Things to see and do

Achenback Canyon bouldering

Easily accessible, but seldom hiked trail accessed by the road to Soledad Canyon. It is a bit more challenging than Soledad Canyon and Dripping Springs, but a beautiful, less populated option for hiking.

To get there, take University out of town, towards the mountain.  Take a right onto Soledad Canyon Road, then a left at the fire station in order to stay on Soledad.  Right onto Ladera Canyon road.  After about .6 miles, left onto an unmarked gravel road. Drive east on country road C077, then turn right onto Soledad Canyon rd. Once at the top of the hill turn right onto Ladera Canyon rd. Head down the road until you see a group of dumpsters. Turn left up the dirt road and follow it through the fence.

Aden Crater

The Potrillo Volcanic Field is a 500-square-mile Chihuahuan Desert landscape of lava flows, cinder and shield cones, immense craters, structural fracturing, low mountains, playa lakes, cacti and scrub. It is located immediately north of the Mexican border. Aden Crater, in the northern part of the field, originated with a succession of lava flows that issued from a single vent, building up a shield cone over time. Volcanic “spatter” – droplets of molten rock – erupted next, forming a rim around the crater. Molten rock flows returned, issuing from the vent to become trapped by the spatter rim as a “lake” of lava. Small explosive eruptions became Aden Crater’s dying gasp, and as the last of the lava drained away down the vent, the immediately surrounding surface collapsed, leaving a large pit within the crater.

Kilbourne Hole

Several hundred thousand years ago, in the area that would become known as the Potrillo Volcanic Field, white-hot molten rock or magma, extruded by the internal pressures of our planet, rose from depths as deep as 50 miles up through structural fractures toward the surface. It would change the face of the landscape.

Kilbourne Hole, a world-famous National Natural Landmark located in the eastern edge of the field, has long attracted scientists who want to compare the maar with similar features on other bodies in the solar system. Lunar scientists and Apollo astronauts studied Kilbourne Hole back in the 1960’s, during our manned flights to the moon. More recently, scientists have compared Kilbourne Hole with what may be maar-type volcanoes they have seen during unmanned flights to Mars.

Exploring the history of the Camino Real

In 1598, Spanish Conquistador Juan de Oñate and his followers founded the first European settlements along the upper Rio Grande. The new road from Mexico City to Santa Fe became the Camino Real. This Royal Road covered 1,500 miles and linked the New Mexico provinces to the religion, language, and architecture of the colonial capital in Mexico City. North of Las Cruces, the marshy riverbanks became impassable for caravans on the Camino Real. Travelers chose the Jornada del Muerto, or Journey of the Dead Man. This part of the trail veered away from the river valley in a ninety mile, waterless stretch. The southern terminus of this route is Fort Selden in Radium Springs, north of Las Cruces and the northern terminus is near Fort Craig, south of Socorro.

This trade route was critical to the development of the Spanish empire in New Mexico, connecting the early settlers with the resources and supplies needed to defend their newfound communities. From Mesilla through the small communities lining the Rio Grande, Doña Ana county provides the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of the conquistadors that expanded the Spanish empire into the new world.

Getting a chile fix

New Mexico’s cuisine is noteworthy in the consistent use of piquant peppers. No community is better known for their peppers than Hatch, the self-declared chile capital of the world. This small, agricultural community generates a significant portion of New Mexico’s overall green chile production, with farm stands lining the main streets. Though Hatch is the ideal place to load up on chile by the bushel or by the truckload, there are also numerous places to get a chile fix on the fly, including Sparky’s, a fun and festive diner festooned with interesting/odd/peculiar roadside décor. They are known for their green chile cheeseburger, a behemoth of a burger, generously slathered with the delicious green chile that put Hatch on the map for foodies.

Several strains of chile were developed based on a collaboration between the farmers in Hatch, like James Franzoy and the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University. Big Jim is named after James Franzoy. The Franzoy family was also instrumental in developing Lumbre, the XXX hot variety.

taste the tradition bannerThe Chile Pepper Institute is on the NMSU campus. Staff is usually available Monday – Friday if you have questions.

Chile Pepper Institute Visitors Center and Gift Shop
Gerald Thomas Hall, Room 265
945 College Ave.
(575) 646-5284

The Chile Pepper Institute Teaching Garden is open seven days a week, June to October, at 113 W. University Ave.

Fort Selden
The “Watcher” at Fort Selden

Fort Selden State Monument

15 miles north of Las Cruces on either I-25, exit 19, or Hwy 185
1280 Fort Selden Rd.
575-526-8911

Admission $3. Fort Selden was built in 1865 by the United States Army to protect the settlers of the Mesilla Valley. Itwas the original home of the Buffalo Soldiers. It was located on the southern terminus of the Jornada del Muerto. Today, part of the fort’s adobe brick walls remain along with a visitor center featuring exhibits on frontier and military life. Living history demonstrations are occasionally offered on weekends.

dona ana courthouse

Haunted Las Cruces

Amador Hotel

The Amador Hotel, built in 1866, is popular among the area’s ghost tours. Witnesses describe apparitions, shadows, malfunctioning flashlights, and scratches that appeared on a man’s arm as he was touring the upstairs. That’s where Annie is said to reside, a playful spirit who has asked ghost investigators to bring her a purple toy.

Doña Ana County Courthouse

This historic courthouse was built in 1937. The third floor on the courthouse was the jail. It is no longer used for judicial affairs and is being converted into a high end hotel. Evidently several people have died in the building. Paranormal investigators here claim to have encountered a violent entity and a shadowy apparition, and have reported hearing voices and feeling cold spots.

Double Eagle

The spirits associated with the Double Eagle were Las Cruces’ version of Romeo and Juliet. Their names were Armando and Inez. Armando was from a wealthy family. Inez worked for his parents as a maid. They fell in love, but hid their relationship from Armando’s mom, knowing she wouldn’t approve. She found out and forbid them from seeing one another, quickly setting up a marriage for Armando with someone she deemed more appropriate. When she returned to Las Cruces to tell Armando about his upcoming nuptials to a stranger, she discovered him with Inez. She flipped out, grabbed a pair of scissors and stabbed the girl.

Armando tried to protect Inez, but his mother was savage, inadvertently stabbing him in the back. Inez died in Armando’s arms. Armando died a few days later. The family quickly sold the property and moved to Mexico. Some believe that Armando and Inez continue to haunt the property, which is now the Double Eagle. They were murdered in the Carlotta room.

southwest expeditions bannerThe Fountain Theatre

The Fountain Theatre is supposedly haunted by the ghost of a frustrated actress. The Albert Fountain family built the theatre as a vaudeville house in 1905. It now serves as an independent theater, showcasing independent, art, classic and foreign films. It has rickety wooden seats, café tables and chairs and historical wall murals.

La Posta de Mesilla Restaurant

Employees talk about ghosts smashing glasses, moving chairs, opening and closing doors, throwing clocks, chilling the air, exuding sulfur smells and shoving customers. Having worked in food service, it is handy to have ghosts to blame for harassing the guests.

Mesilla Cemetery

When looking for ghosts, why not search the obvious places, right? In this case, search for the witch’s grave in the San Albino Cemetery at the end of Calle de Guadalupe. Look for the cinderblock and cement tomb decorated with a black cross that someone carved with the number 666. Legend has it this is the witch’s tomb. It is the only headstone in the cemetery that has no name inscribed on it. There is no record of who is buried there or what they may have done to warrant a fortified grave, but the tale is that her ghost is restless, looking for a crack to escape. Those who live near the cemetery repair any cracks that appear. Neighbors are not fond of visitors poking around the cemetery after hours.

Railroad Museum

This old train depot now serves as a railroad museum, and is rumoured to be haunted by at least three spirits, including two ghostly men and a woman in an old-fashioned dress. Voices have also been heard when there is no one around.

leasburg damLeasburg 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.

Old Mesilla

Mesilla is an old agricultural community across the river from Las Cruces. Some of the largest pecan orchards in the world can be found on the backroads around Mesilla. The plaza is a hub of history, with a beautiful church, San Albino, completed in 1906. Though Mesilla is on the Camino Real, the primary trade route between Mexico City and Santa Fe, and the Conquistadors instrumental to the founding of New Mexico passed to and fro, there was no settlement until the 1800s. This region is Apache territory, traversed by Victorio and Geronimo, ground zero for the Apache Wars in the late 1800s. Towns started cropping up in southern New Mexico after the forts were constructed, providing military support for settlers and miners attempting to stake claims on Apache land.

Once the Apache were captured and sent to reservations or to concentration camps in Florida, the fertile land along the Rio Grande became a critical commercial and agricultural hub, attracting a litany of legends from the American West. Billy the Kid broke out of jail in Mesilla. The hermit lived in Mesilla briefly before moving into his cave at the base of the Organ Mountains. Mesilla served as the capital of the New Mexico territory after the Mexican-American war, which encompassed the land that would become Arizona. When it comes to history, good food and a picturesque southwestern setting, it doesn’t get much better than Mesilla.

Organ Mountain – Desert Peaks National Monument

Drippings Springs | Map

$3/day. $25 reservation for group picnic site. The Dripping Springs Natural Area is located 10 miles east of Las Cruces. From Exit 1 on Interstate 25, take University Avenue/Dripping Springs Road east to the end. There are almost 5 miles of easy hiking trails, including the Dripping Springs Trail, which shows off desert scrub and low elevation pinon-juniper and oak woodlands on the way to the ruins of the Van Patten Mountain Camp and Boyd’s tuberculosis sanitarium.

Dripping Springs Trail intersects with the Crawford Trail at the ¾ mile mark. Stay on the right fork to stay on Dripping Springs Trail. At about 1.3 miles there is a fork in the trail. Take the right branch. Take a right at the next junction as well. The old Boyd Sanitarium is about 0.1 miles. When looking at the dining hall, look for the rock stairway on the left side. Follow the stairway up and left to the waterfall above the area. Return on the same path. Return to the prior junction and take a right. The remains of the Van Patten Mountain Camp is about 300 feet up the trail. After exploring the camp, continue around the loop trail to the main trail to return to the visitor’s center or to hike the other loops.

La Cueva Trail has a spur that goes to the Hermit’s cave, an Italian gentleman that took up residence for a couple of years at the end of the 1860s. It didn’t end well. He was murdered, found with a knife through his back. The La Cueva Trail has another spur that goes into a dead end canyon with a nice waterfall that creates a tiny desert oasis.

Soledad Canyon/Bar Canyon Waterfall

The trail at Soledad Canyon is every bit as beautiful as those at Dripping Spring, but this trail tends to be less populated. Soledad Canyon Loop is a 3.3-mile loop trail located a few miles outside of Las Cruces. The trail is primarily used for hiking, trail running, horses, and mountain biking, It is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

To get to the waterfall, stay to the right when the trail branches, then follow the trail counter-clockwise. Approximately 1.5 miles in there is a junction where the trail divides. You can follow the loop to the left, or continue straight ahead to the old rock house and the waterfall. At just over a half a mile there is an old rock house. Continue on the trail to the waterfall. It will head to the right, up a small hill, then left into a narrow dead-end canyon. The waterfall is all the way at the back. To finish the loop, return to the junction where the trail divided. Turn right. Follow the trail back to the parking area.

Pretty Parks | Pioneer Women’s Park, Unidad Park & Veteran’s Park

Pioneer Women’s Park was developed by early members of the Women’s Improvement Association. It was deeded to the town of Las Cruces in 1942 and covers 2.1 acres in one of the most beautiful and historical neighborhoods in Las Cruces. Unidad Park has a great playground for small childrens. Veteran’s Park on Roadrunner Parkway is home to the Doña Ana County Veteran’s Wall and the Bataan Death March Monument. The helicopter at sunset is striking.

Memorial in Las Cruces

Perusing the Pecan Orchards

New Mexico is the second largest pecan producer in the United States, second only to Georgia. The vast majority of New Mexico’s pecans are grown in Doña Ana County, relying on water from the Rio Grande to irrigate the orchards. When traveling the back roads of Mesilla, it is not unusual to drive through tunnels of pecan boughs for miles. This is particularly appealing during the fall when the leaves change color. One of the best examples is Stahmann Farms, outside of Mesilla. The Salopek orchards are the largest family owned pecan orchards in the world. Greg and Heather Salopek, brother and sister, are behind New Mexico Pecan and Legacy Pecan (respectively).

Prehistoric Trackways National Monument

Prehistoric Trackways National Monument

1800 Marquess Street
Las Cruces, NM  88005-3370
(575) 525-4300

The Prehistoric Trackways National Monument was established in 2009 to conserve, protect, and enhance the unique and nationally-important paleontological, scientific, educational, scenic, and recreational resources and values of the Robledo Mountains. The site contains one of the most scientifically-significant Early Permian track sites in the world. The Monument includes a major deposit of Paleozoic Era fossilized footprint mega-trackways over approximately 5,280 acres, including numerous amphibians, reptiles, and insects (including previously unknown species), plants, and petrified wood dating back 280 million years.

Las Cruces roadrunner

Roadrunner Overlook of I-10 going into Las Cruces

For a fantastic photo of Las Cruces and the Organ Mountains, as well as a wonderful place to watch the sunrise and sunset, the recycled roadrunner on I-10 is an excellent location. It is located at the rest stop on I-10 just east of Las Cruces. If heading there from Las Cruces, take West Picacho Avenue to I-10 and head east towards Las Cruces. The exit to the rest stop will be within a mile of the W. Picacho I-10 on-ramp.

Space Age Technology & Tours

The space age and nuclear age was born in New Mexico, with the Manhattan Project conceived in Los Alamos and the first nuclear bombs tested at Trinity Site outside of Las Cruces. White Sands Missile Range is only part of the large tract of land owned by the government as part of White Sands, which is protected airspace from ground to infinity. This protection extends across most of the Organ spires, which is one reason commercial aircraft don’t fly over the Organ Mountains. There are numerous place catering to individuals who are curious about the development and history of the space age.

White Sands Missile Range Museum

Trace the origin of America’s missile and space activity, find out how the atomic age began and learn about the accomplishments of scientists like Dr. Wernher von Braun and Dr. Clyde Tombaugh at White Sands. Displays also include the prehistoric cultures and the rip-roaring Old West found in southern New Mexico. Area map and driving directions.

Space Murals Museum

Ever wonder what the scientists and staff packed home from work while creating the world’s first atomic weapon? The Space Murals Museum may provide an answer to that. While the museum has no priceless otherworldly artifacts (it once had a pair of moon boots, but NASA took them away) it does have what is probably the world’s most varied collection of pack-rat space jetsam and memorabilia. It is hard to miss. The property is easily spotted from highway 70 heading east out of Las Cruces based on the water tank with a space history motif.

There are commemorative t-shirts from shuttle landings, hunks of spacecraft insulation, heat tiles, gloves, helmets, lots of gold thermal blankets, a fireproof suit, an Apollo souvenir beer stein, a 45 rpm record by John Glenn, teddy bears in NASA coveralls, freeze dried macaroni and cheese from the long-gone MIR space station. Autographed publicity photos of astronauts are everywhere.

New Mexico Museum of Space History

The New Mexico Museum of Space History is a museum and planetarium complex in Alamogordo, New Mexico, dedicated to artifacts and displays related to space flight and the space age. It includes the International Space Hall of Fame. The Museum of Space History highlights the role that New Mexico has had in the U. S. space program, and is one of eight museums administered by the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs.

Trinity Site Tours

Though this is a bit of a drive from Las Cruces, southeast of Socorro, it is essential to anyone interested in the birth of the atomic age. The first detonation of a nuclear bomb occurred at the Trinity site. Twice a year it is open to the public (April & October).

Water Towers

All of the water towers in Las Cruces have been adorned with beautiful, often historically significant, murals. Some are more accessible than others. Finding and taking photos of the murals can become a photographic Pokémon adventure.

Watching the sun come up at White Sands

White Sands

Hiking, year-round sledding on the dunes, primitive camping, full moon hikes, spectacular sunrises and sunsets, White Sands is a natural treasure and consistently photogenic. Unlike dunes composed of quartz-based sand, gypsum does not readily convert the sun’s energy into heat. As a result, the surface temperature of White Sands doesn’t get as hot as sand on a beach would. The dunes can be comfortably traversed barefoot most of the year. Even when the surface of the sand gets too hot, it is cool just below the surface, because the gypsum retains moisture from the playa of the Alkali Flat. Occasionally the road into the monument can close due to missile testing. Check here for the latest information.


Dining

La Nueva Casita taco plate

I asked everyone following New Mexico Nomad for suggestions. Based on thousands of responses from locals, here are their recommendations for the best dining options in and around Las Cruces.

Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments.

A Bite of Belgium (for tasty pastry)
741 N Alameda Blvd #16
Las Cruces, NM 88005
(575) 527-2483

Andele | TOP PICK
1950 Calle Del Norte #1-3
Mesilla, NM 88046
(575) 526-9631

Andele’s Dog House | TOP PICK
1983 Calle Del Norte
Las Cruces, NM 88005
(575) 526-1271

Beck’s Coffee (for caffeine)
130 N Mesquite St
Las Cruces, NM 88001
(575) 556-9850

Spotted Dog (for beer)
2920 Avenida de Mesilla
Las Cruces, NM 88005
(575) 650-2729

Borderland BBQ
3509 Blackhawk St
Las Cruces, NM 88001
(575) 635-9057

Café de Mesilla
2190 Avenida de Mesilla
Las Cruces, NM 88005
(575) 524-0000

Caliche’s
590 S Valley Dr
Las Cruces, NM 88005
(575) 647-5066

Chachis
505, Joe Gutierrez St
Las Cruces, NM 88007
(575) 652-3071

Chala’s
2790 Avenida de Mesilla
Las Cruces, NM 88005
(575) 652-4143

Chopes | TOP PICK
16145 NM-28
La Mesa, NM 88044
(575) 233-3420

Los Compas
603 S Nevarez St
Las Cruces, NM 88001
(575) 523-1778

Day’s Hamburgers
295 Main St
Las Cruces, NM 88001
(575) 523-8665

Delicias
1413 E Amador Ave
Las Cruces, NM 88001
(575) 541-0902

Double Eagle
2355 Calle De Guadalupe
Mesilla, NM 88046
(575) 523-6700

Dragonfly
139 N Downtown Mall
Las Cruces, NM 88005
(575) 353-9866

El Sombrero
363 S Espina St
Las Cruces, NM 88001
(575) 524-9911

Hacienda de Mesilla
1891 Avenida de Mesilla
Mesilla, NM 88046
(575) 652-4953

High Desert Brewing
1201 W Hadley Ave
Las Cruces, NM 88005
(575) 525-6752

Josephina’s
2261 Calle De Guadalupe
Mesilla, NM 88046
(575) 525-2620

La Nueva Casita
195 N Mesquite St
Las Cruces, NM 88001
(575) 523-5434

La Posta de Mesilla
2410 Calle De San Albino
Mesilla, NM 88046
(575) 524-3524

Milagro Coffee (for caffeine)
1733 E University Ave
Las Cruces, NM 88001
(575) 532-1042

Nellie’s | TOP PICK
1226 W Hadley Ave
Las Cruces, NM 88005
(575) 524-9982

Nopolito’s | | TOP PICK
310 S Mesquite St
Las Cruces, NM 88001
(575) 524-0003

Ranchway
604 N Valley Dr
Las Cruces, NM 88005
(575) 523-7361

Si Señor
1551 E Amador Ave
Las Cruces, NM 88001
(575) 527-0817

Sparky’s | TOP PICK
115 Franklin St
Hatch, NM 87937
(575) 267-4222

Spotted Dog Brewing (for beer)
2920 Avenida de Mesilla
Las Cruces, NM 88005
(575) 650-2729

St. Clair Winery
1720 Avenida de Mesilla
Las Cruces, NM 88005
(575) 524-2408

The Bean (for caffeine)
2011 Avenida de Mesilla
Las Cruces, NM 88005
(575) 527-5155

The Game
2605 S Espina St
Las Cruces, NM 88001
(575) 524-4263

The Shed
810 S Valley Dr
Las Cruces, NM 88005
(575) 525-2636


Wine & Beer

Amaro Winery
402 S. Melendres St.
(575) 527-5310

A locally owned family vineyard. Tasting available.

Fort Selden Winery
1233 Fort Selden Rd.
(575) 647-9585

Featuring a variety of wine produced at Fort Selden Winery.

Heart of the Desert Winery
2355 Calle de Guadalupe
(575) 647-2115

Wine from Eagle Ranch Winery including the 2009 New Mexico State Fair Wine Competition gold (Merlot), silver (Red) and bronze (Pistachio Rosé) winners.

Luna Rossa Winery
1321 Avenida de Mesilla
(575) 526-2484

Winery and wine tasting room offering award winning varieties.

La Viña Winery
4201 S. Highway 28
(25 miles south of Las Cruces)
(575) 882-7632

Open Daily (except Wednesday). Tours at 11:30 daily by appointment. La Viña is New Mexico’s oldest winery and hosts the state’s oldest wine festival every October, plus a blues & Jazz festival in April.

NM Vintage Wines, Beers + Cigars
2461 Calle de Principal
(575) 523-9463

Step inside the 1850’s era adobe building and you’ll find a cozy spot rich in history. Recently ranked the #1 Wine Bar in the state, the NM Vintage Wines, Beers + Cigars tasting room serves some of the best wines and craft beers in the state.

Rio Grande Vineyard and Winery
5321 Highway 28 at mile marker 25
(4 ½ miles past Old Mesilla)
(575) 524-3985

Wine tasting and tours of the vineyard.

Sombra Antigua Vineyard and Winery
430 La Vina Road
Anthony, NM
(915) 241-4349

Serving Montepulciano, Dolcetto, Tempranillo, red table wine and a sweet white table wine.

St. Clair Winery & Bistro
1800 Avenida de Mesilla
(575) 524-0390

St. Clair offers a variety of still and sparkling wines.

St. Clair Winery (in Deming)
1325 De Baca Rd.
Deming, NM
(575) 546-9324

Cabernet, Chardonnay, Zinfandel and other wine grapes. Tours are offered Saturdays and Sundays and no appointment is needed.


Lodging

Hotel Encanto
Hotel Encanto

Encanto
705 S. Telshor Blvd.
(575) 522-4300

Casa de Rosie
2140 Calle Del Norte
Las Cruces, NM 88005
(575) 993-1410

Hacienda de Mesilla
1803 Avenida de Mesilla
(575) 652-4953

Josefina’s Old Gate
2261 Calle de Guadalupe
(575) 525-2620

Lundeen Inn of the Arts
618 S. Alameda Blvd.
(575) 526-3326


Museums

This list covers the museums in Las Cruces and museums within about an hour, like the space museum in Alamogordo, which is totally worth the drive.

Branigan Cultural Center

501 N. Main St. on the Downtown Mall
(575) 541-2155

Free admission. The Branigan Cultural Center features in-house and traveling exhibitions, regional historical and permanent collections, and the work of local and regional artists.

Doña Ana County Historical Museum of Lawmen

845 N. Motel Blvd.
(575) 525-1911

Free admission. Artifacts include law enforcement and historical memorabilia, a gun collection, a memorial to fallen officers and Pat Garrett’s desk. Inside the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Department.

Grounds of Fort Selden

Fort Selden State Monument

1280 Fort Selden Rd.
15 miles north of Las Cruces on either I-25, exit 19, or Hwy 185
(575) 526-8911

Admission $3. Fort Selden was built in 1865 by the United States Army to protect the settlers of the Mesilla Valley and was the original home of the Buffalo Soldiers. Today, part of the fort’s adobe brick walls remain along with a visitor center featuring exhibits on frontier and military life. Living history demonstrations are occasionally offered on weekends.

Las Cruces Museum of Art

491 N. Main St. on the Downtown Mall
(575) 541-2137

Free admission. The Las Cruces Museum of Art hosts traveling exhibits and features the works of regionally and nationally known artists. The exhibits change several times a year and are often accompanied by lectures and demonstrations.

Las Cruces Railroad Museum

351 N. Mesilla St.
(575) 647-4480

Free admission. The Railroad Museum interprets the railroading history of Las Cruces and the Mesilla Valley. Housed in a historic Santa Fe Depot, displays include railroading tools, railroadiana and model trains.

Las Cruces Museum of Nature & Science

411 N. Main St.
(575) 522-3120

Free admission. The museum features live animals and plants of the Chihuahuan Desert, along with hands-on science and natural history exhibits for children. Visiting shows run the gamut from dinosaurs to the solar system.

New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum

4100 Dripping Springs Rd.
1.5 miles east of Telshor Blvd. on University Ave.
575-522-4100

Admission $1-5. This interactive, 47-acre museum is packed with real stories about real people, bringing New Mexico’s 3,000-year history of farming and ranching to life. Visitors can watch a cow being milked, stroll corrals filled with livestock, enjoy gardens or watch hands-on exhibits such as blacksmithing, quilting, water dosing and more. Living history demonstrations are occasionally offered on weekends.

New Mexico State University Arthropod Museum

Skeen Hall, room 168
Corner of Espina Dr. and College Dr.
On the campus of NMSU
(575) 646-7082

Free admission. Appointments not needed, but call ahead. A collection of approximately 140,000 arthropod specimens from the American Southwest and northern Mexico, with a special emphasis on arthropods from the state of New Mexico.

New Mexico State University Museum – Kent Hall

1280 E. University Ave.
Corner of University Ave. and Solano Dr.
(575) 646-5161

Free admission. The museum collections are primarily anthropological with secondary collections in history and the natural sciences. The collections document the cultural diversity of the border in the greater southwestern United States and northern Mexico, focusing on the traditions of ongoing historic and prehistoric cultures.

Sunrise at White Sands

White Sands Missile Range Museum and Missile Park

Located on White Sands Base
25 miles east of Las Cruces on Hwy 70
(575) 678-8824

Free admission. You must have a current driver’s license, car registration and proof of insurance to enter the base. Tell sentries you are going to visit the museum and Missile Park. The facilities focus on the origin of the U.S. missile and space programs, and the beginning of the nuclear age. The Missile Park features weapons that won the Cold War and Operation Desert Storm.

Zuhl Geological Collection at New Mexico State University

775 College Dr.
Inside the NMSU Alumni and Visitors Center
(575) 646-3616

Free admission. The Zuhl Geological Collection is one of the best-kept secrets in all of Las Cruces. The collections consists of thousands of petrified wood, minerals, fossils and geological artifacts showcased at New Mexico State University. The collection represents the lifetime legacy of Las Cruces residents Herb and Joan Zuhl, who have collected these items for more than 30 years and maintained a gallery in Manhattan before retiring to Las Cruces.

New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum


Arts

Art Galaxy
2521 Avenida de Mesilla
(575) 525-8178

A cooperative gallery featuring local and regional artists in a variety of mediums.

Bonnie Mandoe Studio/Gallery
825 Quesenberry St
(575) 523-9760

A selection of oil paintings depicting the Mesilla Valley and more.

Dee Groves Gallery
2220 Calle de Parian
(575) 527-0710

Majestic photographs by LC Groves featuring dynamic desert and Organ Mountain scenes. Also featured are watercolors and pencils by Steve Hanks.

Galeria on the Plaza
2310 Calle de Principal
(575) 526-9771

Featuring folk-art, Santos, retablos, crosses & local artists.

Jeri Desrochers Studio Gallery
3655 Canyon Ridge Arc
(575) 640-9836

Vibrant paintings of the southwest by appointment only.

Joyce T. Macrorie Studio Gallery
639 S. San Pedro St.
(575) 541-0408

Paintings, prints and jewelry by Joyce Macrorie and other local artists.

Justus Wright Galeria
925 S. Walnut Ave
(575) 526-6101

Featuring art and illustrations by Jud Wright and a variety of Southwest artists, photographers and sculptors.

Linda Lundeen Galleries
618 S. Alameda Blvd
(575) 526-3326

Fine art in all media from national and international artists.

Main Street Gallery
311 N. Downtown Mall
(575) 647-0508

Fine artworks by local and regional artists in a variety of mediums.

Mesilla Valley Fine Arts Gallery
2470A Calle de Guadalupe
(575) 522-2933

A cooperative gallery featuring local and regional artists in a variety of mediums.

Mesquite Art Gallery
340 N Mesquite St
(575) 640-3502

Photography, painting and 3D art from selected national artists.

New Mexico State University Art Gallery
Williams Hall, on the campus of New Mexico State University
(575) 646-2545

Contemporary and historical works. Featuring a permanent collection of over 2,600 objects and the world’s largest collection of Mexican retablos.

New Mexico State University Corbett Center Gallery
Inside Corbett Center on the campus of New Mexico State University
(575) 646-3200

Virginia Maria Romero Studio Gallery
4636 Maxim Court
(575) 644-0214

Paintings, retablos and prints by appointment only.


Golf

New Mexico State University Golf Course

3000 Herb Wimberly Dr.
(575) 646-3219

New Mexico State University Golf Course. is Las Cruces’ longest course, measuring more than 7,000 yards (from the blue tees). This 18-hole course takes golfers on a scenic journey of challenging greens and fairways, framed by native desert landscape.  As the only university in New Mexico and one of the few in the nation to offer the Professional Golf Management program (PGM), NMSU is also one of the most challenging public courses in the state.

Picacho Hills Country Club (private)

6861 Via Campestre in Picacho Hills,
(575) 523-8641

Picacho Hills Country Club is the only private membership course in the city and offers reciprocal agreements with other clubs. The 18-hole, par-72 layout was built in 1978 and features bent-grass tees and greens, and bluegrass fairways. The desert-style course is located on the city’s west side, minutes from downtown. The private club has practice facilities, tennis courts, a swimming pool and full-service clubhouse with restaurant.

Red Hawk Golf Course

3601 Arroyo Rd.
(575) 513-7628

Red Hawk Golf Course is an 18-hole course located on the city’s east mesa featuring rolling greens and a spacious design. It features five sets of tees with yardage ranging from 5,502 to 7,523. Hazards include five lakes (with water coming into play on eight holes) and 76 bunkers.

Sonoma Ranch Golf Course

1274 Golf Club Rd.
(575) 521-1818

Sonoma Ranch Golf Course is one of southern New Mexico’s finest public golf courses. The course was also nominated for “Best New Course” in 2000 by Golf Digest. The 18-hole, par-72 layout challenges golfers with fairways and greens that blend with the desert landscape. The stark peaks of the Organ Mountains provide a magnificent backdrop to the course.

In addition to the fine courses Las Cruces has to offer, there are several courses located only a short distance away. Dos Lagos Golf Course, Santa Teresa Country Club & Golf Course and Anthony Country Club Golf Course are all about 30 minutes south of Las Cruces. Desert Lakes Golf Course is a public course in Alamogordo, N.M., about an hour east of Las Cruces. 30 minutes east of Alamogordo is the Lodge at Cloudcroft Golf Course, open April through November.


RV Parks

Coachlight Inn
301 S. Motel Blvd.
(575) 526-3301

Hacienda RV
740 Stern Dr.
(575) 528-5800

Las Cruces KOA

814 Weinrich Rd.
(575) 526-6555

Siesta RV Park

1551 Avenida de Mesilla
(575) 523-6816

Sunny Acres RV Park

595 N. Valley Dr.
(575) 524-1716


Campgrounds

Aguirre Springs

Aguirre Spring Campground

Located on the east side of Organ Mountains, 21 miles east of Las Cruces in Dona Ana County. • Directions: Take U.S. 70 for 14 miles east of the I-25/U.S. 70 interchange in Las Cruces, then turn south on the Aguirre Spring Road (1.1 miles after San Augustine Pass) for six miles. At mile 4 the road becomes a one-way loop and climbs steeply.

From April to October, the entrance gate is open from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. From October until April, it is open from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Non-campers must be out by 10:00 p.m. year-round. (575) 525-4300

Fees: $3 per vehicle for day use and $3 per night to camp. There is a $25 reservation fee for the two group campsites.

Caballo Lake State Park

10 Palomino Rd.
Caballo, NM
(575) 743-3942

The Caballo Mountains serve as a majestic backdrop for Caballo Lake State Park. The park boasts a full array of water recreation, winter waterfowl watching, and cactus gardens in bloom. Boating, sailing, swimming, water skiing, fishing and windsurfing are some of the wet and wild activities available at the Park. Lake and river provide anglers with the opportunity to catch a variety of fish including catfish, largemouth bass, walleye, white bass, crappie, bluegill, northern pike and sunfish.

Las Cruces KOA

814 Weinrich Rd.
(575) 526-6555

Conveniently located off I-10 at exit 135. Las Cruces KOA sits on the west mesa overlooking the Organ Mountains, the city of Las Cruces and the historic Mesilla Valley. Choose from romantic view sites (pull-in or back-in) with 180 degree views, deluxe pull thru sites up to 80 feet long, sodded tent sites that provide a grass carpet under shade trees, or kamping cabins (heated or cooled for your comfort). Full hook-up sites feature free cable TV and wireless internet access. 50 AMP service is available in our view sites and deluxe pull thru sites. Onsite heated swimming pool, clean restrooms/showers and laundry facilities. Weekly and monthly rates are available. Non-aggressive pets are welcome!

leasburg dam

Leasburg State Park

Leasburg Dam State Park offers camping, picnicking and bird watching in Radium Springs. 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. (575) 524-4068

Percha Dam State Park

Set in the intimate shade of towering cottonwoods, Percha Dam State Park features camping, picnicking, fishing and bird watching on the Rio Grande. Park Place: Cottonwood and velvet ash trees shelter park visitors from the southern New Mexico sun. Visitors fish and swim to the backdrop of the Rio Grande.

Top Five: One of the five top birding sites in New Mexico, Percha Dam State Park is particularly bird-acious during spring and autumn migration seasons. (575) 743-3942


visit las cruces bannerLas Cruces Annual Events

February

Annual for the Love of Art Month | Art exhibits throughout Las Cruces and Old Mesilla Plaza. (575) 525-1955

March

Cowboy Days | The New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum honors the western legacy with a weekend festival of roping and riding demonstrations, “cowboy food,” dancing, and cowboy poetry. (575) 522-4100

Bataan Memorial Death March | The Bataan Memorial Death March is a challenging march through the high desert terrain of White Sands Missile Range to honor the heroic service members who defended the Philippine Islands during World War II.  (575) 678-1134

April

Trinity Site Tour | The Trinity site is the location of the first atomic bomb explosion on earth. White Sands Missile Range. (575) 678-1134

La Viña Spring Festival | A weekend of good music and good wine hosted by New Mexico’s oldest winery. in La Union. (575) 882-7632

Las Cruces Country Music Festival | The Las Cruces Convention and Visitors Bureau presents the Las Cruces Country Music Festival, a three-day celebration of country music featuring up and coming country music acts from Nashville and around the country. (575) 541-2444

May

Blazin’ Brew Fest | Live music, food trucks, games and home brewing demonstrations. Full pints and package beer also available.  (575)-523-RENT (7368)

Cinco de Mayo Fiesta | A traditional Mexican fiesta honoring Mexico’s second revolution. Experience traditional Mexican music, food and dancing on the historic Old Mesilla Plaza. (575) 524-3262

Las Cruces Wine Festival | Visitors can sample wine from the many New Mexico wineries as well as enjoy live entertainment and local vendors.

June

Red, White and Brew – Wine & Beer Festival | (575) 522-1232.

July

4th of July Electric Light Parade, Celebration and Fireworks | Las Cruces celebrates with a parade of floats decorated with electric lights. Experience live entertainment throughout the day plus a spectacular fireworks display at night. All events are free and open to the public.  (575) 541-2550

September

Hatch Chile Festival | The Mesilla Valley is the chile capital of the world and the annual Hatch Chile Festival is the place to experience the piquant peppers that serve as the cornerstone for New Mexican cuisine. Sample some of the finest chile, enjoy food, crafts, an auction, live music and more. (575) 267-1095, (575) 993-9393

New Mexico Wine Harvest Festival | Celebrate New Mexico’s wine harvest with grape stomping, wine tasting, and live entertainment. Festival features arts and crafts vendors, children’s activities, hourly wine seminars and a relaxed atmosphere. (575) 522-1232

Diez y Seis de Septiembre Fiesta | Join the village of Mesilla to commemorate Mexico’s independence with folklorico dances, mariachi music and authentic Mexican cuisine. (575) 524-3262

White Sands Hot Air Balloon Invitational | A collection of colorful balloons filling the air over the white gypsum dunes of White Sands National Monument. (575) 437-6120, (800) 826-0294

Southern New Mexico State Fair & Rodeo | The Southern New Mexico State Fair has something for everyone; a midway, an auction, food, music, livestock shows and a rodeo. (575) 524-8602

October

Mesilla Valley Maze | Bring the kids and those that are “kids at heart” to the rural fun of the Mesilla Valley Maze. Take a hayride out to the pumpkin patch to look for the perfect Jack-O-Lantern. (575) 526-1919

Trinity Site Tour | The Trinity site is the location of the first atomic bomb explosion on earth.   White Sands Missile Range. (575) 678-1134

Mesilla Jazz Happening | Mesilla Valley Jazz Happening will be swinging into historic Old Mesilla at the Mercado Plaza and on the Historic Plaza. The Plazas will host free live jazz music at two venues. Old Mesilla Plaza. (575) 526-2620

Frontier Days | Take a trip back in time with a visit to Fort Selden State Monument to honor the civilians and soldiers who lived at the fort and protected the residents of the Mesilla Valley after the Civil War. Among the groups honored are the Buffalo Soldiers who were among the first soldiers assigned to the Fort. (575) 526-8911

La Viña Harvest Wine Festival | This festival is the oldest wine festival in New Mexico and features food, entertainment and of course, wine produced by New Mexico’s oldest winery. La Viña Winery in La Union. (575) 882-7632.

Dia de los Muertos | Join the candlelight procession on November 2nd at 6 pm as the dead are remembered. Homemade altars on display.   (575) 524-3262 ex. 116

November

Renaissance Arts Faire | Spend a weekend with Kings and Queens at the 36th Annual Renaissance ArtsFaire. Local, state and regional artisans gather to participate in a juried art show and exhibition. (575) 523-6403

HomeGrown:  A New Mexico Food Show & Gift Market | As the holiday shopping season arrives, visitors are invited to come and purchase the best that New Mexico has to offer. The event is a partnership between the Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum and the New Mexico Department of Agriculture with more than 50 vendors from around the state. (575) 522-4100

December

Christmas Carols and Luminarias on the Plaza | The historic village of Old Mesilla is aglow with thousands of luminarias and caroling. (575) 524-3262

7 City Blocks along Main St.
Downtown Las Cruces | Plaza
SATURDAY | 8:30 am to 1 pm
WEDNESDAY | 8:30 am to 1 pm

The market is full of baked goods, fresh produce, photography, jewelry, crafts, and music.  Everything in the market is locally grown, by the growers of Doña Ana.

Maps

Las Cruces History

Las Cruces roadrunner

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