dripping springs natural area trail organ mountains desert peak national park

An Afternoon at Dripping Springs Natural Area

For the past three years, my parents have made the trip down to El Paso, Texas to visit my fiance and I. Every time they have come, they are just amazed at how beautiful the scenery is here and I do not disagree. I am lucky enough to live amongst the desert life and different mountain ranges. While some people would say El Paso doesn’t have a lot to offer, I say you’re not exploring enough.

The City of El Paso does have its limitations when it comes to adventure and entertainment, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay within the city limits to find something to do. If you broaden your horizon, you’ll find that this region of the nation has so much to offer like Dripping Springs Natural Area.

Dripping Springs Natural Area is about a 45-50 minute easy drive from the west side of El Paso and is just about ten miles from the heart of Las Cruces. The drive up the winding road to the base of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peak National Park is breathtaking enough.

dripping springs natural area organ mountains desert peak national park

We went on a day that didn’t have beautiful, clear skies like most days in the Southwest. It was an overcast, chilly day, but honestly, it turned out to be perfect hiking weather. We almost didn’t go because we were hesitant about the weather. I’m so glad we didn’t ax the idea.

When we arrived, we pulled up to a modest parking lot and went into the visitors center. There is no admission to the park itself, however, you are required to pay a parking fee of $5.00 per vehicle. Not horrible at all! Plus, you’re paying to help maintain the area which I totally support.

There are multiple trails to trek that vary in distance. We chose to do the Dripping Springs Trail because it seemed the most interesting. The trail is 2.7 miles and is an elevation of 413 feet (Info from alltrails.com). The hike was beautiful and there are so many photo opportunities. It is not a super strenuous hike either. You walk up a gradual incline, but it is never steep. Just keep in mind to wear appropriate clothing, shoes, and bring some water. Also, keep in mind that you’re walking mostly on loose gravel, so taking you’re time going up and down is important so you don’t injure yourself.

The reason we chose this trail was in the loop of it was an old, abandoned sanatorium and the ruins of an old camp resort The Boyd Sanitorium was constructed back in the early 1900s and treated people with tuberculosis. The Van Patten Mountain Camp was a getaway resort that was built in the late 1800s. The history of these two sites was really interesting considering they were so off the beaten path. Now, it’s very much a ghost town feel and nothing but crumbling old buildings, but still worth the hike to see. The sight of the Organ Mountains that close up was breathtaking, too.

This is definitely a must do if you ever find yourself in far west Texas or New Mexico. We didn’t do all of the trails since Dripping Springs Trail took about two hours and left us pretty tired as is. I do plan on revisiting the park again to do the other trails and even possibly this one again.

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Want to learn more about Dripping Springs Natural Area? Visit the official website.

Let me know if you have visited this beautiful place below in the comments.

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My Trip to Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Oh, the places you will go! I took a fun trip with my parents who flew into town this past Monday to Carlsbad Caverns National Park in White City, New Mexico. 

Our day started with a three hour drive (8:30 am) from El Paso, TX along a long desert highway that weaved through the beautiful Guadalupe Mountains National Park. We didn’t stop and get out of the car but the scenic drive was impressive enough.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park New Mexico
After a lot of complaining about how long the drive was and a misleading mileage road sign, we finally winded our way up to the welcome center on top of a mountain ridge at around 11:30 am. 

Carlsbad Caverns National Park New Mexico
Let me tell you once we actually started our descend into the cave, the long drive was well worth it. 

[General admission for adults is $10.00. Children, seniors, military, and pass holders I know had discounted ticket prices. I’d refer to the website for more information on this.] 

Since we went on a weekday, the crowds were not bad. I recommend avoiding the weekends if possible. Also, get there toward the morning or early afternoon hours aka before noon. Why? Because while you can take the elevator down into the cave, you’re given the option to walk down into it which is the BEST part of the whole experience/cavern. We did this and I would do it again! Just keep in mind that the park does not allow people to walk down after 2:30 pm. Hence, the arriving early tip. It is a long trek down, but you get to appreciate it a whole lot more.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park New Mexico Carlsbad Caverns National Park New Mexico
The top picture above is where you enter the cave if you walk down and the second picture is the path winds down and deep into the dark abyss. I honestly thought it wouldn’t be a long walk down, but it took us easily 45 minutes and just when you think you’ve reached the bottom, there’s more! Make sure you have a good pair of sneakers because the pavement can be steep and slick. Also, bring a jacket because it can be chilly. You are in a cave underground after all!

The walk down was a little strenuous and did make me rethink the idea of walking back out (by the way, walking back up is totally doable as long as you’re in good health and take your time). It was neat though and gave you a new perspective of how far down the cave really went. 


By the time we reached the bottom of the cave, which is huge, I was a little tired and almost didn’t need my jacket honestly. I worked up a sweat! At the bottom of is the “main room” that can easily take another 45 minutes to an hour to tour. It all depends on how fast you walk, stop to look at things, or how crowded it is. We did a self guided tour, by the way. No guide, no audio. You really don’t need anyone telling you what to look at or the small facts here and there via a listening device. There are plaques all throughout that explain major visual points, but if you want a more detailed or educational experience I guess I would recommended a non-self guided tour. 

There’s a lot to explore and gaze at once you’re in the main part. It was amazing to see how the cave has been formed over the years and how it continues to mold itself. There are parts of the cave that haven’t been developed yet and go on for miles, but is not open to the public. It’s hard to put into words how impressive it all is. It’s definitely something you need to experience in person at least once.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park New Mexico Carlsbad Caverns National Park New Mexico
After all the walking and gawking, you can decide to be the daring soul to climb back out of it. We saw several people doing this (all huffing and puffing I might add). If you’re up for it, do it! We took the elevator which was ten times faster. There was a line, but it was short. I’ve heard the line during busy days and seasons can get really long. Plan ahead for this! Keep in mind the elevator can only hold 8 people at a time. 

And of course, it wouldn’t be a true adventure if it didn’t lead you into a gift shop of sorts at the end. There are two gift shops in the visitor center and a little cafeteria. Actually, there’s a cold foods cafeteria in the cave along with bathrooms, too. We didn’t use or check this out, but the option is there to eat below the surface in dim light if you need a snack. 

[Another fun fact about this particular cave: you can watch the bats fly out. We weren’t there at the right time for this, but it seemed like a fun thing to do if it fit your schedule.]

By the time all was said and done, we left about 1:30 pm. It is time consuming, but totally worth visiting! I have been to two other caves in the US in the past and hands down this one if my favorite. The fact that you get to walk into it by yourself is what makes this place super unique.

Go add this to your travel list, bucket list, etc.

Note: Like all national parks, please be respectful of the grounds. The only way these places can continue to be preserved for many more years to come is by following the rules and restrictions that are stated by the park. 

You can find all more information about pricing, directions, hours of operation, guidelines, FAQs, and more at https://www.nps.gov/cave/index.htm.

Have you been to Carlsbad Caverns? What did you think? Or what National Park that you have visited has been your favorite? Tell me I’m the comments below.