Vacation in the time of government shutdowns
January 1, 2019 8:53 PM   Subscribe

I was supposed to go to Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands this week, but they're closed due to the shutdown. I was also hoping to go hiking in Guadalupe Mountains NP, but it's like 25 degrees with freezing fog (yikes!), which is not my preferred hiking weather. So...what should we do instead, in the general area of El Paso?

We're currently in Van Horn, and we're flying home out of El Paso Friday night. It seems like our original plans won't work out, so what should we do/where should we go instead for the next three days? We've done a lot of driving this week, so closer is better, but if a four-hour drive gets us to something awesome, then that's good with me.

We've already gone through Big Bend (the state and national parks), Marfa/Alpine, the observatory...the usual West Texas suspects, at least according to Lonely Planet and Frommer's.

We like: (Mexican) food, cultural stuff, low to medium-intensity hiking, walking around interesting neighborhoods, weird things. Everywhere we've been so far has been awesome.
posted by goodbyewaffles to Travel & Transportation around West, TX (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Space hall of fame should be open. Tour los alamos? Old town alberquereque? Nuke museum - Sandia tramway, historic mining towns? Hueco tanks might be open.
posted by tilde at 9:03 PM on January 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Maybe the alien museum in Roswell?

Keep in mind that there's major winter weather in New Mexico....for New Mexico. Albuquerque is basically closed tomorrow due to snow, including most state and county offices. Roads are intermittently closed in and out of the city due to black ice and snow that isn't disappearing by itself. Drive very carefully if you're in the state....and remember that most drivers here don't know how to drive in winter weather.
posted by answergrape at 9:48 PM on January 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Old Mesilla in Las Cruces is very cool - it’s a historic village that’s been preserved and turned into restaurants and shops. Eat at La Posta, and check out the amazing historic building it’s in. (I live in this area, and Old Mesilla is my number one thing to do here.) Coas Books is great if you’re reader, but any kids will be bored. At the university, you can go to the Chile Pepper Institute, if you’re into spicy things. It’s small but pretty interesting, and they sell some really good stuff - the ghost pepper mustard and the ghost pepper ketchup are great, even if you’re not that into spicy stuff.

In El Paso - Pho Tre Bien on (Gateway Blvd specifically) has a neat enclosed patio, with a stream and Koi carp, that’s worth checking out. The phó is good, too. I believe they have heaters on the patio if it’s chilly. Honestly, other than that, El Paso doesn’t have much. Las Cruces has a lot more going for it.

Consider going to Silver City, it has a good art district.

If you come to Alamogordo (where I live) for the space museum, go a little further down the street to Plateau Coffee Shop. I’ll be honest, the coffee is mediocre and the decor is too, but the view from the patio is fantastic. Those are the only two things worth checking out here, so don’t waste time looking for anything else.

If you keep on going down the highway, you’ll get to Tularosa, which has a very picturesque old mission, on your right as you drive through town. Also, look for Horsefeathers on Granado Street - the street has a few little art shops on it, nowhere near the quality of other towns but it might be interesting.

If you keep on down the road, it will turn sharply to the right, and you’ll be on your way to Ruidoso. You’ll want to check the road conditions on any given day, but Ruidoso is easier to get to than Cloudcroft (even though it’s further) and has a lot more to do. In particular, Cafe Rio has the best pizza I’ve had outside NYC, and a fantastic meatball sandwich (skip the jambalaya) and Hunt & Harvest has incredible truffle Parmesan fries. The nearby Inn of the Mountain Gods is the Mescalero Apache resort and casino, and is worth checking out even if you don’t gamble. It’s not your typical casino at all.

I personally wouldn’t drive as far as Albuquerque if I was only here 3 days, because it will eat up all your time, but if you’re willing to go that far, go to Santa Fe instead. Santa Fe is one of the most amazing places I’ve ever visited in the US. It feels like you’re in another country. There’s tons of places to eat, an incredible amount of art, the Plaza area, La Fonda hotel (which is worth checking out even if you don’t stay there), very old Spanish and Native American culture, carefully preserved architecture, and of course, Meow Wolf. Honestly, I’d consider flying directly into ABQ if I only had 3 days, though.

Memail me or hit me up on twitter if you want more details on anything.
posted by MexicanYenta at 5:02 AM on January 2, 2019 [4 favorites]

Three Rivers Petroglyph Site and City of Rocks are worth a stop-over.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:21 AM on January 2, 2019

Hueco Tanks is a very cool State Park, so it should be open. I aslo loved Guadalupe Mountains National Park and Sycamore Canyon National Park, but sadly access to those will be limited.

Mesilla is a neat little town. My parents used to live there and we'd walk/bike to the Rio Grande along the laterals throughout the pecan fields, which is pretty easy and very scenic. There's some neats shops and La Posta, which are kitchy, but cute.

The Organ Mountains are quite impressive from the valley, but hiking around Cloudcroft is great too, if the weather is nice. You can still drive out to White Sands, through the WSMR, which is really 70% of the fun of actually going to the dunes (sledding on the dunes is the other 30%). Keep an eye out for pronghorns and roadrunners.

Silver City is a bit of a haul, but a neat little arty town. And if the road is open up to Gila Hot Spings, that's a very slow but very pretty drive. Buy gas in town if you attempt it!
posted by 1f2frfbf at 5:09 PM on January 2, 2019

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