Introduction to Las Cruces, New Mexico
The New Mexico city of Las Cruces is located on the banks of the Rio Grande just west of the Organ Mountains in Doña Ana County. The city is situated at the crossroads of Interstates 10 and 25 in the southern part of New Mexico, about 45 miles north of El Paso, Texas. The city is also serviced by U.S. Routes 70 and 180, and New Mexico State Highways 28, 101, 185, 188, 292, 320, 373, and 478. Las Cruces is home to New Mexico State University (NMSU), the state's only land-grant institution.
Las Cruces is Spanish for "The Crosses." There are numerous theories on exactly how the city got its name, ranging from local legends about crosses erected to honor past victims of Indian raids to simply an early Spanish geographic description of the city as a "crossing" or "crossroads." Incorporated in 1907, Las Cruces has benefited from the presence of the University and since the latter half of the 20th century has seen its economy grow primarily due to the advent of the nearby White Sands Missile Range and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) facilities located in the area.
Things to do in Las Cruces
Las Cruces is rich in attractions that celebrate the city’s history and cultural diversity. The annual Whole Enchilada Fiesta is a huge event held every September where downtown Las Cruces is transformed into one big street party complete with food, live music, rides, a parade, and the creation of a very large enchilada (the 2004 version was cited by the Guinness Book of Records as the worlds largest). The New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum features hands-on displays and live demonstrations charting the history of agriculture in the state. Historic Old Mesilla, only minutes from Las Cruses, is a quaint town highlighted by a plaza filled with shops, boutiques, and restaurants. Other attractions and events include the following:
- A. R. Leding Cactus Garden
- Aguirre Springs National Recreation Area
- Bataan Death March Memorial
- Fort Selden State Monument
- La Viña Blues & Jazz Thing (April)
- Cinco de Mayo Fiesta (May)
- La Viña Wine Festival (October)
- Cowboy Days (October)
- Renaissance ArtsFaire (November)
Fans looking for local sports action can find it in the form of collegiate athletics. The New Mexico State University sports teams, known as the Aggies, compete in the Western Athletic Conference. Major rivalries exist between the Aggies and the University of New Mexico (UNM), and also between the Aggies and the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). The closest professional sports team is located in nearby El Paso (about 45 minutes away). The El Paso Diablos are an independent minor league baseball team competing in the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball.