Several field trip options are available for those coming to Las Cruces for ICAR XI including:
- 1-DAY LAS CRUCES PREHISTORIC TRACKWAY NATIONAL MONUMENT
- 1-DAY LAS CRUCES DRIPPINGS SPRINGS NATURAL AREA
- 1-DAY CARRIZOZO LAVA FIELDS, CLOUDCROFT, & WHITE SANDS
- 1-DAY CHIRICAHUA NATIONAL MONUMENT AND LORDSBURG & WILLCOX PLAYAS
- 1-2 DAY CARLSBAD CAVERNS WITH STOPS AT SALT FLAT BASIN
PRE-CONFERENCE GUIDED TRIP TO SAMALYUCA DUNES (SUNDAY JULY 9)
The Samalayuca dunes are the tallest in North America, rising 120 m above the adjacent basin floor. This large dune field lies approximately 45 km (30 miles) south of Ciudad Juarez and today are part of a protected natural area. The dunes comprise two fields, one at the southern end of the Sierra Samalayuca and the other, much larger field, an echo field that has accumulated upwind of the Sierra del Presidio.
This guided field-trip will leave at 8 AM on Sunday July 9 from Las Cruces, crossing the border to Mexico in El Paso to be able to visit the dunes in the morning and include lunch before returning to Las Cruces in the afternoon. The estimated cost will be $50 USD to cover transport and lunch. Please see the overview guide below for more details on the day: One Day Guided Trip to Samalayuca Dune field, Chihuahua Mexico.
1-DAY LAS CRUCES PREHISTORIC TRACKWAY NATIONAL MONUMENT
The Prehistoric Trackways National Monument was established in 2009 to conserve, protect, and enhance the unique and nationally-important paleontological, scientific, educational, scenic, and recreational resources and values of the Robledo Mountains in southern New Mexico. The Monument includes a major deposit of Paleozoic Era fossilized footprint megatrackways within approximately 5,280 acres.
The trackways contain footprints of numerous amphibians, reptiles, and insects (including previously unknown species), plants, and petrified wood dating back 280 million years, which collectively provide new opportunities to understand animal behaviors and environments from a time predating dinosaurs. The site contains one of the most scientifically-significant Early Permian track sites in the world.
1-DAY LAS CRUCES DRIPPINGS SPRINGS NATURAL AREA
The Dripping Springs Natural Area has over four miles of easy hiking trails, including the Dripping Springs Trail, which shows off desert scrub and low elevation pinon-juniper and oak woodlands. The area also boasts excellent wildlife viewing opportunities, including excellent year-round viewing of red-tailed hawk, Gambel’s quail, golden eagle and rock squirrel. It offers very good year-round viewing of desert mule deer and coyote. Also watch for black-throated sparrow, ladder- backed woodpecker, verdin, black-tailed gnatcatcher, lesser nighthawk, Scott’s oriole, cactus wren, desert cottontail, and collared and tree lizard in the spring and summer.
1-DAY CARRIZOZO LAVA FIELDS, CLOUDCROFT, & WHITE SANDS
Revisit White Sands Dune Field, visit an alpine town at 2655 m, and walk across a ~1500 year old lava flow. Carrizozo Volcanic Field is a recent lava flow (~1500 years old). Stop along Hwy 380 at the rest areas for a walk through the lava flow. You will see all the features of pahoehoe lava you’d expect from a fresh flow.
1-DAY CHIRICAHUA NATIONAL MONUMENT AND LORDSBURG & WILLCOX PLAYAS
Chiricahua National Monument was known to the Apache people as the “Land of Standing-Up Rocks” and to early European settlers as the “Wonderland of Rocks.” Located in the heart of one of the biogeographic “sky island” mountain ranges between the Sierra Madre and Rocky Mountains, the area has great ecological significance, though it was preserved primarily for its geological significance. The mountains are a Basin and Range structural block in which the Oligocene-age Turkey Creek Caldera eruptions created extensive volcaniclastic deposits which were eroded into distinctive hoodoos and badlands (Pallister et al., 1997). The park road “Bonita Canyon Drive” provides access to numerous picnic areas, scenic viewpoints, and hiking trails on its way to Massai Point (where you can enjoy cooler air at 2095 meters elevation).
1-2 DAY CARLSBAD CAVERNS WITH STOPS AT SALT FLAT BASIN
Carlsbad Cavern is one of the largest and most popular “tourist caves” in North America. Its geology is complex and fascinating. The park contains over 110 other less-visited wilderness caves. Please note! Advance reservations are required to enter the cavern. The geology east of El Paso along the US 62-180 to Carlsbad is covered in Scholle where you will find the Salt Flat Basin (Trans-Pecos Closed Basin), which contains several large saline playas, the northeasternmost in the Chihuahuan Desert. They are the remnant of Pleistocene pluvial Lake King. Dry except for after extremely strong monsoon rains, the playa system is regularly the source of intense dust plumes during the dry season (Nov. – May). A small gypsum dune field is accessible at the east side of the basin via an unpaved road and hike.