Let’s face it, the San Andres Mountains of Southern New Mexico don’t get much love.
Seems as if the Organ Mountains, another mountain range just east of Las Cruces, get all the attention. Yet, few notice the San Andres Mountains exist.
Such is the case even though Salinas Peak, San Andres’ highest peak, is nearly as high as the Organ Needle, the Organs’ highest peak.*
* Salinas Peak and the Organ Needle rise to elevations of 8,965 feet and 8, 990 feet, respectively.
Guess it’s because the San Andres Mountains look, for the most part, like any other mountain range. They lack the granite “needle” section that gives the Organs their signature appearance.
But did you know the southern San Andres Mountains are home to a 126-square mile acre wildlife refuge where bighorn sheep roam free?
Imagine, over 57,000 acres where these sheep and other critters, including mountain lions, mule deer, and oryx (African antelope), are thriving day-in-day-out; that’s good news.
The bad news is the refuge is off-limits to the general public since it’s located on a military installation.
Nevertheless, there are ways you can appreciate the refuge and the mountains it sits in from afar.
FROM THE WEST SIDE OF THE SAN ANDRES MOUNTAINS
You can get a panoramic view of the San Andres Mountains and the San Augustin Mountains from a distance (as in the featured photo above) by exiting the US-70 and driving north on Brahman Road.
(What we call the San Augustin mountain range is, actually, the southernmost portion of the San Andres Mountains. It’s about 8 miles long and ends at San Augustin Pass on the US-70, hence the name.)
FROM THE EAST SIDE OF THE SAN ANDRES MOUNTAINS
For the closest best view of the San Andres Mountains, you can’t do any better than San Augustin Pass.
From either direction on the US-70, you’ll know you’re nearing the Pass as soon as you see San Augustin Peak.
Granite-topped San Augustin Peak is hard to miss, whether on your way in or out of the east side of Las Cruces. Once that ball of white appears, know that breathtaking landscapes (and a world of wild creatures) are just ahead.