We chose Western Skys RV Park (Passport America $20/night) because it was the halfway point between El Paso, Texas and Las Cruces, New Mexico and convenient to all the places that we had marked to see. We were still in the Chihuahua Desert area. Beautiful days with warm temperatures, no humidity and no rain. Nice!
El Paso had a great museum of art and we enjoyed much of the city. The only issue we had in El Paso was that the western side of the city had many road closures due to road construction and that hampered our travels on that side of town. We visited the Museum, Mission Trail, San Elizario Historic District, and the Tigua Indian Reservation Pueblo.
Las Cruces, NM was less crowded and had a unique arts area right on Main St. We visited the Museums of Art, Natural Sciences and the Branigan. All nearby with easy access. We also enjoyed White Sands National Monument, Old Mesilla Village, and the Basilica of San Albino. There was so much history to absorb from this area. It can fill your brain and your senses.
Let’s start with White Sands National Monument! Admission to the park is $20/vehicle; $10/person or you can use a National Park Pass. I highly recommend getting the National Park Pass. Seniors can buy a lifetime pass for $80. It’s worth getting this pass, 4 parks and it pays for itself.
White Sands National Monument is in the Chihuahua Desert, Tularosa Basin and is 275 square miles of white gypsum dunes. It is stunning and we are allowed to climb the dunes and even sled down them. Sunsets over the dunes are nothing short of spectacular.
The El Paso Museum of Art has free admission and has some very interesting exhibitions. It is in the historic area of town with safe walking and interesting sights. I especially liked the Julie Speed exhibit.
Next up, San Elizario Historic District, which has roots as far back as 1598, was a Spanish Fort, Presidio San Elizario in 1789, and where the Salt War was fought between the town and Texas Rangers in 1877. The Rangers surrendered. Great little place to visit and the people were welcoming and fun. Note: The Old County Jail is the only jail that Billy the Kid broke in to. He sprung his old friend Melquiades Segura!
We visited the Socorro Mission and actually participated in the “Mass for the Infirm.” It was a Spanish Mass and the Priest invited us to lunch after. Experiences. Have them. Grow.
El Paso Museum of Archaeology.
Tigua Indian Reservation Pueblo. We met Arthur, a member of the council, who was very informative and spoke to us at length about his people and their belief system. The center has many artifacts and shops. Very educational and I highly recommend stopping by. https://www.ysletadelsurpueblo.org/
Old Mesilla Village (Little Tableland) on the Rio Grande was started in 1848. It is home to the Basilica of San Albino and many artisan shops that have set up in the historic buildings. Most residents are direct descendants of the early settlers. Billy the Kid went on trial here and was sentenced to death. Mesilla is a colorful place and worth a look.
Las Crusces Museum of Art, Museum of Natural Sciences and Branigan Museum. All are adjacent to each other in historic downtown. Nice visit. Lovely folks.
The following is a remote trail that we took after visiting the Museum of Natural Sciences. This area is rich in fossils. Gerry McDonald is responsible for major finds in the 1980s and is still finding fossils in this area. He is an Amateur Paleontologist who discovered the “worlds richest repository” of pre-dinosaur fossils and fossil tracks, dating back 280 million years. We enjoyed the trek out and a 4 wheel drive is a must. It was a little scary out there and we were not fortunate enough to find any fossils. We did find beauty and quiet, however.
We had a great few days here. Many capers and looking forward to our next adventure in Silver City, NM. More later!