Organ Mountain Desert Peaks National Monument
Driving into Las Cruces, New Mexico it is impossible to miss the breath-taking view of the Organ Mountain Desert Peaks National Monument that lies to the east of the town. It doesn’t matter what time of day or night it is they stand there, boldly cutting into the New Mexico sky line.
The monument is 496,330 acres and over 9,000 feet in elevation, and is managed by the Bureau of Land Ma
nagement. It is part of the Chihuahuan Desert. There are five mountain ranges that are within the monument. They are the Robledo Mountains, Sierra de las Uvas, Doña Ana Mountains, Organ Mountains and Potrillo Mountains.
There has been controversy over the past view years on the monuments status. The monument was established in 2014 under the Obama administration. Three years later under the Trump administration the monument is undergoing review to possibly shrink or completely lose monument status. During these three years the Las Cruces community has spoken out in favor and against the monument.
Though the mountain range may be a hot button point politically, it is definitely one of the hottest hiking spots in the southwest. One of the most popular places to visit in the Organ Mountains is Dripping Spring.
Dripping Springs Natural Area has a few hiking trails, picnic spots, wildlife and a visitor center. To get to the area you drive east on University Road and keep going. As you pass A Mountain the homes become larger and spread further apart. Most of the homes on the drive up to the mountain seem like small mansions. The view of the mountains is stunning from these homes.
In visiting with Nick Miller at his straw bale home that he has built out there, his view from his backyard was something you only see in movies. The closer you drive towards the mountains the more you are able to take in their grandeur.
Once at the mountains you park at the visitor center and head inside to check in. On my visit to the center I met with Don Tomey, the worker at the center for the day. Him and his wife work there as volunteers. They are from the Mesilla Valley and love the mountain range. He said, “we both volunteer up here. We have a house down in the valley, but it is nice to be able to stay up here and get away.” There is a house for them to stay at while they work there.
All of the workers at the center are volunteers. Only the workers for the BLM and the Rangers are paid. Don truly enjoys his job there. He enjoys educating tourists about the land and wildlife, and checking in with the regulars who come to hike often. He says on an average day they get about one hundred people visiting the mountains. On the weekends there is close to 400-500 people that visit the monument. Although there may be controversy on whether the mountains should be a monument or not one thing is for sure, people love visiting them and looking at them.