Dripping Springs Trail, Las Cruces, NM

Las Cruces, NM

We’ve been moving across the country fairly quickly after leaving Florida on January 1st, so we decided to slow down a bit and explore the area around Las Cruces.  With that in mind we settled in for a week at Coachlight Motel and RV Park.  The park is a little short on aesthetics, but is just what we need for our stay in this area.

Coachlight Motel and RV Park

Just ten miles east of Las Cruces is a rugged mountain range named the Organ Mountains.  In 2014 the area was included in the newly designated Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.

In one area of the Monument is a small visitor center where you can park and hike up to see the remains of a hotel and sanatorium operated in the early 1900s.  We parked there and hiked the two mile trail up to the ruins.

The nimble hiker is back in her element!

The area right at the base of the mountains is known as Dripping Springs, named for the waterfall fed by a mountain stream.   The people who constructed the hotel built a retaining wall at the base of the waterfall to create a small pool that provided water to the hotel.  The pool is now filled in with dirt but you can see the retaining wall in the photo below.

The hotel built at the site was named Van Patten’s Mountain Camp.  In the late 1800’s, Col. Van Patten, a former Confederate army officer, began construction of the camp.  A stage line from Las Cruces, 17 miles away, would carry guests by stagecoach along the rocky path up to the hotel itself.  In early 1900’s, guests arrived at the hotel by automobile, as well as, by horse and wagon.

The site of the resort is tucked into the rocky peaks at an elevation of 6,000 feet
(which is 2000 feet higher than Las Cruces). In its heyday, the luxurious resort
boasted 2 stories and 14 rooms, dining and recreational facilities, and a gazebo that
functioned as a bandstand.  Many famous people, such Pat Garret and Pancho Villa, stayed  in the hotel

Not much remains of the hotel.  In the old photo above you can see a building on the right with two windows on the second floor.  Below is the remains of that building.

The main section of the hotel is on the left of the old photo.  Below is all that remains of that part of the building today.

In 1915, Col. Van Patten came into financial difficulties. The hotel was closed and
the resort sold to Dr. Nathan Boyd, who turned the hotel into a tuberculosis sanatorium.  Extra buildings were constructed to house some of the patients.

Sanatorium buildings

Lunch with a view on the return hike

The hike up to Van Patten’s Camp was a great re-introduction to hiking for us.  There are a number of other places we plan to explore during our stay in the Las Cruces area.  More on those later . . .

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17 Responses to Dripping Springs Trail, Las Cruces, NM

  1. Gerri Jones says:

    Wow!! How interesting!! It’s always a little erie to see the skeletons of buildings that once housed life. History…..I love history!!
    Nice view for lunch!!

  2. Jeff says:

    YEA! Lunch with a view is back!!! And thanks for the informative hike info

  3. geogypsy2u says:

    Welcome back to the west and lunch with a view. Never even heard of this national monument.

  4. Gay says:

    Love the lunch view! We usually zip on by Las Cruces…looks like we need to take another look!

  5. Sherry says:

    Love the nimble hiker’s joy. I’d never heard of this monument either. Looks like a wonderful hike.

  6. Jim and Barb says:

    You are getting closer! We leave Quartzsite late next week and head to the Tucson area where we will be for about a month.

  7. Maxxtrails says:

    I’m happy that the weather is finally warming up and I see more hiking in out future as well 😊

  8. pmbweaver says:

    Yep, a good starter hike for the nimble hikers. We enjoyed the beauty of the area too.

  9. There is a lot of good hiking around the Las Cruces area. We have fond memories of that trail. On Dec 30, 2008 it is where we got a call from the realtor that the sale of our house had closed and we were no longer homeowners. What a great feeling!

  10. Woohoo…mountains! Glad to have you guys back in the West!

  11. girlonahike says:

    Oh my gosh, this is the trail I did when I was really little!!! I still remember it. There’s a cave around there too. Maybe they blocked it off now? Ahh the memories!

    Alicia @ http://www.GirlonaHike.com

  12. Jodee Gravel says:

    The base of those beautiful mountains was sure a perfect spot for a hotel! Love the comparison to the old photo, makes it so easy to make the connection from the past. So glad the area has been protected for the future. Love the lunch view – missed them :-))))

  13. That lady on the trail seemed to shout “watch out I’m back!” You look so happy. Welcome back to the west. Hope to see you soon in Tucson

  14. LuAnn says:

    Welcome to the west once again! You do certainly look in your element!

  15. Laurel says:

    Back to hiking, YAY!!! I understand the feeling well. We always feel the same when we return to the West after a winter in Florida.

  16. Debbie L says:

    What a great place to catch up with yourselves! It’s always sad to see something that was once so beautiful and vibrant turn to ruins…but how nice it was reconfigured as a sanitarium….What a great location! Just the sight of the mountains makes me breathe easier! Know it must feel good to be back!

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