Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument surrounds Las Cruces. Visitors wishing to check out the nation's newest national monument should head to the Organ Mountains, the most easily accessible of its four areas. The name refers to the needle-like spires resembling organ pipes that jut dramatically from the Chihuahuan Desert floor and reach heights of up to 9,000 feet. Other features of this ruggedly scenic environment are narrow canyons and open woodlands. The Organ Mountains offer numerous opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, camping, wildlife viewing and landscape photography.
Dripping Springs Natural Area is one of several designated recreation areas within the national monument. More than 4 miles of easy hiking trails wind past desert scrub and woods of juniper and oak trees. Bird watchers will spot red-tailed hawks, golden eagles and Gambel's quail, among other species; wildlife includes desert mule deer, coyotes and the occasional mountain lion.
The Dripping Springs Visitor Center is about 10 miles east of Las Cruces; from I-25 exit 1, take University Avenue/Dripping Springs Road east to the end. Interpretive displays provide information about the Organ Mountains.