Thursday, July 15, 2021

Dripping Springs, Organ Mountains - New Mexico

In December 2018 we got our first view of the Organ Mountains as we drove through Las Cruces on our way to El Paso. They were snow covered and gorgeous. Sam, who was with us, commented that he'd done some climbing in the Organ Mountains.  
The Organ Mountains from a road-side roadunner statue outside Las Cruces in December 2018. 
A photo from the far side of Las Cruces.

A photo from much closer. 
In July 2021 we visited Las Cruces as part of a visit to New Mexico. We had a hike to Dripping Springs in the Organ Mountains as part of our agenda. 
The 496,000 acre (775 square mile) Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument was established in 2014 by President Obama. It includes the Organ Mountains, Desert Peaks, Potrillo Mountains and Dona Ana Mountains. The Organ Mountains are in three sections. The north is the beautiful Needles section with Organ Needle the high point at 8,990 feet. They look like organ pipes and give the range its name. South of the Needles section is the bulk of the range, cut in half by Soledad Canyon. The third section, consisting of the Bishop's Cap Hills and Rattlesnake Ridge (which is entirely in Fort Bliss), is smaller and lower in elevation. 

Dripping Springs is part of the second, central section, of the Organ Mountains. The hike in is a 3 mile roundtrip that features a waterfall. 

In the late 1800s until 1915 there was a mountain resort called Dripping Springs Resort run by Major Eugene Van Patten at about 6,000 feet. It originally had 14 rooms and was expanded in 1906 by 18 rooms. Before the resort was a livery stable which serviced the hotel. It was there that wagons unloaded supplies, horses were watered, chickens and a vegetable garden were kept. In 1892 a dam was built to catch the water from the spring for the use of the hotel and below the dam was a pond which no longer exists. 

We hiked in Saturday morning, July 3rd, and were the first people on the trail about 6:50 (it was supposed to open at 7:00 a.m.) and the first people to get to the spring. At the livery stables, among trees, we encountered four or five deer. 

Just a little beyond is the spring. It still had a nice flow while we were there, but the pond is no longer there. It is an important source of water for the wildlife in that part of the mountains. 

We did not go the extra bit of distance to see the old hotel. 

On the way back down to the trailhead and to our car we encountered four gemsbok, African antelope brought to Mexico about 50 years ago to provide big game opportunities for New Mexican hunters. I could hardly believe my eyes. 

At the ranger station at the trailhead they have several humming bird feeders that were being actively used by lots of hummingbirds. I didn't get any good photos, but the one below is of a broad-trailed hummingbird that I've never seen before. 


  1. These are some of the most beautiful mountains I've ever seen. They remind me of pictures I have seen of the Dolomites. The magic was made complete by the sightings of first the deer and then, unbelievably, the gemsbok.

  2. Very nice mountain range, I have never heard of them before.