320 days of sunshine a year make Las Cruces, N.M., an ideal destination for outdoor activities. Home to White Sands, the Organ Mountains Desert Peaks, and Prehistoric Trackways, the Las Cruces area is the perfect place to celebrate September’s National Monument Month. But during any season, visitors will find a myriad of reasons and ways to experience endless blue skies and breathtaking backdrops, from hiking and biking to climbing and sledding or just strolling at a leisurely pace.
1. Hike through rugged terrain
The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument covers 496,000 acres, and boasts adventure-filled trails that lead past a small waterfall, historic buildings, an ancient rock formation and more. The four-mile Dripping Springs trail provides access to the historic ruins of Dripping Springs Resort and La Cueva, a mountain cave believed to have provided human shelter for 5000 years. Soledad Canyon is a popular area for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding amid the scenic vistas of the surrounding mountains.
2. Sled down the dunes at White Sands
Celebrate the National Park Service Centennial with a trip to White Sands National Monument, where gypsum sand dunes sparkle under the sun and stretch as far as the eye can see. Visitors can participate in the many events offered throughout the year including park ranger led sunset walks or rent a sled for an unforgettable ride down the dunes.
3. Good times year-round on the golfing green
Constant sunny weather in Las Cruces makes for endless golfing opportunities. From the scenic course at New Mexico State University to the highly-rated Sonoma Ranch Golf Course, teeing off has never been more picturesque.
4. Mountain biking for charity
Slated for September 25 is the Chile Pepper Challenge, a charity fundraiser where 900 cyclists ride through the scenic Mesilla Valley among groves of New Mexican pecans and chiles. Riders can choose from among several routes according to their skill level, so the challenge is fun for everyone from beginners to hard core cyclists.
5. Strolling around the Farmers & Crafts Market
Saturday mornings in the city are perfect for strolling around the nationally recognized Farmers & Crafts Market, where live music provides the background and customers browse Southwestern jewelry, hand-crafted goods, local produce and more.
6. Bird watching at Bosque State Park
Las Cruces’ location on the north end of the Chihuahuan Desert, plus its close proximity to the Rio Grande and Organ Mountains, means a diversity of habitats and a myriad of bird watching opportunities. Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park, with 945 acres of wetlands is a popular birding spot.
7. Cycling through Stahmann Farms
If mountain terrain seems daunting, try cycling through a more forgiving expanse. Stahmann Farms, one of the largest family-owned pecan orchards, lies just south of Las Cruces near the Rio Grande River. Visitors may bike along historical Highway 28, under the lush green canopy of 180,000 pecan trees.
8. Bouldering in the Organ Mountains
Not only are the Organ Mountains great for hiking and biking; they’re also an optimal destination for rock climbing. Come prepared however – the desert sun and rocky terrain make for a challenging climbing experience.
9. A blast from the Paleozoic Era
The Prehistoric Trackways National Monument is found in the Robledo Mountains. There, explorers will find footprints of various species dating back 280 million years. See where amphibians, inspects, reptiles and more roamed long before any human did.
10. Highway 28 ride
A 40-mile loop trail in the Mesilla Valley takes cyclists on a history-filled ride. From the old village of Mesilla, Highway 28 meanders around the town plaza and to Fort Selden State Monument. Here, visitors can disembark to experience the museum and the old fort ruins of a frontier U.S. Army post. www.lascrucescvb.org/explore/outdoor-recreation/bicycling