Monday, October 12, 2015

Dripping Springs Natural Area & The Organ Mountains

Organ Mountains - Desert Peaks National Monument

View Along the Trail To Dripping Springs
I was in Las Cruces, NM during October, 2015 and my forthcoming adventures will be further explorations of the Rio Grande Rift and its impact on southern New Mexico.

Chihuahuan Desert
Ten miles east of Las Cruces sits Dripping Springs Natural Area which is now part of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, another beautiful site managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

The Organ Mountains are a series of steep, rocky needles that jut dramatically above the Chihuahuan Desert floor to an elevation of 9,000 feet. Sitting astride the Rio Grande Rift, they are the result of tectonic plate movement along this long fault line in the desert southwest.

There is primitive camping on nearby BLM land and 57 family campsites and two group sites in the Aguirre Spring Campground located on the east side of the Organ Mountains. It overlooks the Tularosa Basin and White Sands National Monument which I will be visiting next month.

There is a visitor center, twelve picnic sites, and more than 50 miles of hiking trails in the area. Hiking in the morning hours is recommended for the western slopes so that you can stay in the shadow of the Organ Mountain peaks.

Western View Along The Dripping Springs Approach Trail
Cabin Construction
I hiked about four miles at Dripping Springs to see the remnants of the Dripping Springs Resort and Sanitorium built by Colonel Eugene Van Patten in the 1870s. Partially restored buildings show how medical treatments of the late 1800s often relied upon the notion of recuperating from illness in secluded locations surrounded by nature, with abundant sunshine, fresh air, natural springs,and dietetic regulation. For example, consider the Battle Creek (Kellogg's cereal fame) Sanitorium.

I would have likely enjoyed living in these cabins and taking daily walks along the secluded mountain trails. Still visible are the livery stable, water retention reservoir, and a couple of the guest cabins perched high on the hillsides.

Nature abounds in the narrow Organ Mountains canyons. The local native plant society has helped preserve or replant almost 200 different trees, shrubs, grasses, ferns, cacti, and herbs in the canyon and at the visitor center.

Remnants of Resort / Sanitorium
High View of the Resort / Sanitorium
through the Dripping Springs
Stream Canyon Walls
Yucca Plant Stem

Tree Cholla (Candelabra Cactus)

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