Traveling Southern New Mexico – Rocket Ships, Caverns, and White Sands
Traveling Southern New Mexico
As we made our way rather quickly from San Antonio, Texas to Tucson, Arizona. We decided to check out a few landmarks on our way. If you are planning on doing the same trek on 1-10 West through southern New Mexico, we strongly recommend stopping at Carlsbad Caverns and the White Sands of New Mexico which are both National Treasures.
Campground(s) we stayed
There are tons of places to boondock or dry camp in southern New Mexico. If you have time research some BLM lands that allow dry camping. Since we had to work during the week we ended up making a quick stop at Carlsbad Caverns on a Saturday. Carlsbad Caverns allows day RV parking while you explore the Caverns. We then continued our drive to White Sands, NM were we stayed at Edington RV Park. We stayed here for a week while we worked and visited White Sands National Monument.
Edington Garden RV Park is in the town of Alamogordo, New Mexico, about 25 minutes from White Sands National Monument. We found this park through our Passport America membership. If you’ve never heard of Passport America (PA) this membership offers 50% off camping, but make sure to check each campgrounds “PA” rules as they tend to have restrictions on when the discounts can apply. The Edington Garden RV Park was big rig friendly, clean and offers full or partial hook ups. In all it was a good price, on our route and close to the White Sands National Monument which was what we wanted.
Things to do
Carlsbad Cavern’s– is located in the Chinuahuan Desert of the Guadalupe Mountains in the town of Carlsbad, New Mexico. We drove our RV to the Visitor Center which was up Carlsbad Cavern Highway (a windy, slow climb road). As I mentioned above they allow RV parking at the Visitor Center, so we were able to park the RV and explore the caverns for the day. Make sure to get there early, especially if you have a big rig, the lot filled up quick and we were lucky to get a spot.
The hike down into the caverns was unlike anything I’ve seen. As a first time cavern visitor I couldn’t believe something like this actually exists. We walked around and admired rock formations that were created over millions of years by drops of water. From the Natural Entrance we hiked 750 feet down to the Big Room. We also walked around to the farthest part of the carven to stare down into the Bottomless Pit. It was amazing to see the formations and how different they are – each unique in their own way.
Years of the earth changing, erosion, and exposition to different gases and water, created this underground wonder. It is also home to some dessert animals, one being the Mexican Free-tailed Bat. While we didn’t get to see one, you are reminded of their presences by a rather strong smell when entering the cave. It was an experience I will not forgot and it was a good workout! During our visit the elevator was out of order so we had to hiked both down and back up this rather steep cavern. Check out the video above as we explored the caverns and timed our hike back to the top. Guess how long it took us? Better watch the video to find out! A reminder to check their website for additional information about the caverns and alerts that may effect your visit.
White Sands National Monument – is located at that northern point of the Chihuahuan Desert in the Tularosa Basin (a mountain ringed valley). In the center of this basin is 275 square miles of white sand desert made of gypsum. When we heard about these massive dunes of only white sand we wanted to check it out. The entrance of the National Monument is off Rt. 70 about 15-miles from Alamogrodo, NM. Our visit was late in the day in early March and it was absolutely amazing. The further you drive into the park all you see are huge white sand dunes. There are a few picnic areas located along Dunes Drive and there are hike tours available. We didn’t take a tour but the sun set tour sounded fun, if we had more time we would have probably done that one. We suggest asking the visitor center upon arrival and they will be able to give you information about what is available during your visit.
One of the “coolest” things about the White Sands are that the sands never get hot. Unlike usual beach sand that gets hot to the touch since the sun is beating on it all day. This white sand made of gypsum never gets hot, so sitting and playing in the sand is unlike any experience we both had. We took some fun pictures and enjoyed the sunset over the dunes. ALSO make sure to check the White Sands Missile Range scheduled, the White Sands Missile Range surrounds the monument and the park is closed during testing. Check out the link above for more information about White Sands National Monument along with alerts about the area.
New Mexico Museum of Space History – is located in the city of Alamogordo, NM which is in the Tularosa Basin. The Tularosa Basin is said to be the “birthplace of modern rocketry” and the Museum has several exhibits that show and educate you on man’s “race to space.” We enjoyed taking pictures with the old rocket ships in front of the museum along with watching a 40-minute show in the IMAX Dome Theater on stars. While we wouldn’t recommend making a special trip just to see this museum it was a fun place to explore while in the area.
Blakes’s Lotaburger – We grabbed lunch here before heading to the Space History Museum and White Sands. It’s a cute little building on N White Sands Blvd. We each had a LOTA Burger and shared a bag of fries. We sat outside and enjoyed the sun with our burgers. They were good and hit the spot for a quick lunch.
Caliche’s Frozen Custard – I love my ice cream so when I saw that an ice cream, or custard shop in this case, was #1 on Trip Advisor in Alamogordo we had to make this stop. I ordered the Mount Brownie Sundae, salted with no marshmallows, and OMG did it hit the spot. Good thing we are only staying here for a few days because I would have become a frequent visitor here.
Although our trip through Southern New Mexico was quick, our stops at Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands National Monument were fun and memorable. We would definitely recommend making these locations stops in your journey west …and most importantly don’t forget to stop at Caliche’s for a Frozen Custard – that Brownie Sundae was amazing! Wish I could have one right now!