Our trip to the Grand Canyon by way of Utah is planned. We have an itinerary for days 1 – 14 and we follow it pretty closely. As far as the return trip goes, all we know is that Steve doesn’t like to travel the same route twice.
S (studying the Atlas): So how far is Las Cruces, New Mexico?
M (opening Google Maps): It’s 514 miles. It’ll be a long day, but we can do it. What’s there?
S: There’s some BLM land and White Sands National Monument.
M: Sounds good.
And, that’s how we end up in Las Cruces.
April 25 – Day 16: We visit the Visitor Center in Dripping Springs Natural Area, thinking we’ll take a nice hike up to Dripping Springs but the volunteer working there reminds us that we are in a dessert and there’s not much dripping going on up there. She suggests a ride through the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument and WOW! The off-road ride through Grand Staircase was awesome. The Grand Canyon? Well, duh. It’s one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. But the scenery in the Organ Mountains hands down took my breath away. The Organs, which rise to over 900 feet above the Chihuahuan Desert, are so named because their peaks resemble the pipes of an organ. Cal and Trixie love their off-leash time. Can you blame them?
April 26 – Day 17: We spend the morning driving Dunes Drive, an eight-mile scenic drive in White Sands National Monument. I won’t bore you with the science behind these white gypsum sand dunes. I will tell you that they are huge. They are easier to walk on than beach sand. They don’t get hot like beach sand so you can walk barefoot without burning your feet. And…you can sled down them! We pass on the sledding. Instead, we just wander and marvel.
That afternoon, we go to Mesilla, a small, historic town just west of Las Cruces. Art galleries and “boutiquey” shops line the plaza. Cute and quaint, but not really our thing. We are there to eat at La Posta de Mesilla, named one of the 10 great Mexican restaurants in America by USA Today. They are right. It is yummy!
Thanks, Las Cruces, we had a blast! Now, it’s on to San Antonio!