Southern New Mexico/West Texas Road Trip

Posted by

For our kids’ spring break, we had planned an RV road trip across West Texas to New Mexico. But, as luck would have it, the RV rental was not working. Instead, we hopped into my Nissan Pathfinder and set out on the journey. The kids were totally disappointed the RV wasn’t available but, in the end, it all worked out. You just have to roll with it, maybe that was the lesson the trip.

I was happy the kids were finally getting a trip after being locked down for over a year from the Covid pandemic.

This was my first time in Southern New Mexico, although I’d been to the Sante Fe decades ago. I have good memories of the area and the state.

As we were driving across West Texas, which I consider one of the most god-forsaken dystopian areas in the USA (on the ugly side with all the oil well pump jacks), we hit a giant dust storm. It was something else – a giant blanket of red hue filled the sky, visibility was very low. We had to slow down and drive until we got out of it.

We spent the first night in Roswell, New Mexico, which is famous for being one of the first places in the USA where “aliens” supposedly landed. I could care less whether it was true or not, it’s just fun pretending that is is true. The entire town goes all in on the alien themes, even some the fast food restaurants are designed with space ship/alien themes. The UFO Museum was about what you expect – and it was a fun place to visit for a day.

We then ventured into Ruidoso, New Mexico, where we rented a cabin for three nights. The area driving into Ruidoso was pretty – rolling hills and valleys – the kind of scenery you think of when you hear “Southwest USA”. Ruidoso was ok enough, a bit touristy and too many people. We found interesting things to do every day from hikes to snow tire sledding.

We then hit up White Sands National Park, which is about an hour south of Ruidoso. That was the highlight of the trip for me and I think the kids, too. I really loved that place. A giant white sand mecca with stunning vistas. The magic hour sunset was incredible.

The next day, we drove through the small mountain town of Cloudcroft, which I wished we had spent some time seeing instead of driving through so quickly. I visually liked that area much better than Ruidoso (less touristy and over populated).

We ended the trip going to Carlsbad Caverns National Park, a place I’ve wanted to visit my entire life. Like so many other things, it wasn’t easy to get to. It’s way out in the middle of a desert with nothing around. We got lucky getting reservations given the Covid limitations and due to limited capacity, it was almost like getting a private tour/visit of the caverns, something that’ll probably never happen again post-Covid. It was really cool to see and visually impressive – lots of walking inside as the caverns are massive. I wished I’d just taken the elevator down instead of the long walk at the cave entrance.