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Alamogordo - New Mexico

Although it's a community without a long cultural and historical underpinning, Alamogordo is a neat, modern city within range of a wide selection of landscapes and recreational activity. On the east are the forested Sacramento Mountains, the highest range in southern New Mexico. To the west are the sand dunes of White Sands National Monument -- one of the most unearthly sights on earth.

Beyond the dunes is the White Sands Missile Range, in a desert valley where mere mortals are forbidden to enter. In recent years, the area has become a favorite place for "sunbirds" to spend their winters, baking in the hot sun of the Southwestern desert. Alameda Park is easily seen beside U.S. 70. Picnics are a popular activity in the park, and the free zoo has a small collection of animals and birds from America and Africa.

The destiny of Alamogordo has been tied to nearby Holloman Air Force Base, the largest employer in the area. There are several modern motels spaced along Route 70, the main road from Albuquerque and Las Cruces.

Space Center

This is the chief man-made attraction in Alamogordo, a five-storey glass and concrete cube that is home to the International Space Hall of Fame. There are exhibits on the birth and progress of the space age -- astronauts, scientists, and rockets. In a unique combination, the Clyde W. Thombaugh Space Theater includes both a planetarium and an Omnimax film system. The theater often features laser light shows, as well as star shows and films on the huge screen. Outside the dramatic building is a collection of spacecraft and launch vehicles. The Space Center is about three miles from downtown Alamogordo via U.S. Hwy. 70, Indian Wells Road and Scenic Drive (505-437-2840 or 800-545-4021).

Oliver Lee State Park

This fascinating natural area is 12 miles south of town via U.S. Hwy. 54 and then on a county road for 2 miles. Springs flow out of the desert year-round, creating comparatively lush vegetation.

This location was one of the final strongholds of Apache warriors and the site of several Indian/cavalry battles. There's a visitor center with exhibits on the human and natural history of this canyon which lies at the base of the Sacramento Mountains. There is a campground and an interpretive trail.

Three Rivers National Recreation Site

37 miles north of the city, a drive here proves an easy day-trip. This protected area includes more than 5,000 rock carvings made by Mogollon Indians who lived here between ad 900 and 1400. An interpretive trail leads to the site of a prehistoric Indian village. To get there, take Route 70 north for 13 miles and continue on U.S. Hwy. 54 to Three Rivers, where an 8-mile sideroad leads east to the preserve, managed by the BLM.

White Sands National Monument

Situated 16 miles southwest of Alamogordo, this amazing place features more than 200 square miles of gleaming gypsum sand that shifts around -- with some of the dunes as high as 60 feet. There's a visitor center at the park entrance and there are sets of sheltered picnic tables in the midst of the vast whiteness.

Cloudcroft and Ruidoso

Cloudcroft, a resort village, sits atop the Sacramento Mountains, 18 miles east of Alamogordo. The drive from Las Cruces to Alamogordo and Cloudcroft is described in one of our scenic drives in our guidebook "Southwest Adventures, the Road Guide", available as an e-book from Amazon.. Beyond Cloudcroft is Ruidoso, the famous horse racing town, which also features skiing (as does Cloudcroft). The All American Futurity, the richest horserace in the United States, is held at Ruidoso Downs each Labor Day.

The Lincoln State Monument (the scene of the Lincoln County War) is in the same mountain area.

Cloudcroft and Ruidoso have their own Destinations pages.

 

New Mexico Destinations

Alamogordo

Albuquerque

Aztec

Bandelier National Monument

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Chaco Culture National Historic Park

Chama

Cloudcroft

Los Alamos

Mesilla

Ruidoso

Santa Fe

Silver City

Taos

 


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