Scenic Qualities

Organ Mts-Rabbit Ears with Snow-McKeeThe quartz monzonite spires of the Organ Needles provide the most spectacular scenery in southern New Mexico, a view that the more than 100,000 inhabitants of Las Cruces see daily. A 9,000-acre portion of the Organs has been designated as a Scenic ACEC. The Organ Needles are massive spires of almost barren rock cleft with narrow chasms containing ribbons of green oak trees. Huge boulders are found resting along the base of spires. The complex also contains canyons of angular blocky rock outcrops arranged in pyramidal patterns, red rhyolite cliffs, and bands of mountain mahogany nestled deep in vertical crevices between white ridges of volcanic tuff. During the summer growing season, the hills are washed in a bright green hue from the thick carpet of grasses. The scenic resources of the Organs are important to the vast majority of Las Cruces residents, most of which are of the opinion that they should be protected and preserved. The Organs provide a source of considerable civic pride for the residents of Las Cruces. Outstanding recreational opportunities include hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, birding, and nature photography. Rock climbing in the Organs is well known and nationally significant. The Baylor Pass and Pine Tree National Recreation Trails are found within the complex, as are a series of hiking trails near Dripping Springs National Recreation Area.

Sierra de Las Uvas-Sunset by Lisa MandelkernScenic quality is exceptionally high within the Sierra de las Uvas Mountains Complex. Expansive vistas of the wild landscape are afforded from the mountaintops and ridges, while dramatic cliffs, ‘box’ canyons, and other impressive geologic features can be found throughout the complex. In addition, the Robledo Mountains are an important scenic view-shed for the people living in and traveling through the Rio Grande Valley to the east. Though relatively close to Las Cruces, the nature and degree of human impacts in the Robledo Mountains – Sierra de las Uvas complex are quite minimal. Affected primarily by the forces of nature, the landscape here has retained its wild character and influence. Rugged terrain and large size also contribute to exceptional opportunities for visitors to enjoy a primitive wilderness experience. Recreational opportunities in the complex are numerous. The varied volcanic, igneous, and sedimentary outcrops create outstanding opportunities for geological sight seeing as well as mountain and rock climbing, and dayhiking. Parts of the complex have open terrain leading to lonely mesas that provide excellent opportunities for backpacking and horseback riding. The varied features of the complex and the high quality of southern New Mexico sunlight, particularly at sunrise and sunset, provide outstanding opportunities for outdoor photography.

Mount Cox by Charlie KennedyIn the Greater Potrillo Mountain Complex, isolated mountains and unique volcanic landscapes provide a wild beauty unlike any other. The seldom traveled peaks of Mount Riley and Cox Peak’s remind the visitor of the true remoteness and isolation of the area. As one gains elevation, range after range appears on the horizon, jutting up out of vast valleys in the distance.