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Explore, Experience and Discover Las Cruces, N.M.

April 3, 2014 Destination North America No Comments Email Email

The second largest city in New Mexico, Las Cruces – or “The City of the Crosses,” as it is often referred to – is known for its college-town atmosphere and being one of the best cities to retire in, but there is much more to this city than just these two accolades.

Located an easy one-hour drive north of El Paso, Las Cruces is the crossroads of outdoor adventure and cultural experiences in southern New Mexico, boasting more than 325 days of sunshine each year. 

The Great Outdoors

About one hour northeast of Las Cruces is White Sands National Monument(www.nps.gov/whsa/index/htm), the world’s 162958_num691364_600x600largest gypsum dunefield. This natural wonder covers more than 275 square miles and offers visitors an array of activities. Among the most popular is sledding down the sandy dunes on saucers available at the park gift shop. Other activities include family-friendly hikes, picnics, sunset strolls and ranger-led tours where kids can learn about the unique animals that call this habitat home.

Overlooking the east side of Las Cruces are the Organ Mountains(www.organmountains.org). These provide a haven for adventure seekers in their two main recreational areas, Aguirre Springs and Dripping Springs. On the east side, visitors can camp in Aguirre Springs, while Dripping Springs on the west side is the perfect place to view wildlife. This area is made up of easy hiking trails and great picnic areas.

Four miles northwest of Las Cruces, the Robledo Mountains SST Trail offers rocky and steep climbs ideal for trailblazers looking for a challenge. The SST Trail is the only mountain bike trail in the mountains that is open for non-motorized use.

Five miles north of Las Cruces are the Dona Ana Mountains, offering 15 miles of mountain biking trails and 7 miles of horseback trails. The southern trails are recommended for beginners, while the shorter northern trails are more recommended for experienced hikers.

Not far from Las Cruces, visitors can still enjoy its sunny skies while visiting other parks and monuments like Rockhound State ParkGila National Forest andElephant Butte Lake State Park. 

Culinary Pursuits

The Las Cruces Farmers & Crafts Market (www.fcmlc.org) is one of the largest farmers markets in the nation and a major attraction in the area. Open every Wednesday and Saturday year-round, the downtown market offers visitors the opportunity to shop for locally grown produce and unique arts and crafts, sample regional foods and enjoy live entertainment.

Las Cruces is also home to the Chile Pepper Institute(www.chilepepperinstitute.org), the world’s only international, nonprofit organization dedicated to the research of chile peppers, housed at New Mexico State University. Visitors can tour the Learning Garden or take a chile-tasting class, offered several times a year. 

Las Cruces Golf

Las Cruces may not be the first place that comes to mind when planning a golf trip, but the city’s affordable courses with beautiful views are sure to change anyone’s mind. At almost 4,000 feet above sea level, golf balls travel further, sometimes bringing into play unexpected obstacles that can require some creative shot making. Local courses offer breathtaking vistas and desert characteristics, making for an unexpected golf experience.

New Mexico State University Golf Course (www.nmsugolf.com) is the longest golf course in Las Cruces, measuring more than 7,000 yards from the “Aggie Tees.” Surrounded by the Organ Mountains, the course provides both beautiful views and challenging courses.

Sonoma Ranch Golf Course (www.sonomaranchgolf.com) is one of the most luxurious public golf courses in southern New Mexico. The 18-hole, par-72 layout challenges golfers to test their accuracy and improve their game. The Organ Mountains and Mesilla Valley serve as a picturesque background.

The newest addition to Las Cruces’ golfing community is Red Hawk Golf Course (www.golflascruces.com). This 18-hole course designed by Ken Dye is a link-style course with a challenging yet spacious design. It is located on the city’s east mesa. Course amenities include a golf shop and lounge, snack bar, on-site catering and soon, a full-service restaurant. Golf Digest named Red Hawk one of the Top Ten Golf Courses in New Mexico for 2013. 

The Town of Mesilla

Located a few minutes south of downtown Las Cruces is one of the most historic towns in the Southwest: La Mesilla (www.mesillanm.gov). Although Mesilla was not part of the United States until the mid-1850s, the sleepy border town played an important role in western expansion as one of the only places travelers could stop, rest and get supplies on their way across the Southwest.

The town continued to grow until the 1880s, when the Santa Fe Railroad selected Las Cruces as the location for its newest route. The building of the railroad brought Las Cruces and Mesilla many gunfights like those synonymous to the Wild West. The town attracted notorious criminals like Nicolas Provencio and the infamous Billy the Kid, who were often seen around Mesilla Plaza. It is believed that Billy the Kid was tried and convicted for murder in a Mesilla courtroom.

Today, Mesilla is not the same Wild West town that is many times depicted on television, but it still maintains that charm. On weekends, the plaza is filled with residents and visitors strolling shops, art galleries and restaurants. The area hosts many fiestas and events throughout the year, and during the holiday season, it is aglow with luminarias and carolers. Points of interest are the adobe-built San Albino Church and the Gadsden Museum, which houses much of the town’s rich history. 

Space Race

One of the most anticipated travel destinations in 2014 is outer space, andSpaceport America (www.spaceportamerica.com), located approximately 55 miles northwest of Las Cruces, is at the center of it all. Although the facility will not officially open until the fall, public tours are currently available from Truth or Consequences and Elephant Butte. The three-hour bus tour travels a scenic, rugged route, giving a full history of the Spaceport and why New Mexico was the ideal location for it. 

Family Fun

The Las Cruces Convention and Visitors Bureau (www.lascrucescvb.org) makes family visits more memorable with its Las Cruces Explorers Kids Club. For every travel package booked on the CVB website, kids can receive an Explorers Club kit that includes a 12-megapixel digital camera, Explorers Club hat, sunscreen, lip balm, tote bag and special offers at participating hotels, restaurants and attractions.

One popular stop for families is the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum (www.nmfarmandranchmuseum.org), a 47-acre interactive museum of the state’s 3,000-year history of farming, ranching and rural living. Visitors can watch a cow being milked, interact with livestock and view blacksmithing and other demonstrations. At another Explorers Club destination, Corralitos Ranch(www.corralitostrailrides.com), kids can explore arroyos and caves, search for Native artifacts, and learn how to ride and guide a horse. Information on these and other Explorers Club deals can be found at www.lascrucescvb.org.

For additional media information or high-resolution photography of Las Cruces, contact Brooke Traister at brooke@tuckerpr.com or 214-252-0900. Information is also available on the Las Cruces Convention & Visitors Bureau website,www.lascrucescvb.org.

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