The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument was established on May 21, 2014, by Presidential Proclamation, and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The Monument includes 496,330 acres, and was established to protect significant prehistoric, historic, geologic, and biologic resources of scientific interest. The National Monument includes four distinct areas: the Organ Mountains, Desert Peaks, Potrillo Mountains, and Doña Ana Mountains.
The Organ Mountains are a steep, angular mountain range with rocky spires that jut majestically above the Chihuahuan Desert floor to an elevation of 9,000 feet. It is so named because the needle-like spires resemble the pipes of an organ. This picturesque area of rocky peaks, narrow canyons, and open woodlands ranges from Chihuahuan Desert habitat to ponderosa pine in the highest elevations. Located adjacent to and on the east side of Las Cruces, this part of the Monument provides many opportunities for photography, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, camping, and wildlife viewing. There are several recreation areas within the Monument including the Dripping Springs Natural Area, the Aguirre Spring Campground, four National Recreation Trails, and many miles of hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking trails.
The Desert Peaks include the Robledo Mountains, Sierra de las Uvas, and Doña Ana Mountains and are located northwest of Las Cruces. This landscape is characterized by desert mountains rising steeply from flat plains. The Doña Ana Mountains are an isolated cluster of peaks whose steep and jagged slopes capture the attention of anyone within viewing distance. The Robledo Mountains are characterized by rugged, steep canyons and southward dipping cuestas. Grasses and mixed desert shrubs are the characteristic vegetation. Sierra De Las Uvas is composed of a mountain complex of tilted, bedded volcanic rock with a gentle western slope, and cliffs on the east side. This area also includes the Picacho Peak Recreation Area diverse trail use.
The Potrillo Mountains are the most remote section of the Monument located a distance to the southwest from Las Cruces. This is a volcanic landscape of cinder cones, lava flows, and craters. Numerous volcanic cinder cones jut out prominently from otherwise broad desert plains, including Cox Peak, the largest of the cinder cones, which is prominent from a long distance. The Aden Lava Flow is a flat, rocky, and vegetated plain of pressure ridges, lava tubes, and steep walled depressions. The Kilbourne Hole National Natural Landmark (NNL) is a large crater, known as a Maar, resulting from an ancient volcanic explosion which emitted mostly volcanic gas.
Doña Ana Mountains
The Doña Ana Mountains have extensive pedestrian trails, equestrian trails, mountain bike trails, rock climbing routes, and some limited routes available for motorized use. Sensitive cultural and natural resources are protected in these mountains.
Each of these four areas offers unique recreational opportunities. The most developed portion of the monument is the Organ Mountains which is the location of the Visitor Center at Dripping Springs. Organ Mountains also has a campground, and trails including the Sierra Vista, Soledad Canyon, and La Cueva, as well as trails within the Organ Mountains WSA, and the Organ Needles WSA.
At this time, the primary access areas for the Desert Peaks area is the Robledo Mountains WSA and Las Uvas Mountains WSA.
The primary access areas for the Potrillo Mountains area at this time are the Kilbourne Hole Volcanic Crater NNL, the West Potrillo Mountains WSA, Mount Riley WSA, and Aden Lava Flow WSA.