Nearby “Let the four winds blow, let ‘um blow, let’um blow” (Fats Domino)
In Las Cruces no matter which way the breezes are a-blowin’ there are many intriguing places to visit within a 50-mile radius. We can’t cover them all in this space but here are some of the best-known areas for visiting.
Breeze Blowin’ East?
Just past the village of Organ, you can visit NASA/White Sands Test Facility, described as “a U.S. government rocket engine test facility and a resource for testing and evaluating potentially hazardous materials, space flight components, and rocket propulsion systems.”
Just a few more miles and Highway 70 passes through one of the most beautiful areas in the Southwest, the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. There are many trails available for hiking as you pass through this stunning area. This mountain range is visible from east-facing units in The Casitas and patio mornings are a great way to watch the sunrise.
Found at the base of the Organ Mountains amongst the Eastern foothills, you will come to the White Sands Missile Range with the White Sands Missile Range Museum available to visitors.
After another 34 miles East, you will come to the world famous White Sands National Monument. “It’s known for its dramatic landscape of rare white gypsum sand dunes. Trails through the dunes include the raised Interdune Boardwalk and the Dune Life Nature Trail.” Visit in September during the two-day annual hot air balloon festival. And if you do come, consider bring a sled for some sand sledding, much like snow sledding but a lot warmer.
So far you are only 40 miles out of town!
At our 50 mile limit, you come to the town of Alamogordo and its world renown New Mexico Museum of Space History and its International Space Hall of Fame. This fascinating museum can take hours to tour so we recomend visiting this museum several times.
This one isn’t off Highway 70 but it is related to the Organ Mountains and is just 8 miles from The Casitas. Dripping Springs Natural Area features over 4 miles of easy to moderate hiking areas, bird watching and looking for deer and other animals that roam the area, a waterfall, and a visitor center.
Also on the east side of town, only 4 miles from The Casitas Is the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Museum, which features an outstanding museum of the old West, a working ranch with cattle, sheep, and other farm animals.
Breeze Blowin’ South?
Want to go south fast? Take the I-10 to El Paso. The most popular places to visit are right downtown and next to each other. For cultural and entertainment events there is the El Paso Convention And Performing Art Center. The Center features the Abraham Chavez Theatre, a 2,500-seat concert hall, and The Plaza Theatre, a historic building, standing as one of the city’s most well-known landmarks, showing various Broadway productions, musical concerts, and individual performers. The Plaza Theatre is home to the El Paso Symphony Orchestra. The main floor seats 2,000. A smaller auditorium seats 200.
If it is sports you are interested in, right next door to the Convention Center is Southwest University Park, home of the AAA El Paso Chihuahuas. They play in a new baseball park that is one of the most beautiful minor league parks in the US. El Paso is also the host city of the Sun Bowl at the end of the college football season.
Want to go south slow? Drive over to Old Mesilla and take a wonderfully scenic drive south on Highway 28 through fields, dairy farms, vineyards, and pecan orchards. In places, the trees provide a canopy over the highway. You will cross the Rio Grande River. One absolute must stop is Chope’s Mexican Restaurant about 15 miles down the two-lane road. It has several State and National designations. It’s the uniqueness and history of this Bar and Restaurant (the two are separated by a parking area). To begin with, the restaurant was once a house. When you enter you never know if you are going gorge yourself in the living room, dining room or one of the bedrooms. For much of the 20th century, Chopes was the social and political gathering place of folks from El Paso to Las Cruces and beyond. During Prohibition, the establishment acquired alcohol from Juárez, Mexico, which made it even more popular with the locals. In 1949 there was a murder of a 16-year-old Las Cruces waitress that turned the political fortunes of the current state and local officials upside down. The case was never solved but to this day the rumor remains that only two people know who did it: The killer and the owner of this excellent establishment, Jose “Chopes” Benavides (who passed away in 1990).
If you have any energy left after eating at Chopes, head a few miles further south to La Viña Winery. La Viña Winery is the oldest continuously running winery in New Mexico. They are well-known for their annual Spring Festival and their Harvest Festival. Open year-round with local musicians on the weekends.
Breeze Blowin’ North?
Most traffic north is along I-25 and heads toward Albuquerque. The first stop 17 miles up the road is Fort Selden State Monument. This very popular historic stop is a great place to study early frontier and military life. Very informative visitor center. From their website: “Fort Selden was established in 1865 in an effort to bring peace to the south-central region of present-day New Mexico. Built on the banks of the Rio Grande, this adobe fort housed units of the U.S. Infantry and Cavalry.” Open Wednesdays through Sundays.
Forty miles along the highway lies the village of Hatch. It is a must stop for out-of-town visitors and a repeat stop for Las Crucians. Why? Easy! Hatch is the Chile Capital of the World. Hatch chiles are simple the bests chiles you will ever devour and are extensively advertised around the world. The Annual Hatch Chile Festival draws up to 30,000 visitors to this village of less than 2,000. In town, “dine” at Sparkys. Tripadvisor calls Sparkys’ Green Chile Cheeseburger the 2nd best burger in the world. It ranked #3 in a USA Today poll of over 15,000 burger joints. Live music whenever the musicians feel like it.
Truth or Consequences is best known for changing its original name of Hot Springs to win a contest offered by an old favorite radio show. It is famous for its hot baths, both public and private, some, located inside motel rooms. The town itself is, well, funky. Very popular with tourists. At 75 miles from Las Cruces, T or C exceeds our 50-mile radius, but is worth the extra 25 miles!
Breeze Blowin’ West?
We are going to have to throw out our 50-mile radius if we want to mention sites to the West. The first town west of Las Cruces is Deming, 60 miles or a 1-hour drive. The #1 highlight in Deming is the most excellent Deming Luna Mimbres Museum. “Housed in the historic Deming Armory (1916) and Customs House, it features a collection of Mimbres Indian painted pottery, historic period-furnished rooms in the Seaman Fields House, an antique auto collection, a restored Harvey House restaurant, a doll collection, and a geological section.” Also notable in Deming is the Train Station which houses a couple of old railway cars and other railroad memorabilia.