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The university and agricultural center for southeastern New Mexico, Las Cruces is located only 44 miles from El Paso, Texas. In the early 1800s, the town was a stopping point on the old Camino Real -- the Spanish trail that linked Santa Fe and Mexico City. In 1830, a caravan of travelers along the road was massacred by Apaches, and many crosses were placed in the burial grounds. Thus the city's name ("the crosses").

Las Cruces - New Mexico

The Santa Fe Railroad came to town in 1881, and New Mexico State University was established here in 1888. The waters of the Rio Grande were used to irrigate the desert throughout this area, and Las Cruces became a major farming hub.

This is the place to visit if you're fascinated by chile peppers. The famed New Mexico green chile is grown here in abundance. The best place to shop for fresh green chiles, at roadside stands, is in Hatch, a little town 20 miles north of Las Cruces. Hatch chiles are found across the country in most of the restaurants that serve the popular Southwestern cuisine.

Outdoor Recreation

The Organ Mountains lie just to the east of the city, offering several places for hiking and picnicking, including the Aguirre Spring National Recreation Site.

Leasburg Dam State Park, near Hatch, is a popular place for canoeing and fishing on the Rio Grande. An irrigation dam backs up the river, making a small lake. There's a picnic area beside the river, below the dam, and a campground is located on the desert overlooking the river. It's an ideal place to camp while visiting the area, just 15 miles north of Las Cruces via New Mexico Route 85.

Fort Seldon State Monument

The historic site is 14 miles north of the city via Interstate 25. Established in 1865 and abandoned in 1891, Fort Seldon protected settlers and travelers against Indian raids. The site is open daily and a self-guided tour will take you to the adobe ruins of the fort from the visitor center. A small museum has historic exhibits, including displays of army uniforms and guns of the period when the fort was active. For information, call (505) 526-8911.

State University

New Mexico State is situated three miles southeast of the downtown area, at University Avenue and Locust Street. The university offers free admission to its Museum of Regional History (open daily except Mondays). There is an art gallery on the campus, as well as an 18-hole golf course open to the public, daily, on a pay-for-play basis.

Farmers Market

Every Wednesday and Saturday morning, throughout the year, the Downtown Mall on Main Street becomes a farmers market. You'll find fresh produce straight from local farms, plus baked goods, crafts and jewelry. Hundreds of people flock to the market and it pays to get there early (around 8 am).

The most renowned local agricultural product is the New Mexico green chile pepper. Hatch is a nearby town ion the center of the chile pepper fields, and the green chiles are commonly called Hatch chiles. They are available at the Las Cruces Farmers Market, as well as at chile stands closer to Hatch.

Scenic Drives

The most popular day-trip leads through the Organ Mountains to White Sands National Monument and on to Alamogordo and Cloudcroft. Other popular jaunts include the short drives to El Paso, Texas and into Mexico from the border crossing a few miles south of Las Cruces.

New Mexico Destinations

Alamogordo

Albuquerque

Aztec

Bandelier National Monument

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Chaco Culture National Historic Park

Chama

Cloudcroft

Las Cruces

Los Alamos

Mesilla

Ruidoso

Santa Fe

Silver City

Taos

 


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