After we spent three months in Deming, we drove east towards Las Cruces and ended up staying at a campground a few miles north of there, near the White Sands National Monument. A very long, winding road led us to our site tucked up against the Organ Mountains.
We were very glad to have a break from the prairie, desert-y, landscape of most of New Mexico, and be in the mountains. Everything was covered with forest and spelled of pine. We were so excited to be in different terrain that we went on a long hike as soon as we arrived the first day. On another day, we hiked to the top of one of the nearby mountain saddles where it was extremely windy. We could hardly keep our balance and it was a little difficult to breath, due to the wind. Nonetheless, we hung out up there for at least 15 minutes because it is not every day that you experience a very windy situation. Hiking is a big hobby of ours, so we went on quite a few hikes in the mountains as well as walked around the campground at least once a day.
The campground that we were staying at did not have hook-ups, however, they had bathrooms and there were picnic tables at each spot. Our spot was pretty great because the only thing behind us were rocks overlooking a little valley where a stream had dried up. It felt like having a big ‘ole back yard. During our breaks from work, we would sit out on top of the rocks in our “yard” and look at the White Sands Missile Range through our binoculars and spotting scope.
One of the main reasons that we decided to stay at this campground was because it was about twenty-ish minutes from White Sands National Monument. We only spent one day visiting the dunes, but that was all we needed. In the past, we had visited the Colorado Sand Dunes, and although they are not white, they are much, much bigger than White Sands. Because we had been spoiled by CO’s awesome dunes, we were not very impressed with NM’s. The biggest dune we found was about one third the height of many of CO’s. Also, the sleds that we rented were made for the snow, so they did not work very well – unlike the sleds in CO, that are wooden and terribly fast. Despite all this, if you are ever in the area, you should visit them because they are pretty neat looking. They would be especially interesting at night since they are so white and would reflect the moonlight. Their name is very appropriate and we were very glad that we remembered our sunglasses.
Although the dunes were a little disappointing, we really enjoyed visiting the White Sands Missile Range, located at a military base in that area. We took time to visit both the museum and the missile park, which were full of America’s missile and space history. One area of the range is devoted just to rockets. In this same area was a mold of “Fat Man,” one of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in WWII. Hunter loves WWII history and I love American history in general, so you can only imagine the heyday we had there.
With two weeks at this wonderful spot coming to an end, we still had an itch to travel more and see new things, so we headed a little further southeast toward Carlsbad. Part III of our time in New Mexico is coming up!