Things To Do
Located about 45 minutes from El Paso, just over the Organ Mountains near Las Cruces, New Mexico, this park features streams that run year-round and shade trees located along hiking trails. Camping and picnic sites are available. Unlike most of the time-worn mountains in the area, the Organ Mountains are jagged and steep. They present a forbidding countenance to hikers. Over the years, many climbers have suffered severe injury while attempting to conquer this formidable landmark. Fortunately, the mountains also have easy trails for the casual hiker.
Big Bend is home to a few remarkable communities: Marathon, Study Butte, Terlingua Ghost Town, Lajitas, and Big Bend National Park. We highly recommend setting some time aside to visit these unique communities as they each possess their own unique charm and distinct experience. Accommodations range from convenient and comfortable to resort luxury. Guided outdoor activities such as hiking, jeep tours, horseback riding, river tours and more can be arranged via one of the local experienced outfitters. Big Bend is a diverse region with endless possibilities for adventure and discovery. Make sure to download the Big Bend Mobile App-an audio tour guide right in your hands!
Carlsbad Caverns National Park was established on October 25, 1923 in order to preserve the more than 100 known caves. The Park also contains Lechuguilla Cave, which is the nation’s deepest limestone cave at 1,567 feet (478m) and fourth longest. Carlsbad Cavern, with one of the world’s largest underground chambers and countless formations. It is also highly accessible, with a variety of tours offered year-round. The evening flight of Mexican free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis mexicana) from the entrance of Carlsbad Cavern is one of the park’s principal visitor attractions. Free-tailed bats are a colonial species that feed entirely on insects. The colony at Carlsbad is comprised primarily of females who give birth to their young from June through July before migrating south in October to winter in Mexico.
Chihenne (pronounced chi-hay-nee) Ranch is located in the beautiful foothills of the Black Range near the Gila National Forest. Elevations on the ranch range from 6500 feet at the ranch house to over 8500 feet at the tops of the mountains. A working cattle and horse ranch of over 12 1/2 square miles, the ranch offers an opportunity for every-day visitors to experience life on a working cattle ranch. Visitors can enjoy horseback riding, Indian site visits, excellent hiking, gold and silver mine visits, cattle roundups, cattle branding, 4-wheel off road trips, unsurpassed panoramic scenery, visits to ghost towns and much more. The ranch also hosts camps for Boy Scouts and Youth groups.
The closest mountain retreat from El Paso, Cloudcroft is a quiet village with a population of just 750. Surrounded by the Lincoln National Forest and situated at 9,000 feet above sea level, the town has a wealth of recreational alternatives. Hiking, mountain biking, fishing, horseback riding, plus snow tubing and alpine and cross-country skiing are all available. The center of town has an old west look with shops, restaurants and even a saloon.
The largest and most popular lake in New Mexico, Elephant Butte Lake provides a setting for every imaginable water sport. The visitor center offers regional interpretive exhibits. The mild climate of the area makes this park a popular year-round destination. Elephant Butte Lake State Park headquarters are five miles north of Truth or Consequences via I-25 exit 83
This attraction is located two and a half hours northeast of El Paso, off I-25. Covering 3.3 million acres, this area is the largest national forest in New Mexico and contains hundreds of miles of streams, some 20 campgrounds, and more than 1,500 hiking trails.
Located 110 miles east of El Paso, 65 miles north of Van Horn, and 55 miles south of Carlsbad, NM, Guadalupe Mountains National Park has been described as one of America’s best kept secrets. Created on September 30, 1972, Guadalupe Mountains National Park preserves one of the best examples of Permian-era (260 to 270 million years ago) geology in the world. Formed from a reef in the ancient Delaware Sea, long since dry, the Guadalupe Mountains are one of the exposed sections of the 400 mile long, horseshoe-shaped Capitán Reef, the world’s largest exposed fossil reef. The park boasts 46,850 acres of designated-wilderness, the largest wilderness area in Texas, with another 35,484 acres of backcountry that are eligible for wilderness study, and more than 80 miles of trails, about 60% of which are designated for horseback riding. However, you must bring your own stock, as there are no rentals available in the park. Trails range from easy to strenuous, and wind through desert, riparian, wooded and forested areas. Climb to the “Top of Texas,” 8,749 foot Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas or explore the Salt Basin Dunes (the park’s lowest point at 3,689’), which contains the second largest gypsum dune field in the US, on the west side of the park, near Dell City. The park has 7 of the 10 highest peaks in Texas. Trails can be steep, rocky and rugged, so wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes or hiking boots.
For thousands of years, people have trekked to these rock hills in far west Texas. In earlier times, they came for the rainwater pooled in natural rock basins. Visitors today marvel at the imagery left by those ancient people. At Hueco Tanks, visitors can hike, rock climb, bird watch, study nature and history, picnic and stargaze. Also available are guided and self-guided tours to view rock imagery. Stop by the interpretive center, in a historic ranch house, to learn about the park and its history. Hueco Tanks is mainly a day-use park. However, they do have 20 campsites.
Only 45 minutes away from El Paso, this historic community has a distinct New Mexico feel through the surrounding fields of cotton, chile, pecan tree groves, and vineyards. Once a stop on the old Butterfield Trail and home to Billy the Kid and other notorious characters, it is now host to eateries and shopping featuring a blend of Native American, New Mexican and Spanish influences.
From Las Cruces, take I-25 to US 70, head east up the mountains towards Alamogordo. After passing through San Augustin Pass, drive approximately 3/4 of a mile, watching for signs announcing Aguirre Springs to the right. Turn right and follow the road to the fee area, approximately 6 miles. From El Paso, it takes about an hour to travel there. Fee: $3 per vehicle. Parking is just beyond the fee station across the road from the trailhead of the Pine Tree Trail. This is a loop trail and can be hiked in either direction. The trail crosses two creeks several times. To the northwest hikers get views of the San Andres Mountains, to the northeast, White Sands and Sierra Blanca and east into the Tularosa Basin and Sacramento Mountains.
Located 7,000 feet above sea level, in the cool pines, is the village of Ruidoso, New Mexico. A vacation hideaway for nearly 100 years, Ruidoso sports a horse racing track that houses the Billy the Kid Casino and features live horse racing from late May through Labor Day weekend, the fabulous Hubbard Museum of the American West, Casino Apache, The Inn of the Mountain Gods, and numerous golf courses along with great dining and shopping. Just outside town lies Ski Apache. Run by the Mescalero Tribe of Apaches, Ski Apache boasts great skiing from November through March on the north face of the 12,003’ peak of Sierra Blanca. The surrounding Lincoln National Forest is perfect for hiking, mountain biking, camping, hunting and fishing. The nearby town of Lincoln was one of Billy the Kid’s favorite haunts. Call 505-336-4356 for Ski Apache and 877-RUIDOSO for Ruidoso visitors info.
Silver City is remarkably rich and diverse when it comes to hiking, climbing, camping, riding and backpacking. With its magnificent vistas, varied terrain and ample resources, Silver City is the perfect weekend getaway for just about anyone.
At the northern end of the Chihuahuan Desert lies the world’s largest gypsum dune field. White Sands National Monument preserves a major portion of this gypsum dune field, along with the plants and animals that have successfully adapted to this constantly changing environment.