New Mexico

We arrived in Alamogordo, New Mexico, ten days ago having driven through the Lincoln National Forest and over the Sacremento Mountains which rise to over 9000ft. We stopped for a break at the beautiful and historical mountain village of Cloudcroft, to admire the view over the valley 6000ft below. In the hazy distance, on the further side of the valley, we could see what we thought was either snow or low cloud (seen in the picture above). For the next 18 miles we drove a very steep and winding descent which carried us quickly down to the valley floor and into Alamogordo.

The valley floor or Tularosa Basin shares its topography with the stunning White Sands Desert Monument, the Holloman Airforce Base and the nearby White Sands Missile Range. With spectacular mountains on three sides, you can imagine what a stunning area of New Mexico we had found.

The snow or low cloud we had seen from the top of the mountains was in fact desert dunes which are made up of nearly 300 square miles of finely ground gypsum. As The White Sands National Monument, it has been developed as a tourist facility and boasts a magnificent Visitor Centre, board walks up onto the dunes and a paved road which carries visitors around 17 miles throughout the dunes. Picnic spots and rest areas abound and the Ranger led tours really open up the knowledge base for its visitors. For me a photography jaunt just before dusk resulted in some amazing pictures which I have included in a short slide show below.

Other attractions in the area include the New Mexico Museum of Space History (more photographs) an IMAX theatre showing a brilliant story about the Hubble Space telescope and, a Planetarium. There is also a National Solar Observatory just south of Cloudcroft and, at the north end of White Sands Missile Range is the ground zero site of the very first atomic bomb detonation which, on July 16th 1945 ushered in the atomic age.

Outside the Space History Museum is a Space Park and Astronaut memorial Garden dedicated to the seven astronauts who perished in the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster in 1986. Such is the quality of this facility that 28 countries participated by providing artifacts and exhibits of man’s conquest of space.

From all of the above it is no wonder that our pre-planned 1 night stop for Heather and I in Alamogordo quickly became a two week long visit to this fascinating area. Who would imagine that this area was the stamping ground of such well known figures from our history books as Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett and indian legend Geronimo.

And t0 extend that last fact, we broke camp (again) and headed 65 miles south west for Las Cruces where the New Mexico Heritage Museum is holding  two ‘cowboy’ days – can’t wait!!! That trip took us over the strange looking Organ Mountain range and down the longest dead straight downhill run we have experienced – it must have been around 10 miles long…..In my billy-karting days as a 10 year old kid….well, I can only dream ha ha!

Below is a short slide show of our sunset visit to White Sands Desert (mentioned above)

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mouse
    Mar 12, 2011 @ 06:10:40

    Wow! I didn’t know you could ride sleds down sand! 🙂


  2. shekinahvanuatu
    Mar 13, 2011 @ 04:10:00

    Mouse is commenting on the slide picture above of two adults and their youngster climbing up the dune (HARD work). This is an activity learned very quickly if you live in a sandy? environment. Australia, our home, is one such place and those ‘sleds’ work well on the sea shore where one skims them across the breaking waves and then jumps on them….crazy Aussies???


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