive collection of information and artifacts about the space age and New Mexico’s contributions in the museum’s indoor and outdoor exhibits. The neighboring Clyde W. Tombaugh IMAX Dome Theater and Planetarium is home to southern New Mexico’s only IMAX theater. The museum is open daily from 9 am-5 pm (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas), and admission is $4-$6.
65 miles east of Las Cruces on Hwy. 70 to Alamogordo.
Take US 54 south for 12 miles
Oliver Lee State Park
Named for Oliver Milton Lee, a pioneer southern New Mexico rancher and state legislator, Oliver Lee Memorial State Park is located at the mouth of Dog Canyon in the rugged Sacramento Mountains south of Alamogordo. Recreational opportunities include camping, hiking, picnicking and birding.
Radium Springs, NM
Leasburg State Park
Leasburg Dam State Park offers camping, picnicking and bird watching. From mid-March to mid-October the park offers fishing, canoeing and kayaking. Here a trio of snowy egrets looks for better fishing above historic Leasburg Dam. Leasburg Diversion Dam: Leasburg Diversion Dam was constructed in 1908 on the Rio Grande 62 miles north of El Paso at the head of Mesilla Valley. This structure diverts water into the Leasburg Canal for the upper 31,600 acres of the Mesilla Valley irrigation system. Recent Makeover: The park has attractive picnic and camping facilities on the Rio Grande, a modern restroom with showers, a new playground for the young at heart, a new campfire circle for evening programs, and a new visitor center with exhibits. Fort Selden: Adjacent Fort Selden State Monument has a museum and trails at a 19th-century military outpost.
South of Cloudcroft
Sunspot Scenic Byway
This short 15 mile drive begins just south of Cloudcroft and takes you through the Lincoln National forest, along a route filled with hiking opportunities and scenic views of pine, aspen and fir forests. At the end of the drive you’ll find the Sunspot Visitor Center and Museum as well as the Apache Point Observatory.
70 miles north of Las Cruces on I-25
Elephant Butte Lake State Park
The largest of New Mexico’s state parks provides opportunities for camping and RVing, boating, fishing, hiking and swimming in a magnificent setting of deep blue water and dramatic mountain peaks. The city of Elephant Butte also welcomes visitors with lodging, restaurants and recreational services.
Caballo Lake State Park
Located 20 miles downstream from Elephant Butte, Caballo Lake State Park include facilities for camping, RVs, boating, fishing, swimming and hiking.
Percha Dam State Park
Less than 10 miles downstream from Caballo Lake is the Percha Dam State Park. Visitors can enjoy hiking, boating, camping and picnicking.
70 Miles north of Las Cruces on I-25. 301 S. Foch St., Truth or Consequences, NM
Spaceport Visitor Center
Located among the historic downtown and numerous hot springs of Truth or Consequences, the Spaceport Visitor Center is packed with exciting educational and interactive space exhibits. Visitors can purchase tour tickets and official Spaceport America merchandise prior to journeying out to the Spaceport America site on rolling multi-media theater shuttles.
This 150 mile byway starts at the Geronimo Trail Visitors Center in Truth or Consequences
Geronimo Trail National Scenic Byway
Take your time meandering through living ghost towns – some revitalized with shops, eateries and local businesses. Learn about the land and history of the area from roadside markers and local museums. Enjoy the scenery from your car, or stop and hike at any of the trails in the Gila and Aldo Leopold Wilderness areas.
65 miles west of Las Cruces on I-10 to Deming. Take NM 11 south for five miles, then take NM 141 east for nine miles
Rockhound State Park
Set just south of Deming, NM, in the slopes of the Little Florida Mountains, Rockhound State Park provides opportunities for hiking, picnicking and camping. The visitor center provides insight into the unique history and geology of the area. Up to 15 pounds of rocks and semiprecious gem stones are yours for the taking.
65 miles west of Las Cruces on I-10 to Deming. Take US 180 northwest for 24 miles, then take NM 61 northeast for four miles
City of Rocks State Park
Located about halfway between Silver City and Deming, City of Rocks is made up by a unique formation of rocks that was created by a combination of volcanic activity and erosion. The park offers camp sites, hiking trails, excellent mountain biking, wildlife viewing, stargazing, picnic areas, a visitor center and a desert botanical garden.
65 miles west of Las Cruces on I-10 to Deming, take Hwy. 180 northeast for 52 miles, then take Hwy. 15 north
Gila National Forest
The 6th largest National Forest in the country, the Gila National Forest includes more wilderness areas than any other national forest in the Southwest. It covers approximately 22,700,000 acres in four different counties, and is comprised of the Black, Mogollon, Diablo and Blue mountain ranges. There are several naturally occurring hot springs along the Gila River that visitors can enjoy along with camping, hiking, horseback riding, wildlife viewing and much more.
Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument
This monument, located in the beautiful Gila Wilderness, offers a glimpse of the homes and lives of the people of the Mogollon culture who lived there from the 1280s through the early 1300s. The trail to the Gila Cliff Dwellings is open from 9 am to 4 pm, and the visitor center is open from 8 am to 4:30 pm. The free “Canyon Companion” handout is available at the trailhead contact station and staff is present inside the dwellings at all times to answer questions. Visitors are encouraged to attend guided tours and other programs when they are available.
Junction of state Hwys 152 and 180
Trail of the Mountain Spirits National Scenic Byway
This 93 mile National Scenic Byway begins in Silver City at the junction of state Hwys 152 and 180. The drive will take you around the southwest corner of New Mexico, through the Gila Wilderness Area and charming towns, back and forth across the forested Continental Divide and to ancient cliff dwellings. The byway serves as the route for the grueling annual Tour of the Gila race, and is just as fun for travel by car or motorcycle, or biking.
Living Ghost Towns
Ghost towns are scattered throughout New Mexico. Most were constructed in the late 1800s, built around mining operations or areas picked for settlement because of the possibilities they held for farming or grazing. Many of these abandoned towns were left behind by their inhabitants entirely; standing amongst the structures that remain can make one feel as if they found a place where time stood still. Some towns, though they lost the majority of their population, were never completely abandoned. Today their residents have worked to restore the original structures and to keep the towns alive.
Several different ghost towns are found on or near the routes of the Geronimo Trail and Trail of the Mountain Spirits Scenic Byways, including Engle, Chloride, Hanover, Fierro, Hillsboro, Lake Valley, Mogollon, Monticello and Pinos Altos. Click here for directions and to learn more about the towns.