3 Perfect Days in New Mexico’s Old West Country

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Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge | I-10 Exit Guide

In New Mexico, adventure awaits at every corner. Native American culture abounds. National and state treasures are easy to find. And history is created every day. This I-10 road trip will take you on three perfect days in Old West Country.

DAY ONE: Start in Socorro, where, if your schedule jibes, you can catch a chamber music concert from the New Mexico Tech Performing Arts Series. Tour the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge before grabbing lunch at Buckhorn Tavern, in San Antonio. From here, two options beckon. You can take a scenic drive west along U.S. 60 to Magdalena and Pie Town, or continue south on I-25 to Truth or Consequences, where you soak in a hot springs bath, tour Spaceport America, or explore with Ted Turner Expeditions.

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge:Twenty miles to the south of Socorro lies the famous Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, the winter home of thousands of sandhill cranes, snow geese, ducks and other waterfowl. The 57,000+ acre refuge opened in 1939 to “provide a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife” as well as wintering grounds for the then-endangered greater sandhill cranes. Today it is one of the most highly managed refuges in the national system. The arrival of the sandhill cranes each year is celebrated by a 6-day festival each November. The cranes and snow geese generally remain on the refuge until mid-February when they return to their breeding grounds in the north. Even with their departure the refuge remains a wonderful place for hiking, biking and wildlife- and bird-watching year round. You will want to drive the auto Tour Loop to get up close to the wildlife and their habitat. The Visitor Center is open from 7:30am to 4:00pm on weekdays and 8:00am to 4:30pm on weekends, except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and July 4.

DAY TWO: Continuing south to Las Cruces, spend a day on the golf course, or explore the town’s historical side in Mesilla and the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum. More outdoor destinations await near Deming: City of Rocks State Park is 30 minutes north, and Rockhound State Park, where you’re encouraged to take home a souvenir, is 20 minutes south.

City of Rocks gets its name from the incredible volcanic rock formations found here. The park encompasses a one square mile area in the scenic Chihuahuan desert region of southeastern New Mexico at an elevation of 5,200 feet. The “city” is a geologic formation made up of large, sculptured rock columns, or pinnacles, rising as high as 40 feet and separated by paths or lanes resembling city streets. These rocks were formed about 34.9 million years ago when a very large volcano erupted. Then, erosion over millions of years slowly formed the sculptured columns seen today, creating a stunning, otherworldly landscape. Located about halfway between Silver City and Deming, City of Rocks offers camp sites, hiking trails, excellent mountain biking, wildlife viewing, birding, stargazing, picnic areas and a desert botanical garden. The uniquely designed, new Visitor Center includes a large display area and modern restrooms with hot showers. City of Rocks State Park is your official sponsor of adventure!

DAY THREE: Take in Silver City’s colorful art scene or continue on to the Gila National Forest, where you can extend your stay with a backcountry trip.

Nestled in the foothills of the Pinos Altos Mountains at an elevation of 6,000 feet, Silver City borders the Continental Divide.
The summer climate is cool and comfortable. You’ll enjoy crisp clean air and sunshine and their FOUR GENTLE SEASONS!

In New Mexico’s southwest corner, Silver City isn’t the kind of place people just stumble onto. Silver miners sought it out in the late 1800s, and more recently the town’s Old-West charm and high-desert location made it a magnet for outdoorsy and creative types. The historic district is home to casual restaurants that put the area’s green chiles to good use. Outside town, Silver City was recently selected as one of the healthiest places to live and retire.

The colorful history dating back to 1870 when silver was discovered above La Cienega (Marsh) de San Vicente. Tales from those early days tell of characters like Billy the Kid, Geronimo, Judge Roy Bean, “Dangerous” Dan Tucker, and the Hearst family.

You can exlore the ancient cultures and see collections of distinctive black on white pottery that was developed one thousand years ago by Mimbres Indians inhabiting the Silver City area.

Visit 3.3 million-acre national forest and wilderness areas, and today’s modern ranching and mining industries. Enjoy fantastic, authentic Mexican food, play 18 holes of golf, explore museums and galleries or shop the day away for unique Southwestern art and souvenirs.


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