Alamogordo is a small town of about 20,000 residents in south central New Mexico, about an hour north of El Paso, Texas. Alamogordo's largest employer is the nearby Holloman Air Force Base, which has a rich history of air and space superiority and stealth technology. Although it's a small town, there's a lot to do there, but you wouldn't know it just driving through. So, next time you're in the area, stop for a bit. You'll be glad you did.
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White Sands National Monument
This is what happened to me. I first visited White Sands in 2006 with my father on the drive west that brought me to California in the first place. I have wanted to return ever since. To walk barefoot on these cotton dunes, and to take the time of day there to simply breath. To be. And also, as a naturalist, to hopefully observe some it’s unique and cryptic desert fauna. But even the best laid plans can falter.Boca and I had intended to camp at White Sands National Monument, and actually sleep on the dunes themselves beneath a starry desert sky. The night prior we explored a prehistoric forest where dinosaurs once roamed, the rocky remains of the Petrified Forest National Park strewn haphazardly across the Painted Desert.After overnighting in a small town called Eagar in Arizona’s White Mountains, we decided to drive south through Gila National Forest. And this was our mistake. The roads were narrow, winding, and poorly marked. We took a wrong turn and ended up on a half day detour, lost amongst the high altitude pine lands of Apache National Forest.We didn’t make it to White Sands until just before sunset. We were refused a camping permit. We were too late. But we were also right on time. In time for what nature had intended all along. A spectacular light show for our benefit. Alone and desperately tiny on the mammoth dunescape, we witnessed our solar system’s fiery center dip beneath jagged dry hills, casting a Santa Fe water color mural across the sky and dunes.We hope you enjoy reading about what we saw. But what we felt can only be experienced firsthand.
New Mexico Museum of Space History
This museum can be seen from all over the valley as it sits up on the foothills of the Sacramento Mountains. There is a huge rocket standing vertically outside surrounded by several smaller rockets, communication equipment, and space memorabilia. Inside, there is a small admission fee and gift shop on the main level. Once you pay, just take the elevator up to the top and walk your way back down. Each floor has lots of informative space information, pictures and bios of astronauts, New Mexico's huge part in the space mission, and lots of space suits, rockets, satellites, drones, and other objects on display.