There’s no better time to explore the Mesilla Valley than fall, with cooler weather drawing us back outdoors and the aroma of roasting green chile in the air. All September, Monuments to Main Street (M2M) is offering a wealth of special excursions and activities, as well as highlighting long-standing celebrations like the Hatch Chile Festival, the White Sands Hot Air Invitational Balloon Festival, and the Diez y Seis de Septiembre commemoration in Mesilla.
Now in its third year, M2M has even more excursions, including a bikepacking campout, jeep tours into the Organ Mountains–Desert Peaks National Monument, a Panoramic Peaks tour in the Sierra de las Uvas, a hike of Picacho Peak, and a tour of Slot Canyon, along with returning favorites such as the Old West stagecoach ride, aerial tours of the Mesilla Valley and World War II bombardier training sites, and river rafting excursions.
M2M officially kicks off with a celebration at Klein Park at 155 N. Mesquite Street Saturday, September 8, from 4pm to 9pm, with music by Phat Soul, folklorico dancing, stagecoach rides, an arts and farmers market, Chocolate on the Camino Real Trail, and the “What’s Your Las Cruces?” oral history project. A week of activities will already have taken place by then, including the Hatch Chile Festival and the Harvest Wine Festival, and outings such as hikes, aerial tours, river rafting, yoga at Dripping Springs, and a bicycle ride to the monument.
Excursions are offered by a variety of groups, including New Mexico Wild, the Friends of the Organ Mountains–Desert Peaks, the Green Chamber of Commerce, Sierra Club, Southern New Mexico Trail Alliance, and a local company, Southwest Expeditions. While many of the outings are free, those such as rafting trips, jeep excursions, aerial tours, festivals, and concerts have a fee. David Crider of Southwest Expeditions was busy all last September helping people appreciate the outdoor beauty of the Organ Mountains and beyond. He says, “For our part, we thought the event was a huge success. We had great turnout for everything across the board. We had sell-out crowds for the stagecoach and lots of folks sign up for the river rafting tour. All of the flights were great.”
David says they had participants from Las Cruces, El Paso, Alamogordo, Silver City, Albuquerque, and people traveling through the area on vacation from outside the state.
One of Southwest Expeditions’ popular activities is an Old West stagecoach excursion, which will take place near scenic Picacho Peak on September 22 from 4pm to 7pm and costs $40 per person. It includes a ride in a horse-drawn replica Butterfield stagecoach, delicious barbecue dinner, and country entertainment. Reserve your space for the stagecoach evening, plus aerial and jeep tours, Billy the Kid tour, tour of El Camino Real de la Tierra Adentro, and river rafting trips at swexpeditions.com.
But the outings organized by Southwest Expeditions tell just part of the story. For example, over four Saturdays in 2017, more than 160 people participated in yoga classes at the base of the Organ Mountains. Carrie Hamblen, CEO/president of the Las Cruces Green Chamber, says, “This was a great demonstration of creative ways to use the monument while protecting public lands.”
M2M also offers less strenuous activities, such as The Wild & Scenic Film Festival at the Rio Grande Theatre, hosted by the Friends of the Organ Mountains–Desert Peaks, and Pops Under the Stars, in the Plaza de Las Cruces, both on Friday, September 14. The Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra concert is new to M2M, with tickets $16 for general admission and $51 for VIP table seating. The Wild & Scenic Film Festival, a night of environmental and adventure films which transport you to the farthest reaches of the globe, is a returning event with tickets $10.
Art that celebrates the outdoors is also part of M2M. An exhibit of works created by the Organ Mountains–Desert Peaks National Monument artists in residence opens at the Southwest Environmental Center (SWEC) during the monthly First Friday Art Ramble from 5pm to 8pm and will be on display all September. From September 26 to 29, there will be a Plein Air Fest where painters will create art outdoors.
There’s something for everyone, so come out and explore all the things that make the Mesilla Valley such a great place to live and visit.
Get detailed event information and sign up for activities at: monuments2mainstreet.com
JOIN IN THE FUN FOR FREE!
Many of the activities in September are offered at no cost, including
• Yoga in the Monument (September 1, 8, 15, and 22)
• Apollo astronaut training site tours (September 15 and 23)
• Discovery site tour at the Prehistoric Trackways National Monument (September 15)
• Panoramic Peaks tour in the Sierra de las Uvas (September 16)
• Picacho Peak hike (September 23)
• Bikepacking Box Canyon campout (September 29 – 30)
• Tours of Aden Crater (September 29)
• Cultural tour at Apache Flats (September 30)