Las Cruces is not only the crossroads of warm weather, history, culture and fun, it is a launching point for southern New Mexico adventure and exploration.
Less than one hour east of Las Cruces, beyond the rugged Organ Mountains lies White Sands National Park, one of Earth’s most amazing sites. This vast desert of pure gypsum dunes measures more than 275 square miles and provides a home to a wide array of unique desert plants and animals. Park ranger-guided tours and programs such as Full Moon Night, Sunset Strolls and the White Sands Evening Program, give visitors an opportunity to learn more about the dunes and enjoy the endless recreational possibilities. The monument is also an ideal spot for family outings and provides the perfect foreground to capture a beautiful New Mexico sunset.
A little farther down the highway in Alamogordo, NM is the New Mexico Museum of Space History, displaying artifacts and memorabilia documenting the history of U.S. space exploration. Also on site is the Clyde W. Tombaugh IMAX Dome Theater and Planetarium, so named for the discoverer of Pluto and long-time Las Cruces resident Clyde W. Tombaugh.
While in the area, visit El Paso, Texas, also known as “Paso del Norte” to early Spanish explorers. Today, the city serves as the gateway from Mexico to the United States, and boasts such attractions as a zoo and minor-league baseball, hockey and soccer teams. Between El Paso and Las Cruces lies Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino, equipped with a year-round casino and quarter horse and thoroughbred racing from December until May.
When heading north out of Las Cruces, stop and enjoy Elephant Butte Lake State Park and Caballo Reservoir, the largest lakes in the state and only one hour north of Las Cruces. Elephant Butte provides year-round water recreation and camping, with boat rental and storage available through the marina. Caballo Reservoir, just south of Elephant Butte, is ideal for fishing and bird watching.
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 Indians, and is also perfect for camping, hiking, mountain biking and motorcycling. City of Rocks State Park and Rockhound State Park are collections of unusual rock formations and giant monoliths formed from the erosion of volcanic materials many years ago. The parks are open for camping, picnicking, or sightseeing. All three are located about two hours west of Las Cruces.