On Saturday, mid-morning after our visit to the Las Cruces Farmers' and Craft Market, we decided to take a little drive east of town to the Organ Mountains. This is a beautiful mountain range that we can see from our campsite. Our plan was to hike in the Dripping Springs Natural Area.
After a nice drive, we reached the A. B. Cox visitor center at the Dripping Springs National Recreation Area. Steve's senior park pass gained us free admission - woo-hoo! We parked BAT, picked up our trail map and headed toward the namesake trail - the Dripping Springs Trail. The trail has an elevation change of about 500 feet and is a little over 3 miles long. It was nice and warm when we headed out.
The trail is well maintained with small gravel and is well marked too. There were not too many other folks out hiking, but we did pass a few folks coming and going. The first 3/4 of a mile was a steady uphill climb with a few places to rest and look out over the valley below. Then we reached the first of several buildings, including an old Livery stable. Farther on we reached the Dripping Springs which really was just a trickle. It has been very dry here so there was not much water. Steve hiked on up to the Sanatorium while I sat on a rock near the springs and watched the birds flit in and out.
After Steve came back, we continued our hike to the ruins of the Van Patten Mountain Camp. This camp was a resort built in the 1870's by Colonel Eugene Van Patten. It was later renamed Dripping Springs Resort and was very popular around the turn of the century. In 1917 Van Patten went bankrupt and the resort was purchased by Dr. Nathan Boyd who converted part of the property into a sanatorium after his wife contracted tuberculosis. The Boyd family later sold the property to a Las Cruces physician who continued to operate the property as a sanatorium until the 1940's when the property was abandoned and later scavenged for building materials.
The Bureau of Land Management acquired the property and maintains the ruins for the benefit of future generations of visitors. We really enjoyed our hike into the beautiful Organ Mountains!