Author Topic: El Paso/ White Sands National Park / New Mexico Trip Report coming up  (Read 910 times)

Offline jose34

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Re: El Paso/ White Sands National Park / New Mexico Trip Report coming up
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2024, 12:04:20 AM »
היכונו!
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Offline jose34

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Re: El Paso/ White Sands National Park / New Mexico Trip Report coming up
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2024, 01:09:40 AM »
Planning:

Goal was to visit White Sands National Park. We needed to find other things to do as well in order to a make it a real vacation. Splitting this into two parts, what actually did and other ideas of things we could have done including places we could have stayed.
We booked tickets to El Paso (ELP) arriving Monday evening and leaving Thursday morning on Southwest through Denver.

Lounges in Denver:

As a side point Priority Pass has to two great restaurants which you can spend $27 per person  with up to two guests.
Restaurant One – Mercantile – right at the entrance to A gates – Go up escalators and your there. Has good kosher snacks including some good  healthy juices
  Restaurant Two – Sweet Water Tap in the B a gates is quite a hike, at least 10 minutes,  is and is all the way near gates 80, has some drinks and some Chummas and pretzels.


First night we landed, rented a car with Avis and drove to the hotel. We stayed at the Holiday Inn El Paso West.  20,000  - IHG Points. (https://www.ihg.com/holidayinnexpress/hotels/us/en/el-paso/elpac/hoteldetail?cm_mmc=GoogleMaps-_-EX-_-US-_-ELPAC)
We chose this hotel due to the reviews and the selection of a having a sofa bed. This hotel was recently redone and in fact the pool is not yet finished, it will be finished within the next month or so. Hotel had a good mix of business travels and families. Safe area. Free breakfast option however not much unless your eat OU-D. Walmart is around the corner. 10 minutes from Chabad.

Tuesday Morning:
We headed out to the White Sands National Park. On the way we stopped by the New Mexico Farm Museum – we also most forgot about it except we saw a sign on the highway about it.  (https://www.nmfarmandranchmuseum.org/?doing_wp_cron=1707019503.2696039676666259765625)
Museum was an interesting place if you like animals and history. It’s an active farm and has many animals like sheep, cows etc…
Has exhibits on milking cows, different kinds of sheep as well as a whole indoor room on history of the  region ( Atomic bomb)  and the history of farming back back in the 1800’s and early 1900’s. As well as small cute kids area.
This was a perfect stop along the way.

Distance – El Paso to Farm Museum around a ½ hour.
Farm Museum to White Sands National Park – 1 hour.

White Sands National Park:

We got there paid the entrance of fee of $25 drove around and wondered what there is to do.
However after a few minutes we got out of the car and we did the:
Interdune Boardwalk – a small boardwalk walk that walks in between sand dunes, some nice views.
Hung around the dunes by the Primrose Picnic Area – there are places to make a BBQ and we wanted to make one but we forgot lighter fluid. These areas are great area to walk around and play in the sand. It was in this area we spent most of our time.
Dune Life Nature Trail – we did this around sunset , it is not so much of a trail actually but some wide areas marked as trail with markers. There are interesting things along the way, took us about 45 minutes. Was worth it.
Some things about the park:
    1.Sand does not stick to you like sand near the ocean does, the sand comes right off.
            2. The sand was cooler then the outdoor temperature. We went in January but I can imagine in the summer the sand can be really hot.
       3. The sand was lot of fun, they recommend buying something to slide down the sand with and you can if you want but you can slide down yourself without it just involves the physical act of using your arms to propel yourself down.
       4. If you have little kids (we came with a 3 year old) you may want to bring some tools to play in the sand with.
       5. There is no water in the park.
            6. To clean out your car after in nearby Alamogordo there is a place called Zips that has free car vacuums, mat cleaning, towels and sprays ( to vacuum our car out after White Sands).[/li]


After that the sun set and as the park closes around sunset ( or by 6 in our case) we headed to our nearby booked hotel:
Quality Inn & Suites Near White Sands National Park in Alamogordo, NM (see below why we did not stay by other places) – paid around $100 for the room with sofa bed option. Motel Style. Hotel was newly renovated and felt safe and comfortable.   Free breakfast option no much to eat unless you eat OU-D. Walmart nearby.
Distance – White Sands to hotel- 15 minutes.

At night we tried to go out to see stars – we up route 52 to route 82 saw some but not much as there was light from below.  ( Looking through the Pamphlets, we found some information in the city of Las Cruces tourist magazine, see picture below)

Next Morning we woke up and drove to a place called the Sunspot (https://sunspot.nmsu.edu/). Located at 9500 feet, it has one of the world’s biggest telescopes which studies the sun and has indoor exhibits about the Sun one of which you can tour inside ( Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday from 12-2). There is  also a walking trail around the area and you can see the whole White Sands region. As I like driving up mountains it was worth the drive, the exhibits and views were really amazing. The air temperatures at 9500, as you can imagine is way cooler up there than in the region below.
On the next mountain over a five minute drive away there are telescopes that study the night sky and black holes.
Distance – hotel to Sunspot – a little under an hour.

Next we drove back to El Paso, on the way we stopped by a free museum, the Border Patrol Museum (https://borderpatrolmuseum.com/) was kind of cool it was quick stop.

We went the local Franklin State Park Tom Mays Area – its one of the largest state parks in the country and splits or divides El Paso. The trail we went on was the Aztec trail a rocky 1.2 mile trail that is extremely steep at the end. At the top is small cave. Intense but great hike.

We then had a BBQ in the park and almost got locked in as the park closes at 5 but B”H we got out.

Wednesday Night and Thursday morning:

Drove through downtown El Paso, saw some of the border crossings, drove alongside a border road and got within 15 feet of Mexico.
Headed back to the Holiday Inn El Paso West and Chabad for minyanim – however check the schedule as they don’t always have and back to the airport.

Things we could have done:


Hotels we could have stayed at:
El Paso – We could have stayed at the Holiday Inn El Paso Sunland Park area (https://www.ihg.com/holidayinn/hotels/us/en/el-paso/elpsl/hoteldetail?cm_mmc=GoogleMaps-_-HI-_-US-_-ELPSL)  -
Fairfield Inn & Suites El-Paso – bad reviews, seems like its old and need renovating.
Hotel White Sands National Park:
 Hotel 2 Suites by Hilton – was 40,000 Hilton points – wanted to stay there by but the time we were ready to book they were sold out for the night.
Hampton Inn and Suites -did not have  Sofa option that we needed for the little one.
Airbnb near Sunspot  - the closest we found was in Timberton – but it would have taken us an hour out of the way in each direction. In general things seem close “as the crow” flies but there are not many direct roads so things end of being longer is actual driving distance.

These things that just a little too far for us to drive to:
West of El Paso:
Gila National Forest - around 3 hours west of El Paso. Has amazing night views of the solar system due to little light pollution. Has some ancient caves you can climb into.
Rock State Park- near Gila National Forest. Near Silver City.
If your around this area according to my research don’t stay in Hampton Inn Deming, NM bad reviews.
East of El Paso:
Carlsbad Caverns – 2 hours east of El Paso.
Guadeloupe Mountains ( easy trail - Smith Spring)
If we would went this route we probably would have stayed by the Hampton Inn & Suites Artesia.
South of El Paso:
Big Bend National Park in Texas – 4 hour South of El Paso.

In El Paso itself :

If you itching to get close to Mexico but don’t want to go into Mexico you can visit the
Chamizal National Memorial (https://www.nps.gov/cham/learn/index.htm)
Things we just did not do but near where we were:
Pistachio Land – near White Sands.
Oliver Lee State Park – between Sunspot and El Paso.
Browsing this after we came back but do look at the Las Cruces visitor guide before you go:
https://assets.simpleviewinc.com/simpleview/image/upload/v1/clients/lascrucesnm/VLC_VisitorsGuide_Digital_677e5c22-6069-4ae5-963d-5fdcd7a68fd1.pdf





IHG El Paso West Hotel:





New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum:











White Sands Area:






Sunspot:












Franklin Mountain: