Mission San Juan, December 30, 2017

Mission San Juan, December 30, 2017
Mission San Juan, December 30, 2017

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Flash Drive - Sun., Feb. 23

It's a good thing both of us like to drive. We were up at 5:30 a.m., hit the road at 7:00 a.m. and made it through El Paso by 10 a.m. Here's what our morning sky looked like.

West Texas morning sky
When we entered El Paso, there was a billboard advertising the Blue Beacon Truck Wash. We wanted to have our 5th wheel washed, so we exited at the exit on the billboard. Neither one of us could find the Blue Beacon! Disappointed, we continued on.

When we crossed the border into New Mexico, we stopped at a very convenient Visitor Center, picked up information on City of Rocks State Park and Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. When we asked the lady working there how long it would take us to drive from Deming, NM to Gila Cliff Dwellings Nat'l. Monument, she said, "Three hours." Glad we asked!

New Mexico Visitor Center
History outside Visitor Center
Bob and I discussed driving the 93-mile-long Trail of the Mountain Spirits National Scenic Byway. However, we didn't have all day. We for sure wanted to see the open pit mine, Silver City and Pinos Altos. Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument will have to go on the bucket list for a future visit.

So we made up our own "Flash Drive." After lunch at Irma's Mexican Restaurant (thanks Catherine and JoBeth for the recommendation), we headed north on U.S. 180 to Hwy 61 which took us to City of Rocks State Park. After three miles on Hwy 61 we came to the turn for City of Rocks. There is a $5 per car day use fee which we happily paid.

City of Rocks State Park has a few water/electric pull-through sites; otherwise, the park is for boondocking. A small Visitor Center plays a movie about the huge volcano (1,000 times more powerful than Mt. St. Helens) that erupted millions of years ago. Over the ensuing years erosion has carved the rocks into different shapes and towers criss-crossed with natural paths.
Irma's Mexican Restaurant for lunch
Inside Irma's
A very cool state park!
Bob is on one of the naturally formed pathways.
I found my nicbe!
Overview of one part of City of Rocks
Bouldering Bob
Just another scenic view.

Grasses and rocks.
Bob is 6' tall. You can see how big some rocks are!
Sheltered tent site.
Pull-though site #28 (no amenities...boondocking)

From City of Rocks, we headed east to Hwy 152, turned left (west) on Hwy 152 and headed to the Santa Rita mine overlook, one of the world's largest open pit copper mines. Copper has been mined there since 1801.

Santa Rita open pit mine
Fascinating, impressive stop. But it was cold at almost 6,000' elevation!

We then drove through Fort Bayard National Historic Landmark. The fort was activated in 1867 to help fight off the Apaches who raided the area. After the fort was abandoned as a cavalry post in 1900, it was converted into an Army medical facility to treat tuberculosis.

Fort Bayard
Ft. Bayard's previous hospital.
Officers quarters.
Onward to Silver City. The city was started in 1870 because silver was discovered in "them thar hills." The town's founders decided Silver City would be "built to last." In 1880 an ordinance was passed requiring masonry construction for new buildings. While masonry stands up well against fire, it does not hold up to catastophic floods.

Between 1890 and 1910 floods washed away the original Main Street.  What used to be Main Street is now the Big Ditch Park. In recent years, many art galleries and eclectic restaurants and shops have opened in Silver City.

The Big Ditch Park  
Mural on Silver City Food Co-op building.
Art can bee found throughout town.
 Lots of art!

Murals on building exteriors
Former windows are now beautifully re-created.
Close-up of one window.
Bob at 1870's log cabin, see sign below.

We even found Billy the Kid's homesite.

But wait! We're not done yet. Six miles north of Silver City is another historic town, Pinos Altos, where gold was first discovered in the area by Spanish and Mexican miners. Pinos Altos looks like it may have looked 150 years ago when it was inhabited by the likes of Judge Roy Bean. It is located along the Continental Divide on NM Hwy 15.

Hearst (?) Church, 1898
Opera House from the '60s, 1860s that is!

The Buckhorn Saloon
 Here's Bob with The Beast at 7,010 ft. on the Continental Divide.

From Pinos Altos we hightailed it back to Escapees Dream Catcher RV Park. The park doesn't have cable, but there is a clubhouse with a high definition TV with cable. We settled in there to watch "The Amazing Race." I didn't even fall asleep. Love that show!

Now I am falling asleep over the computer as I write this. Must get sleep. Good night.


  1. You packed a lot into your flash drive. I really like those arches with murals.

    1. Those are the kind of days we like, Erin, lots to see.

      I was particularly taken with the mural arches. When I first saw them we were driving by on the main street of old town. They were on a side street. To get back to them we had to go around a few blocks on one-way streets and find them again.

  2. WOW....what a huge day! We hiked the City of Rocks. Lots of beauty there. We missed Silver City. Looks great. Thanks for the tour.

    1. The only part about our Silver City visit we didn't like was that it was Sunday and the Visitor Center and most of the art galleries and boutiques were closed.

  3. Looks like you've covered lots of ground so far! Thanks for sharing your latest adventures.

  4. I second Paul and Marsha - really BIG day. I am just green with envy. I SO want to get to New Mexico and spend A LOT of time there. Your fabulous pictures of the City of Rocks makes me all the more anxious. thanks for this post.

    1. If we were going to camp at City of Rocks park, we'd want a site with electric and water. There are a limited number of sites with E/W hookups; other than those, the remainder of the sites are for boondocking.

  5. It's just as well you postponed visiting the Gila Cliff Dwellings, it's a long drive and interesting enough to spend most of a day. We'll be spending a week in Silver City the first week in April, can't wait to get back and see the sights! Thanks for sharing!

    1. We figured Gila Cliff Dwellings would be way too much to all to our already activity-laden day. Thanks for the info on how much time to allow. It will be a while before we head back that way.


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