Day trips are the perfect way to appreciate attractions close to home. The only requirements are a day off and some money to cover gas and meals. The price of each trip varies, but we’ve capped the drive time to roughly 90 minutes (3 hours round trip). So, if a vacation feels a long way off, indulge in a mini New Mexico getaway and head to one of these 11 fun spots near Las Cruces.
1. Kilbourne Hole
The Kilbourne Hole is a National Natural Landmark that was formed as a result of a volcanic explosion. The crater that is left behind stretches for over a mile in both width and length. If you want to marvel at our state’s geologic history, this is the picnic spot for you.
Visitors are allowed to walk around the edge of the hole, which is on BLM property, but don’t have access to the crater floor. There are no amenities, so pack in and pack out.
Drive time: 85 minutes in either direction, much of it on unpaved roads.
2. Pancho Villa State Park
Brush up on your history with a trip to this fascinating state park that details Pancho Villa’s 1916 raid on the town of Columbus and the history of Camp Furlong. This spot is also known for birding, so keep an eye out for roadrunners, horned owls, and ladder-backed woodpeckers during your visit.
Cost: $5 for day use
Drive time: It takes 97 minutes each way.
3. Hot springs resort
Truth or Consequences is literally brimming with hot springs resorts and you don’t have to be an overnight guest to take a soak at these establishments. Unwind in a tub at the historic Sierra Grande Lodge and Spa or at scenic Riverbend Hot Springs.
Cost: Property passes granting access to the common pools and sauna at Riverbend Hot Springs cost $12 per person, while 1-2 guests can enjoy a 30-minute soak for $30 at the Sierra Grande Lodge and Spa.
Drive time: 69 minutes in either direction.
4. Lake Valley
This ghost town, situated between Nutt and Hillsboro, sprang up around the Bridal Chamber Mine. When the silver panic of 1893 was followed by a saloon fire, two years later, Lake Valley struggled to recover. However, it only officially became a ghost town in 1974, with the death of its final resident. As you’d expect, amenities are nonexistent, so pack a lunch.
Drive time: 85 minutes each way.
5. Florida Mountains Wilderness Study Area
Spring Canyon in Rockhound State Park is probably the easiest way to reach the Florida Mountains for an incredible wilderness hike. This mountain range stretches for roughly 12 miles. You may spot ibex and javelina roaming here, and raptors soaring overhead. Hikers and photographers alike will appreciate this area.
Cost: $5 day use from Rockhound
Drive time: 74 minutes each way.
6. Rockhound State Park
If you’re not comfortable with going completely off grid, stay in the main portion of the park and spend some time rock hunting. You’re allowed to remove up to 15 pounds of rocks or minerals for your personal use. Think of it as the desert version of beach combing.
Cost: $5 for the day
Drive time: 68 minutes each way.
7. Tour a pistachio farm
Take a free 45-minute long tour of Eagle Ranch in Alamogordo to view our state’s biggest pistachio groves, and the processing facility. Afterwards, stop at the store to browse the finished product and sample Heart of the Desert wines. Between the months of June and August, tours run twice a day at 10:00 a.m. and again 1:30 p.m. This experience is only available on weekdays, so this day trip is best suited to those who don’t work standard hours.
Cost: Free, including the wine tasting
Drive time: 74 minutes one-way.
8. Sunspot Scenic Byway
Maybe it sounds counterintuitive to drive to Cloudcroft in order to embark on another drive. However, this scenic byway is only 16 miles long and the views make it more than worthwhile. As the road wends its way through the Sacramento Mountains, enjoy expansive views of the Tularosa Basin. If you’re ready to stretch your legs, pause for a walk along the Nelson Vista Trail, which begins roughly six miles beyond Cloudcroft.
Drive time: 93 minutes in either direction.
9. New Mexico Museum of Space History
You don’t need to be an avid NASA fan to have fun at this museum in Alamogordo. Rockets balance, seemingly poised to launch, in the space park outside and inside are all the displays you’d expect to find about life in space. There’s even a planetarium.
Fun Fact: Ham the Astrochimp, who was the first humanoid in space, is buried at the Space Hall of Fame here.
Cost: $6 to enter the museum, $3.50 for the planetarium
Drive time: 76 minutes each way.
10. City of Rocks State Park
New Mexico is not a state with many tall buildings. That makes the boulders in this state park – some of which are up to 40-feet high - all the more impressive. The park also boasts a botanical garden and trails suitable for either hiking or mountain biking.
Cost: $5 for day use
Drive time: It takes 95 minutes in either direction.
11. The town of Hillsboro
Hillsboro started out as a mining town and, for a while, it was the Sierra County seat. To learn more about its history, print out the town's walking tour and go exploring. Afterwards, refuel at the Hillsboro General Store Cafe.
Which of these places have you visited? What’s the best day trip you’ve ever taken in New Mexico?