Alamogordo is a small, friendly city in the Tularosa Basin in Southern New Mexico. The city is flanked by White Sands National Monument and White Sands Missile Range on the west and the Sacramento Mountains on the east. The proximity to the missile range has caused the city and surrounding area to have quite a few interesting attractions related to science and space, including the New Mexico Museum of Space and the White Sands Missile Range Museum. For those who love the outdoors, there are a number of beautiful natural sights to explore in both the desert and the mountains, including Lincoln National Forest, Grindstone Lake, and the massive sand dunes at White Sands National Monument. A number of other attractions and interesting features make Alamogordo an attractive vacation destination.
1.White Sands National Monument
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White Sands National Monument is a unique preserved area containing the largest gypsum sand dune field in the world. Massive sand dunes that resemble ocean waves cover 275 square miles of New Mexico’s desert. Much of the sand dune field is contained within the National Monument. The park also provides an opportunity to see the unique plants and animals that call the area home. Other activities include camping in the backcountry, bicycling, driving the scenic drive, hiking, horseback riding and more. White Sands Missile Range also occupies the area and conducts regularly scheduled missile tests. Dunes Drive, which is the only way to access the dune field, may be closed for several hours with as little as a day’s notice so check for road closures before driving in.
2.New Mexico Museum of Space
© New Mexico Museum of Space
The New Mexico Museum of Space History is a Smithsonian-affiliated complex containing a museum and planetarium. The museum was created to preserve and display artifacts and exhibits related to the space age and the history of space flight. The museum consists of one main building, several outbuildings, and outdoor exhibits. The main museum has exhibits about the Solar System, the history of space flight, and the primates that were sent to space on early missions. Nearby there is an IMAX Theater and Planetarium that screens daily films. The outdoor area has a number of larger items on display including a memorial to the astronauts in the Challenger and Columbia space disasters, the burial site of the first chimpanzee in space, and Sonic Wind No. 1 rocket sled.
3198 State Route 2001, Alamogordo, NM 88310, Phone: 575-437-2840
3.Alameda Park Zoo
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Alameda Park Zoo was built in 1898 and boasts that it is the oldest zoo in the American Southwest. The zoo is very involved in conservation efforts, making it a zoo you can feel good about visiting. For example, they are participants in the Species Survival Plan for the Mexican wolf, and they also help mend injured birds of prey, many of which are later released to the wild. There are a number of other species that call the zoo home, including the Hawaiian goose, the Markhor goat, and White Sands pupfish. The lemur exhibit is also quite popular. It’s debatable whether or not the zoo is the oldest in the southwest, but either way a day at the zoo makes for a great day out in Alamagordo.
1321 N. White Sands Blvd., Alamogordo, NM 88310, Phone: 575-439-4290
4.The Toy Train Depot
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The Toy Train Depot is a model train museum and toy store that operates in a retired train depot that was used as far back as 1898. The interesting building still retains features of the original train depot such as the dispatcher’s window and the stamped tin ceiling. The museum has a variety of scale models of passenger trains, locomotives, and freight cars. America’s Park Ride Train Museum is also located at the same site and operates a narrow gauge railway, offering rides to museum guests for a small fee. In addition to the models, the museum also contains historical railroad artifacts, equipment, and train-related ephemera.
1991 N. White Sands Blvd., Alamogordo, NM 88310, Phone: 575-437-2855
5.Tularosa Basin Museum of History
© Tularosa Basin Museum of History
The Tularosa Basin Museum of History is a history museum that is owned and maintained by the Tularosa Basin Historical Society. The museum’s collection contains artifacts, documents, and personal items from local history. Items on display include a bison trophy head, prehistoric native American artifacts, more than 3,000 historical photographs, and a pottery collection from La Luz Pottery Factory. The most prized item in the museum is an extremely rare 47-star US Flag. The flag was not an official US state flag and is thought to have been created to celebrate the entry of New Mexico into the United States.
1004 N. White Sands Blvd., Alamogordo, NM 88310, Phone: 575-434-4438
6.White Sands Missile Range Museum
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White Sands Missile Range Museum has displays related to the history of America’s missile and space activity. The works of various accomplished scientists are showcased, including that of Dr. Clyde Tombaugh and Dr. Wernher von Braun. On the outside of the museum is a missile park which has more than 50 missiles and rockets that have been tested at the White Sands Missile Range. Many of the missiles are pointed skyward, which gives visitors the impression that they are ready to be fired. The museum is located within an operational military compound, which means you will need to be prepared to go through security.
Wsmr P Rt. 1, White Sands Missile Range, NM 88002, Phone: 575-678-2250
7.Oliver Lee Memorial State Park
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Oliver Lee Memorial State Park is a state that preserves the 19th century ranch house that belonged to Oliver Lee as well as a canyon through the Sacramento Mountains. The park offers a wide variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, viewing wildlife, nature walks, touring the ranch house, and more. One of the most popular trails in the park is the Dog Canyon National Recreational Trail, which starts at the visitor center and covers a distance of 5.5 miles, climbing more than 3,000 feet up the canyon wall. Those who hike the trail will be able to enjoy gorgeous views of the Organ Mountains and the Tularosa Basin.
409 Dog Canyon Road, Alamogordo, NM 88310, Phone: 575-437-8284
8.Heart of the Desert/Eagle Ranch Pistachios Farm Tour
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Heart of the Desert/Eagle Ranch Pistachio Farm is known for their award winning, homemade pistachios. The popular pistachio brand is based at Eagle Ranch, which is a self-contained pistachio farm and production facility. The farm offers free guided tours. Guests will have the chance to learn how the pistachios are grown and processed. Tour groups travel by foot through the farm, and the tour takes approximately 45 minutes. They are wheelchair accessible, giving a greater number of people a chance to attend the tours. During the tour you will visit the processing plant, the pistachio field, and the packaging and shipping areas, giving you a full overview of the process.
7288 US-54, Alamogordo, NM 88310, Phone: 575-434-0035
9.International Space Hall of Fame
© International Space Hall of Fame
The International Space Hall of Fame honors those individuals who have put forth effort, imagination, and hard work into advancing our knowledge of the universe and space exploration. The program began in 1976 and is the only institution that recognizes both men and women from around the world who have played a significant role in space exploration. Some prominent individuals who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame include Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Yuri Gagarin, and Sir Isaac Newton. The Hall of Fame is part of the New Mexico Museum of Space History, which contains other interesting exhibits related to space exploration.
3198 State Route 2001, Alamogordo, NM 88310, Phone: 575-437-0318
10.Shroud Exhibit and Museum
© Shroud Exhibit and Museum
The Shroud Exhibit and Museum923 New York Avenue, Alamogordo, New Mexico 88310, Phone: 575-415-5206
11.Desert Foothills Park
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Desert Foothills Park is a facility on the outskirts of the National forest and the foothills of the Sacramento Mountains. The park has a number of trails with both paved and dirt paths available. There is a roofed picnic area that can be used for cookouts and picnics and there are bathrooms on site as well. A number of easy walking, jogging, and biking loops can be composed within the park. For a nicer hike, take a walk through the park and then exit across the bridge to the Goat Springs Trail. A number of other hiking trails are accessible from the park, making it a great jumping-off point for those looking to explore the foothills.
2510 E. 1st Street, Alamogordo, NM 88310
12.Lincoln National Forest
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The Lincoln National Forest is a forest preserve near Alamogordo, which contains more than 1.1 million acres of forested lands spanning from near the Texas border through several counties in New Mexico. The park has land on four mountain ranges and features a number of different environments and wildlife habitats. The national forest is a popular year-round destination for outdoor sports and recreation. Activities include camping, hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, snowshoeing, mountain biking, and riding off-road vehicles. Winter sports enthusiasts will enjoy skiing and snowboarding at Ski Apache. There are also sledding and tubing areas and cross-country ski trails in the forest for even more winter fun.
3463 Las Palomas Road, Alamogordo, NM 88310, Phone: 575-434-7200
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13.Sacramento Mountains Museum
© Sacramento Mountains Museum
The Sacramento Mountains Museum and Pioneer Village tells the fascinating story of pioneers who came and occupied land previously inhabited by the Mescalero Apaches. Settlers came looking for a better home, more temperate weather, and more natural resources. The museum has exhibits related to the resilience of the settlers as they struggled to make a home in the West, as well as exhibits and models of Cloudcroft, the railroad, and more. The Pioneer Village provides plenty of opportunities to learn about village life during the time of the pioneers. There is also a General Store that offers a variety of souvenirs and gifts for purchase.
1000 US-82, Cloudcroft, NM 88317, Phone: 575-682-2932
14.New Mexico Rails-to-Trails
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The New Mexico Rails-to-Trails Association maintains a network of multiuse trails occupying the sites of former railroad lines. There are several trails within the network with skill levels ranging from easy to moderate. For those who are looking for an easy hike, try the Grand View Trail, which offers a relaxing hike through piñon and juniper forests. These are especially beautiful in fall, spring and winter. You can do it as an out and back hike or a 1.7-mile loop. For a slightly more difficult hike check out the Salado Canyon Trestle Trail and Bridal Veil Falls Trail, which share a trailhead, making them easy to combine. For even more of a challenge, try out Switchback Trail and Trestle & Crossover Trail.
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Grindstone Stables in Ruidoso near Alamogordo offers a one-hour horseback ride experience. Each ride is led by a trained and experienced guide to give you an amazing and safe experience. The trip passes by Grindstone Lake and then ascends to the top of Townsend Ridge. In total, the trip is about three miles long and includes plenty of chances to take beautiful photos of the scenery and to see wildlife. The trailride welcomes all ages and children ages five and up ride by themselves. Children under five ride free of charge as long as they can fit in the saddle with an adult in their group, making a ride at Grindstone a great option for a family outing.
523 Resort Drive, Ruidoso, NM 88345, Phone: 575-257-2241
16.Ruidoso River Museum
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The Ruidoso River Museum is a museum that contains a variety of artifacts, documents, and photographs related to the Old West, including notable figures such as Billy the Kid, William Brady, Alexander McSween, and Pat Garrett. The collection of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid items is the largest in the world, making it the perfect stop for any Western lover. Some of the most significant items in the museum include the original Colt Model 1877 Thunderer revolver that was owned by Pat Garret, as well as his sheriff’s badge, made from solid gold. The museum also has Billy the Kid’s rifle on display along with a range of celebrity memorabilia and archeological artifacts.
101 Mechem Drive, Ruidoso, NM 88345, Phone: 575-257-0296
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Grindstone Lake is beautiful and secluded mountain lake and a popular destination among those that love exploring the outdoors, fishing, hiking, and biking. There is a system of trails that covers a total of 18 scenic miles on five different trails. The trails are open to a number of activities, including horseback riding, mountain biking, and hiking. The trails welcome dogs on leashes, so feel free to bring Fido along for the day. The lake is stocked with catfish, bass, and rainbow trout, and the lake allows visitors to launch non-motorized boats, making it popular for fishing. Other activities include swimming, disc golf, and wildlife viewing.
Grindstone Canyon Road, Ruidoso, NM 88345
18.Noisy Water Winery
© Noisy Water Winery
Noisy Water Winery is a winery and wine shop offering a selection of local wine and gourmet goodies. They have an interesting selection of wines, many of which are made locally in southern New Mexico. There’s also a fabulous range of gourmet cheeses and other gourmet snacks and food items. The store is a great one-stop-shop for picking up goodies for family members, friends, and yourself. Anyone back at home will certainly be grateful for whichever gifts you pick up at Noisy Water Winery, and indulging in the things you buy for yourself will have you dreaming of making another trip to Alamogordo.
2342 Sudderth Drive, Ruidoso, NM 88345, Phone: 575-257-9335
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© Plateau Espresso
Plateau Espresso is a coffee shop in the middle of Alamogordo. The shop is a popular gathering place among those looking for a hip, laid-back place to grab a cup of Joe while meeting up with friends or listening to live music. They offer a number of coffee-based drinks, including espresso beverages, cold brews, and hot brewed drinks. Some of the most popular items on the menu are the Caffe Latte, the White Chocolate Mocha, the Espresso Macchiato, and the Cappuccino. Items on the menu are priced comparably to popular nationwide coffee chains, but the experience of hanging out at this local joint is so much better.
2724 N. Scenic Drive, Alamogordo, NM 88310, Phone: 575-434-4466
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19 Best Things to Do in Alamogordo, NM
- White Sands National Monument, Photo: Courtesy of sianamira - Fotolia.com
- New Mexico Museum of Space, Photo: New Mexico Museum of Space
- Alameda Park Zoo, Photo: Courtesy of TOMO - Fotolia.com
- The Toy Train Depot, Photo: Courtesy of nikirov - Fotolia.com
- Tularosa Basin Museum of History, Photo: Tularosa Basin Museum of History
- White Sands Missile Range Museum, Photo: Courtesy of Zack Frank - Fotolia.com
- Oliver Lee Memorial State Park, Photo: Courtesy of Laurens - Fotolia.com
- Heart of the Desert/Eagle Ranch Pistachios Farm Tour, Photo: Courtesy of vikakurylo81 - Fotolia.com
- International Space Hall of Fame, Photo: International Space Hall of Fame
- Shroud Exhibit and Museum, Photo: Shroud Exhibit and Museum
- Desert Foothills Park, Photo: Courtesy of Laurens - Fotolia.com
- Lincoln National Forest, Photo: Courtesy of Chris - Fotolia.com
- Sacramento Mountains Museum, Photo: Sacramento Mountains Museum
- New Mexico Rails-to-Trails, Photo: Courtesy of Jeff Schultes - Fotolia.com
- Grindstone Stables , Photo: Courtesy of MelvinL - Fotolia.com
- Ruidoso River Museum, Photo: Courtesy of Christian Simon - Fotolia.com
- Grindstone Lake, Photo: Courtesy of gatito33 - Fotolia.com
- Noisy Water Winery, Photo: Noisy Water Winery
- Plateau Espresso, Photo: Plateau Espresso
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of brent_1 - Fotolia.com