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Recreation Opportunities 
at Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument


Visitor Center

The Dripping Springs Visitor Center offers interpretive displays of the Organ Mountains. It is located ten miles east of Interstate 25. In Las Cruces, take Exit 1 and drive east to the end of the road.  A fee of $5 is charged per vehicle. The Visitor Center is open all year, except winter holidays, from 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 p.m. Phone: 575-522-1219.


Recreational Opportunities

Camping | Climbing | Historic Site | Geologic Points of Interest | Horseback Riding | Mountain Biking | Off-Highway Vehicles | Picnicking | Trails

  

Camping - Developed

The Aguirre Spring Campground is located on the east side of the Organ Mountains. The Campground is the only high-country campground in the Las Cruces/El Paso/Juarez region. It is a popular and busy picnic site on weekends and holidays, and includes 57 family sites and two group sites. 

The Aquirre Spring Campground is open year-round. 

  • From April to October, the entrance gate is open from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. 
  • From October to April, it is open from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. 
  • Non-campers must leave the area by 10:00 p.m. year-round

Aquirre Spring Campground Fees

  • Day use is $5 per vehicle and $15 per bus. 
  • Camping fees are $7 per campsite. 
  • Group sites are $50, and reservations are required. 

Camping - Primitive

Camping in the vast areas of Desert Peaks and Potrillo Mountains is primitive and does not require a permit or fee.


Climbing

Numerous climbing routes are present on the many rock pinnacles of the Organ Mountains. These routes are privately described in guide books and other publications. Because the Organ Mountains are a Wilderness Study Area, the placement of fixed anchors is prohibited. 


Historical Sites

Historical SitesLa Cueva rock shelter is an archeological site located at the foot of the Organ Mountains outside Las Cruces, New Mexico. The shelter was occupied from almost 5,000 BC through the historic period that followed the arrival of the Europeans. In the mid-1970s, approximately 100,000 artifacts were recovered here by the University of Texas at El Paso. During the 18th and 19th Centuries, the rock shelter was probably known to the roving bands of Apaches who frequented the area. Then, in the 1860s, the cave was reportedly home to one of the more eccentric figures of New Mexico's history, Giovanni Maria Agotini, known to local folks as "El Ermitano," the Hermit. The cave can be reached by a moderately challenging trail less than a half mile from a picnic area. Restrooms and drinking water are available at La Cueva Picnic Area. There is a $5 day use fee.

Dripping Springs Resort was originally built by Colonel Eugene Van Patten in the 1870s.  In 1917, Van Patten went bankrupt and Drippings Springs was sold to Nathan Boyd, who homesteaded on a parcel of land adjacent to the Resort.  Boyd converted Dripping Springs into a sanatorium.  The Boyd family eventually sold the property to Dr. Sexton, a Las Cruces physician, who continued to operate it as a sanatorium.  Today, the ruins of Dripping Springs Resort lie scattered along the canyon, preserving the memory of Colonel Van Patten, the doctors Boyd and Sexton, and the many famous and not so famous who visited there!


Geologic Points of Interest

Scenic GeologyA remnant of an ancient volcanic explosion, Kilbourne Hole was designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1975. This crater can be found in a desert basin between the Potrillo Mountains and the Río Grande in southern Doña Ana County. Kilbourne Hole is roughly elliptical in shape, and is known as a Maar — a pit or depression caused by a volcanic explosion with little material emitted except volcanic gas. The crater is between 24,000 and 100,000 years old, and measures 1.7 miles long by well over a mile across, and is hundreds of feet deep. There are no restrooms or drinking water. 


Horseback Riding

Horseback RidingTrails available to horseback riding include the Sierra Vista Trail, Baylor Pass Trail, Bar Canyon Trail, and the Picacho Peak Trails. The vast and open areas of the Desert Peaks and Potrillo Mountains are good places for cross-country horseback riding.


Mountain Biking

Mountain BikingTrails suitable for mountain biking include the Sierra Vista Trail, the Canyon Loop Trail, and the SST Trail. Unless otherwise signed, all dirt roads in the National Monument are available for mountain biking. Bicycles are limited to roads and trails.


Off-Highway Vehicles

Until the Management Plan for the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument is completed, motorized vehicle use is limited to existing roads and trails.  This is consistent with existing land use plan decisions for the Monument lands delineated in the Mimbres Resource Management Plan.  The Monument Management Plan will revisit this decision and will identify specific designated roads within the Monument.


Picnicking

PicnickingThe Dripping Springs area includes 12 picnic sites, and one large family/group picnic site that can be reserved, and includes accessible restrooms. The Aguirre Spring Campground sites can be used for picnicking and have shelters or shade trees and accessible restrooms. Although restrooms and drinking water are not available at the Picacho Peak Recreation Area, there is one shaded picnic area. 


Trails

Organ Mountains Trails:

Hiking, Horseback Riding Baylor Pass Trail is six miles long and connects between the Aguirre Spring Campground on the east side of the Organ Mountains and the Baylor Canyon Road on the west side of the mountains. This Trail is open to hiking and equestrian use.

Hiking Pine Tree Trail is a four-mile loop from the Aguirre Spring Campground and climbs to the base of the Organ Needles. This Trail is open to hiking only.

Hiking, Mountain Biking, Horseback Riding Sierra Vista Trail is a 29-mile National Recreation Trail. It is a non-motorized trail along the western flank of the Organ Mountains and the eastern side of the Franklin Mountains.

Hiking La Cueva Trail connects between the La Cueva Picnic Area and the Dripping Springs Visitor Center and passes by the La Cueva rock formation.

Hiking Dripping Springs Trail begins at the Dripping Springs Visitor Center and provides access to the historic buildings at Dripping Springs.

Hiking Filmore Canyon Trail begins at the La Cueva Picnic Area and ends at a small waterfall at the mouth of Filmore Canyon.

Hiking Crawford Trail connects between the Fillmore Canyon Trail and the Dripping Springs Trail.  This Trail makes possible a loop hike starting at the Dripping Springs Visitor Center.

Hiking Bar Canyon Trail is a three-mile loop, which offers an easy and scenic hike very close to Las Cruces. The Bar Canyon Trail includes scenic vistas of the central Organ Mountains and the southern Mesilla Valley and is located at the Soledad Canyon Day Use Area.


Desert Peaks Trails:

Hiking, Mountain Biking, Horseback Riding Numerous trails are accessible from the parking lot of the Picacho Peak Recreation Area, and encompass over 15 miles of moderate to challenging trails for hiking, horseback riding, or mountain biking. 


Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument

Photo Gallery

Hiking/Backpacking Horseback Riding Mountain Bike Trail Camping Picnicking
Watchable Wildlife Visitor Centers Historical Sites Nature Study Scenic Geology
Climbing Off Highway Vehicle

Monument Information

Presidential Proclamation | Map

Fact Sheet | Text Only
Created: May 21, 2014
Size: 496,330 acres of public land

Plan Your Visit
Visitor Centers and Recreation Opportunities
Things to Know Before You Go:
Fees / Season / Hours

Contact Information
Las Cruces District Office
1800 Marquess Street
Las Cruces, NM 88005-3370
(575) 525-4300

Dripping Springs Visitor Center
(575) 522-1219

Public Lands Information Center