Dripping Springs Natural Area
Overlooking Las Cruces from the east are the Organ Mountains, a haven for hikers and adventure seekers alike. The Organs, which rise to over 9,000 feet in elevation, are so named because of the steep, needle-like spires that resemble the pipes of an organ. This picturesque area of rocky peaks, narrow canyons and open woodlands shelters the Dripping Springs Natural Area, noted for its "weeping walls." Formerly known as the Cox Ranch, this area encompasses a wealth of habitats containing great biological diversity, including four endemic wildflower species, the endangered Organ Mountains evening primrose and other rare plants, and a race of the Colorado chipmunk.
Dripping Springs Hike
The hike from the Dripping Springs Visitors Center to the springs is about 1-1/2 miles. The hike is considered easy, although it does climb about 1500 feet.
Van Patten’s Mountain Camp
A historical marker at the site provides the following information about the buildings:
“The wooden structures in this area were constructed in the late 1800’s by Major Eugene Van Patten. These buildings were associated with Van Patten’s Mountain Camp, a historic resort hotel located approximately 1/4 mile further up the canyon. These out buildings served as a livery, mercantile, and chicken coop for the hotel. Wagons were kept under a long barn which has collapsed. The barn was adjacent to the corral.”
“In the late 1800’s a stageline brought guests to the hotel from Las Cruces, a 17 mile trip. The stage would deliver the guests to the front of the hotel and then return to the livery. The wagons and horses for the stagelines, as well as the personal livestock of the guests were kept in this area. A milk cow and garden were also maintained in this area. Fresh vegetables (when available), beef, milk, and eggs were served to the guests at the hotel dining room.”