White Sands NM/ City of Rocks State Park, NM
Trip Start Feb 09, 2013
102Trip End Jun 30, 2013
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
White Sands National Monument - This is at the northern end of the Chihuahuan Desert where mountains circle the Tularosa Basin. This is a natural wonder of the world with dunes of gypsum sand covering 275 square miles of desert. These dunes grow, crest and are driven by winds. The plants and animals have adapted to it as the animals are almost some color of white even if they are brown in other environments. Gypsum is water soluble and normally snow in the mountains carry the rocks into rivers and then out to sea but there is no river draining from the Tularosa Basin.
There are a number of ranger guided tours especially at sunset and sunrise. On full moon nights the gates remain open until 11pm so visitors can witness the celestial light reflecting off the dunes. Where we stayed 15 miles away we were able to see the dunes lighted up by the full moon the night before and it was amazing!
White Sands Missile Range - On July 16,1945 (the year I was born) the first man-made atomic explosion sent a huge multicolored cloud surging to an altitude of 40,000 feet. What remains today is a sloping crater at Trinity Site. Since then this area has been used for rocket testing and then in the 60's this desert was used for testing the lunar module engines that the Apollo astronauts used on the moon surface. Today, it is still used for testing for the US Military, foreign nations and private industry especially for laser, radar and flight research. This is open to the public but you need a permit and ID to get in. 19 miles east of Las Cruces there is a White Sands Missile Range Museum that is highly recommended to visit but it was not open on Sunday. The history of our country missile programs and the atomic age are shown through artifacts, displays and photographs. In the outdoor park 60 rockets and missiles are displayed even a German V-2 rocket is exhibited. While we were driving along the highway overlooking the museum the rest area above had a rocket displayed.
Las Cruces - As we drove west on 70 we had to drive through the city of Las Cruces, NM. We needed to continue on interstate 10 west and there is no easy way to connect except for driving about 15 miles through the city. We were warned that traffic from Las Cruces to the Airforce Base and Missile Base up near Alamogordo could be a nightmare
I can’t say I was impressed with this town or city. There are a lot of housing developments here but still this region looks poor. We also had another border crossing stop on interstate 10 heading to Deming.
Deming -The town of Deming was our next stop before we headed north to get to our campground The City of Rocks State Park. We filled up with gas and made a Wal-Mart stop for supplies. Deming is known for the fields of chilies surrounding the town in the valley and have many of the same crops as Las Cruces except they have grapes and a couple of award winning wineries. What is really interesting here is that the Mimbres River supplies water from the north of the town for all the farming and then it goes underground or vanishes and does not reappear until it comes out as a lake in the Mexican state of Chihuahua
We were to spend one night at the City of Rocks State Park about 25 miles north of Deming and 20 miles south of Silver City known for silver and copper mining and an interesting city itself. I wanted to head north the next day and go to the Gila National Forest and stay at a campground that was a ranch with hot springs and visit the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. There are seven natural cavities in the face of a cliff 175 ft above the canyon floor. Five of these caves contain rooms from the 13th century by the people of Mogollan culture. There is self guiding tours and ranger tours every day to the dwelling over two miles in distance. We have seen cliff dwelling before but were interested in seeing these.
But ----the drive from Silver City north up route 15 for the first 18 miles is limited to those vehicles under 20 ft and everyone has told me that it is the worse road to drive in the nation
So we stayed another day but had to move to another site since our site was reserved for the second night. We hiked around the rocks with a map showing where all the Petroglyphs were in some of the rock campsites. It was really fun to try to find and spot the Petroglyphs. They differ from pictographs in that they are carved or engraved into the rock instead of simply being painted upon it. That is why many are still preserved but still fragile. Glad we stayed another night. Tomorrow we will be staying overnight as part of the Harvest Host program in a winery in Deming before we get back on interstate 10 and cross into Arizona.
Sunday, March 31 – Easter – City of Rocks State Park, Faywood, NM. This is another NM state park located about 20 miles south of Silver City. There are 45 no hookup campsites located among the rocks that were formed by a large volcanic eruption millions of years ago. These sites are unique and on the Sunday that we were there many were rented out just for the day for picnics. There are also 10 sites with water and electricity located at the southern part of the campground and only three of these can be reserved. The site we had was a very nice pull through with a covered table facing the rocks. It cost us $24 and $10 of that was a reservation fee