Pretty mountain views on the Dripping Springs trail in Las Cruces, New Mexico

The Organ mountains, named as so for the needle like spires that resemble organ pipes, provide a dramatic backdrop for the city of Las Cruces, NM. This small city in Southern New Mexico is a popular base location for adventure seekers. Outdoor lovers and fitness buffs seeking to explore all the exotic natural attractions throughout the southern portion of the state often come to Las Cruces as a convenient starting point. Because of the higher altitude (~6000ft), the city and surrounding mountain areas are a bit cooler than nearby Southwestern cities, thus making it a great weekend escape from cities like Tucson. It took us about 3 hours to get here from Tucson, so not a bad weekend destination for hiking.

While Las Cruces is a great base for daytrips, the city itself is home to number of beautiful natural wonders. Dripping Springs Natural Area is the best place to take in grand vistas of the incredible Organ mountains. This hiking oasis truly is a spectacular place worth going out of your way for.

Beautiful views along the Dripping Springs trail in Las Cruces, New Mexico
Now this is scenery worth traveling for!

The drive over from the city is a bit lengthy, however, also incredibly picturesque and tranquil, and thus, more than worthy of the detour. The area includes 4 miles of easy hiking trails, the best being the Dripping Springs trail. As the Organ Mountains rise up over 9000 feet at their highest point, as you can imagine, the scenery is beyond breathtaking.

The Dripping Springs trail

The Dripping Springs trail is tranquil and incredibly scenic. It’s not unusual to see mule deer running across the mountains, and occasionally, a mountain lion makes an appearance. It’s crazy to think how little traffic this trail sees despite the immense beauty. Asides from gorgeous mountain scenery, there is a small waterfall at the end of the trail.

A few scenic vistas along the trail

Scenic views along the Dripping Springs trail in Las Cruces, New Mexico
Tiny waterfall at the end of the Dripping Springs trail in Las Cruces, New Mexico
A bit hard to see in this photo, but if you look closely you will see a small waterfall. Nothing too spectacular, however, just another beautiful addition to a great hike!
Peaceful scenery on the Dripping Springs trail in Las Cruces, NM
Mountain scenery along the Dripping Springs trail near Las Cruces, New Mexico

A bit of history…

And, there’s a bit of history to enjoy as well. About a mile into the trail, you will come across the remains of the Van Patten Mountain Camp/Dripping Springs Resort built by a Confederate officer in 1897. The officer sold the resort to Dr. Boyd, whom converted it into a sanitorium.

Dr. Boyd built the sanitorium for his wife whom was dying of tuberculosis. Unfortunately, she did not survive, as was the case for most patients. Doctors during this time period believed that sending patients to dry mountain areas could cure the disease by drying out moisture from the lungs. The ruins of Boyd’s Sanitorium are located near the end of the trail.

Old sanitorium on the Dripping Springs trail in Las Cruces, New Mexico
Boyd’s sanitorium

A paranormal hotspot?

Like many other abandoned places, the sanitorium ruins have taken on quite a spooky tone. Ghost hunters continue to explore the ruins with their EVP monitors in hand. Local legend say that ghosts of the patients continue to haunt the sanitorium. Any time you hike an isolated trail, the atmosphere takes on an eerie nature. Add in the creepy crumpled nature of the ruins and the legends of medical experiments done on the patients, and really it is not impossible to imagine ghosts lurking about.

Hiking Details

  • Location: 15000 Dripping Springs Rd, Las Cruces, NM 88011
  • Admission fee: $5 per vehicle
  • Hours: Year-round except for Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve & Day. Entrance gate is open 7am-sunset (8am from Nov-March).
  • Distance: 1.5 miles out-and-back
  • Difficulty: Pretty easy with just a few steep sections