High up in the Sacramento Mountains towering above the Tularosa Basin there is a place called Cloudcroft, New Mexico. It is about 9,000 feet “above stress level” as locals say. The climate is much wetter and totally cooler. When it is not cloudy the sky is a deep mountain blue.
To start off our Independence Day trip we went to a few places in New Mexico we have never been before. First Carlsbad Caverns where we watched the bats fly out from the ground for their nightly feasting on moths and other insects. Underneath a full moon with bright Venus and Jupiter illuminated twinlike after dusk, we considered the intricacies of the bats’ knowledge, and their nightly work keeping the ecosystem balanced. We know so little about how bats operate. Much is yet to be “discovered”. The kids in the crowd kept tripping up the Park Rangers with unanswerable questions. With insatiable curiosity and lively imaginations the youth exploring our world are already joining the corps of discovery. The next day we descended into the caverns. What a magnificent underworld beyond dreams. Afterwards we picnicked, then headed towards Cloudcroft to camp in the Sacramento mountains.
It is hard to imagine what elevation change does for climate and life zones. The tops of the mountains are nearly 7,000′ above White Sands and the Tularosa Basin. You can look out and see all the way across to the Organ Mountains over Las Cruces, with the San Andreas Mountains trailing to the north. We camped close to the National Recreation Rim Trail and in the morning hiked through woodlands and meadows with Douglas Fir, Aspen, oak, and flowers for company.
It was beautiful. We saw no one out on the trail. To replenish we went into town to Mad Jack’s Mountain Top barbeque, then drank a coffee and enjoyed strolling around the small town. It reminded me of the mountain town I used to live in up on the Colorado Plateau, except Cloudcroft is higher, smaller, and quieter. Love this place. Small town, big mountains.
Transitioning from the woods to town reminded me that what people are seeking for rest, rejuvenation and celebration already exists. We don’t have to make it, we just take it in. Observing the hasty arrivals you can see even on vacation people get distracted by the conveyances. But as soon as you can settle down you realize what we are really after is all around us. Walking with the perfect integrity of these high mountain woods breathed new life into us. New Mexico has a lot to offer. Cloudcroft in summer is good.