New Mexico: The Land of Enchantment

posted in: New Mexico, Road Trip, Van Life | 4

After spending time in Southwestern Texas, we opted to head north to New Mexico with no particular plan and minimal expectations. Eric spent a short time in Carlsbad during his twenties, but I had only driven through via I-40. Ultimately, neither of us had really explored New Mexico and we wanted something new. All I can say is, New Mexico was a big surprise. As the state motto claims, New Mexico truly is the Land of Enchantment. The biggest disappointment is that we couldn’t stay longer!

The Lincoln National Forest

As you could probably guess by the Idaho-esque photo above, the Lincoln National Forest was one of my favorite spots. Unfortunately, due to covid, most of the campgrounds were closed. Additionally, the higher elevations were covered in snow and it was hunting season, both significantly limiting our dispersed camping options in the busy forest.

View from the summit

From the top of the summit, you could actually see the famous White Sands National Park in the valley below. Unfortunately, it was a bit hazy making it difficult to see in the photo above. It was far more grand that the picture shows.

Just past the summit we found a spot right off the road that we were able to pull into without much trouble. We stopped stopped for a few hours to let Grizz play in the snow and burn off some energy. I think he appreciated the gesture as snow is probably his favorite thing on earth (well, besides the occasional Cheese-It). Due to the possibility of inclement weather and fact that I was really ready for some decent weather, we decided to make our way to the valley below.

The 14 mile long Rim Trail will have to wait for our next visit!

BLM near La Luz

Greetings.

Initially, Eric and I were skeptical about the BLM land outside of La Luz. First, it was located about 400 yards from a sketchy neighborhood filled with barking dogs. Second, the road in was extremely rutted, making the drive slow, tedious and not good for a fast getaway if needed. Third, was the not-so- welcoming, welcoming committee—the TRASH. After boasting about the west being “cleaner” in my Arkansas Rant, I had to eat my words because this was much, much worse! From millions of shotgun shells to broken televisions, monitors, and everything in between, this placed was covered in trash. Very disappointing.

Unlike Arkansas though, New Mexico did have some fantastic beer. So, there’s that! 😉

If you overlook the trash, it was quite a beautiful hike.

Despite being very close to town, giving it a not-so-private feel, we decided to stick around for the night. The driving force of that decision: hunger, fatigue, and timing. All-in-all, it ended up being an okay stop for one night. The highlights being that Grizzy got some exercise and the sunset was quite beautiful.

Dramatic skies
Beautiful colors and swirly clouds

The Organ Mountains

Named for their steep, pipe-like spires resembling those of an organ, these mountains form a beautiful backdrop to the city of Las Cruces. This was a completely unplanned stop that ended up being one of our favorites. At $7/night, it was too hard to pass up. In all our travels, it was the cheapest and most scenic paid spot we’ve ever stayed at—Thank you Bureau of Land Management.

Check out some views right from our spot!

Photo by Eric

Pine Tree Trail

Despite dire words warning of possible death posted on bright yellow signs throughout the park, Grizz and I hit the trails fully prepared with extra food and water, a first aid kit, and trekking poles.

I’m so glad we didn’t let the warnings stop us. The Pine Tree Loop was scenic, rugged, and a fantastic climb. Here are some photos from our hike:

One of my favorite shots!
Grizzy coming around the mountain
Grizz practices his commands. Good sit buddy!
Lots of climbing = lots of descending!
A happy Grizz
Does this tree look surprised to you? lol
Catch up dude!
Views as we climbed
Grizz and I love the mountains. The more rugged the better!
Surrounded by beauty in every direction.
Grizz leads the way (his favorite way to hike).
Surrounded by tall trees with framed views of the mountain peaks.
The bark on the tree to the left was so cool
Grizz on the run
Grizz patiently waiting for me to take a picture of this stunning view
Loving the Organ Mountains!

Ok, I have about 20 more photographs, but you get the idea. It was beautiful from any and every angle. I personally can’t wait to go back to the Organ Mountains and hike several of the other trails in the area! Grizz seconds that idea!

Here are a few more photos of the area in general:

Twisting road was fun to drive/ride/walk
Golden Hour
Slight sunset with crazy cool clouds
A sunflower?

In the photograph above, the yellow plant is actually a fallen palm tree bottom. When I was walking Grizz one night, I shined the light and noticed that it looked like a sunflower and thought it made for an interesting picture.

Reflections

Have I mentioned how much Eric and I enjoyed our time in New Mexico? Now, hopefully you can see why. It was stunningly beautiful and exceptionally quiet. We had some great dispersed camping options and everyone was super friendly. As I mentioned, we would have loved to stay longer but with covid running rampant and the state in near lock-down, we wanted to be respectful as well as stay safe.

So another time New Mexico—You will not be forgotten!

Next stop: Arizona.

Thanks for reading friends!

4 Responses

  1. GabyTaylor

    I’ve always said NM has great outdoors, and wonderful skies. I am so glad u enjoyed it. And i can wait to see what else you find.
    Also Grizz seems to be enjoying it. You both look happy.

    • Jenni

      Hi Gaby! YES. You are so right. NM has fantastic skies and the outdoor opportunities felt endless. The people were also very friendly. And Grizz was having a great time, though he loved Arizona the most!

  2. Debbie

    Jenni, I have never explored New Mexico. But, after this blog, it’s now a must see for me! As usual, I felt like I was traveling with you! Thanks so much for continuing to share your adventures with us!

    • Jenni

      I’m pretty sure Eric’s Mom would be really upset if I quit writing this blog…so I guess I’ll keep sharing 🙂 Haha Oh, you would LOVE NM. I’m so glad to hear that you’re thinking of adding it to your list. The Organ Mountains are a must for you. I think you’d love ANY/ALL the hikes in the area!

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