Our first stop outside of Texas was New Mexico. I wanted to go to Carlsbad Caverns because I went there in 6th grade when we lived in Midland TX and remember it being awesome! It is a massive cave 750 feet below ground that takes about one hour to walk down into and another hour to walk through. My memory did not disappoint me.
The only downer of the day was when Mama lost the Zimmigo mascot, Sea Otter (you may have noticed him on our hiking adventures). Kimberly realized he was lost when we began descending into the cave. She knew she’d be in serious trouble with Adele and worried about it the whole way down. We had to take the elevator from the bottom of the cave back up to the visitor center to look for Sea Otter. After searching a few spots where we though we left him, we found him in the lost-n-found. There he was…tagged, logged and lonely…in a grey plastic bin hoping his family would come back for him.
Our next stop was White Sands National Monument. The monument is located in the Tularosa Basin, nestled between the San Andres and Sacramento Mountains. The monument is full of sand dunes as far as the eye can see. But unlike dunes made of quartz-based sand crystals, the White Sands dunes are gypsum which do not readily convert the sun’s energy into heat and thus can be walked upon safely with bare feet, even in the hottest summer months.
We stayed at Oliver Lee State Park while visiting White Sands. Oliver Lee was a secluded small state park nestled against the Sacramento mountains with lots of space between campsites and excellent views of the Tularosa Basin and mountains. We got some good hiking along the Dog Canyon trails while we were there. Definitely one of our top state parks stays from a view perspective.
Our final stop in New Mexico, Silver City. A small mining town of about ten thousand people where the top story of the town was about Domino’s Pizza moving into the old Taco Bell location. On our first day, we hit downtown for lunch and a little laundry. Adele and I ran across an old log cabin downtown which was a replica of the childhood home of Billy The Kid.
Silver City day two was spent traveling the Trail of the Mountain Spirits highway to the Gila Cliff Dwellings in the Gila National Forest. The highway was a lovely trip I highly recommend if you are into scenic drives. After a lengthy lecture by the park ranger on keeping your hands off the dwelling, Adele managed to knock over only one 750 year old stack of rocks built by the Mogollon people who inhabited the dwellings. A successful visit in my book!
After that we drove to the City of Rocks state park before heading home. The park is the home of volcanic rock formations rising as high as 40 feet with lanes and paths between them. I was able to practice my rock climbing skills!
On our last day at Silver City, we set off for the Mogollon Ghost Town and the Catwalk Trail. The Mogollon Ghost Town involved a steep one lane road up the side of a mountain. We chickened out half way through, turned around and headed out for the Catwalk Trail. The trail is a suspended walkway meandering along the Gila River with spectacular views and a sense of floating above the water. Much of the upper trail was washed away from flood waters, but it was still a sight to see.
Overall, we were definitely enchanted by the Land of Enchantment. Now off to Arizona.