Alamogordo & Around
Despite a dearth of amenities, Alamogordo (Spanish for 'fat cottonwood tree') is the center of an important space and atomic research program. Most of its sights are child-oriented, but any adult who’s young at heart will enjoy them too. You can also check out two tiny towns nearby, the art outpost of La Luz and pretty little Tularosa.
Previously a remote and sleepy ranching town, Carlsbad received a huge boost in 1923, when Carlsbad Caverns, a 25-mile drive southwest, became a national monument. Now elevated to national park status, the caverns continue to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Carlsbad itself, however, currently has other things on its mind.
Cloudcroft & Around
Nestled almost 2 miles up in the mountains east of Alamogordo, Cloudcroft makes a pleasant escape year-round. In winter there's snow tubing and snowmobiling across powder-soaked meadows. In summer, Cloudcroft offers refreshing respite from the desert heat, plus awesome hiking and biking.
Fans of Western history won't want to miss little Lincoln. Twelve miles east of Capitan along the Billy the Kid National Scenic Byway, this is where the gun battle that turned Billy the Kid into a legend took place. It's hard to believe that in Billy the Kid's era Lincoln was home to a bustling population of nearly 900.
The little town of Carrizozo sits where the Sacramento Mountains hit the Tularosa Basin. Art galleries and antiques shops line historic 12th St, downtown's main axis, a block east of modern Hwy 54. Unfortunately, though, cafes open and close here with a sad inevitability; at the time of research, there was nowhere to recommend either to eat or stay.
White Sands National Monument
Undulating through the Tularosa Basin like something out of a dream, these ethereal dunes are a highlight of any trip to New Mexico, and a must on every landscape photographer's itinerary. Try to time a visit to White Sands with sunrise or sunset (or both), when the dazzlingly white sea of sand is at its most magical.