(C) 2002-2014 J. Watson All rights reserved
Continuing into the southwest on along the border you may see
remnants of early civilizations -- cliff dwellings, adobe structures as
well as the striking saguaro cacti.
Las Cruces. Head south to Mesilla, photo. This has a village
square that is like a movie set of a “western” with a church at one
end. The surrounding buildings include one in which Kit Carson was
tried and another was the oldest brick building in the New Mexico
Territory. On one of our visits there was a Saturday morning market
set up in the square. Sort of fun. Head west on I-10 to:
Deming. This community is home to many retirees as well as being
a winter home to “snow birds”. We especially enjoyed the Deming
Luna Mimbres Museum, which gives a solid picture of the history of
the area. We consider it one of the finer community museums. Head
north on US-180 to:
Silver City. Go north on Route 15 to Gila Cliff Dwellings National
Monument. (If driving a RV you must avoid this route and take
Route 35.) This is a twisty road (one wag says that on a scale of one
to four it is a four Valium® road!). Allow a couple of hours to travel
about fifty miles. The reward of seeing the cliff dwellings is well worth
the hassle. You can walk through the rooms of the structures that
were built in the late thirteenth century. Then return to Silver City.
As you go from Silver City on Route 90 stop at the view spot to see
an old open pit copper mine. This is a fantastic operation about a
mile and a half wide, several miles long and 1,500 feet deep.
Continue to I-10 and cut south on Route 186 to...
Chiricahua National Monument. You’ll see rugged country with
spires and unusual rock formations. The narrow road takes you to a
small parking area at Massai Point that overlooks endless views of
impressive black rock formations. This is the result of erosion of a
volcano that occurred twenty-six million years ago. RVers should
check in advance for size restrictions. Upon leaving, go south to …
Douglas. This town is on the Mexican border. We went east to the
San Bernardino Ranch National Historic Landmark, photo,
(Slaughter Ranch). This old ranch has the same appearance as it
did in the early 1900s. The ranch straddled the border. There were
stressed relations between Mexico and the US at the time of WWI so
US army troops manned an outpost here in the event of an invasion.
(Now, the problem is illegal immigrants.) Continue on Route 80 to…
Bisbee. Don a hard hat and straddle a mine car to enter the Queen
Mine. A former miner conducts the tour that describes the harsh
working conditions of the miners who worked in them during the first
half of the 1900s. After the tour take time to pull into the viewing
spot of the surface copper mine. This is an open pit mine – about a
mile across and over 900 feet deep – with a roadway that spirals its
way around the side for the trucks to bring the ore to the top.
Continue on Route 80 to…
Tombstone. Though this is the real thing it has a feel of being
ersatz, but fun. Absorb the atmosphere of this former lawless
boomtown. Silver and gold were mined nearby. What you see today
are the buildings that remain from those days. See the famous OK
Corral; The Bird Cage Theatre; Boot Hill; the Courthouse and more.
Then to I-10 to visit…
Saguaro National Park. The saguaro is cactus that cartoonists
portray with the arms extended. They are found only in this general
area of Arizona and nearby areas of California and Mexico. If they
were trees we’d call it a forest; I don’t know whether this should be
called a forest of cacti. This is viewed by driving through the park on
the narrow one lane road (not suitable for RVs, though I’ve driven
it). The cacti have bright blooms in May and June. Look for the
holes in the cacti that are inhabited by the rodents and birds. Year-
round you can enjoy the varying shapes and growth. The park has
two sections, one on each side of Tucson. We’ve visited the
eastern one. Then back to I-90 and go west to Route 87 to visit
Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. What an experience!
This has an incredible four-story structure that was constructed of
adobe probably in the 1400s. The builders (Hohokams) had no
written language and yet they had a depth of knowledge of
astronomy that is reflected in the site of the construction. In addition
there are remains of nearby smaller buildings. Keep in mind that
adobe is little more than bricks made of sun-baked mud with straw
that helps bind it. It is remarkable that the structure survived. A
protective roof was placed over it in the 1930s.
At this point Route D heads north to Idaho. Or continue…
About an hour west of Casa Grande you can go south to…
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. When you see these cacti
you’ll understand the reason they are called “organ pipe”. They
grow only in this area. This part of the Sonoran desert is an
especially barren area, however the area is scenic with a variety of
birds and plants that appeal to hikers. This is on the Mexico/US
border. Return to I-8 and go west.
Severe mountain conditions on I-8. Be prepared. It goes up over
one mile in just ten miles. Turn off the air conditioner.
San Diego to connect to
Route A Southern California - Coastal route