This story is a staff report from The Paper.


Just three hours South of Albuquerque sits Las Cruces, a city known for its combination of rich agricultural and culinary traditions, cultural diversity, and natural beauty, that feed the soul and invite exploration. Averaging 320 days of sunshine each year with moderate temperatures, Las Cruces is filled with a wide range of year-round outdoor recreation and cultural activities that offer plenty of safe open spaces for adventure seekers of all ages and abilities.

The city’s location at the crossroads of Interstate 10 and Interstate 25 makes it an ideal hub for a road trip with potential stops at the hot springs in Truth or Consequences, a pick up stop for some of the world-famous chile in Hatch, and a bucket-list-worthy stop to visit to the sparkling gypsum dunes of White Sands National Park. 

Once in Las Cruces, you can also explore the extensive hiking and biking trails within the city’s two national monuments, the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument and the Prehistoric Trackways National Monuments, both of which feature majestic views of the city and the surrounding mountain ranges, and some of which feature expansive views of the iconic pecan orchards and chile fields.

As one of the largest exporters of pecans and green chile in the country, and as the oldest wine producing region in the United States, it should come as no surprise that modern day Las Cruces features a diverse mix of cuisines, breweries, wineries, coffee shops, and specialty shops that often use the locally grown produce that the region is known for. In 1629, the first grapevines were planted along the Rio Grande river which were originally smuggled from Spain by monks to make wine for ceremony and sacrament. 

To finish up some holiday shopping, you can stop by downtown las cruces or the nearby historic Mesilla plaza for plenty of unique retail, dining and nightlife options, many of which have heated outdoor patios. Downtown Las Cruces is also home to the Las Cruces Arts and Cultural District, an area which includes the original townsite that was founded by Don Pablo Melendres and platted in 1849 by U.S. Army surveyors, led by Lt. Delos Sackett, using a rawhide rope. The district has a wide variety of museums, art galleries, restaurants, breweries, bars and retail shops, in addition to eight historic sites and about 100 buildings listed on the National Register for Historic Places.

Before heading back out of town, you can snap some memorable selfies at the postcard-themed “Color Me Cruces” mural in downtown, the World’s Largest Chile Pepper at the Big Chile Inn, or just West of Las Cruces, the Recycled Roadrunnner, a 20 foot tall and 40 foot long sculpture made from recycled materials as a tribute to New Mexico’s State Bird, all while daydreaming about your next visit.

To plan your monumental road trip to Las Cruces, check out: