A Road Trip through Southern New Mexico
Check out the eclectic Recycled Roadrunner statue
Just west of Las Cruces off of I-10 (near milepost 134) lies an interesting art attraction at an ordinary roadstop: a 20 foot tall, 40 foot long roadrunner that has been constructed completely out of junk. This really is quite a random sight and although it is easily visible from the highway, it is worth stopping for to get a more detailed upclose look. Upon closer inspection that a diverse range of materials were used in completing this oddball sculpture. Plus, the views of the mountains are pretty great!
Roadrunner statue address: I-10 rest area just west of Las Cruces near mile marker 134
Worthwhile day trips from Las Cruces
If you are willing to drive again after finally arriving at your destination (which is a bit of a hassle I admit), there are some interesting places to explore within a few hours of Las Cruces. You might as well take the opportunity to see these unique places while you are within driving range. Who knows if you will ever be back in the region again! Here are a few of my top picks within 3 hours.
Alamogordo, a small community bordered by the Chihuahuan Desert, is a little over an hour north of Las Cruces. Interestingly, the city was the site of the first atomic bomb test and also the site where over 800 Atari games were buried in the desert back in 1983. These games where eventually dug up in 2015 and sold for over $107,000!
Algamordo is conveniently located nearby the White Sands National Monument (the big must visit in Southern New Mexico), and although not worthy of the hour drive in and of itself, is a good stop for anyone visiting White Sands as it is just an extra 10 minutes away. Although really tiny, the Alameda Park Zoo is worthy of a visit as it is the oldest zoo in the Southwest. For just 2 bucks, you can get out of the car and stretch a bit and enjoy seeing a surprisingly diverse selection of animals for such a small space. Staff is nice and the zoo is well maintained.
Another offbeat site of interest is Pistachioland, a quirky little roadside attraction where you can see the world’s largest pistachio (30ft tall), tour a pistachio farm, and sample all sorts of weird pistachios flavors and even treat yourself to some pistachio ice cream on a hot day! You can also shop for all sorts of homemade gourmet goods, sample local wines, and even try some homemade fudge – basically you can do about anything here! If you love stopping at weird roadside attractions to break up your drive, this one will surely please. Really, it is just a nice little break to get out of the car for a bit before continuing on to Cloudcroft or heading back on the highway for the long boring drive to Las Cruces.
Distance from Las Cruces: 1 hr, 15 min
Alameda Park Zoo address: 1321 N White Sands Blvd, Alamogordo, NM 88310
Pistachioland address: 7320 Hwy 54 70, Alamogordo, NM 88310
Cloudcroft is a tiny little town located within the beautiful Lincoln National Forest. Contrary to the surrounding desert landscapes, Cloudcroft (thanks to its super high elevation of 8600 ft – it is one of the highest located cities in the US) is loaded with gorgeous pine trees. The cooler summer temperatures at this high of an altitude make it a popular summer destination with local New Mexico residents. Also, it is home to the southernmost ski resort, so it’s popular come wintertime with both New Mexico and Texas locals. While nearby towns typically see temps well above 90 on a constant basis come summer, Cloudcroft sits at a comfortable 70 degrees on average.
Cloudcroft is a great choice for cooling down after exploring White Sands in the summer (where temps easily reach the 90’s early on in the morning hours). The extremely picturesque drive up US 82 is enough to warrant a visit. There are numerous scenic overlooks and lots of trails to enjoy. In Cloudcroft, you will find a number of local restaurants, more trails (check out the Trestle Recreation area featuring a variety of trails from a 1/2 mile to 8+ miles). A few pics below of the scenic drive!