Okay, I’m playing catch up here since I wasn’t able to post last weekend. Last weekend, I found myself driving to Cloudcroft and Mayhill, NM. The drive to Cloudcroft is a spectacular ride up into the Lincoln National Forest just 15 miles east of Alamogordo. The climb to nearly 8,600ft is relatively easy considering Las Cruces is already around 4,300ft. The ride starts in Las Cruces and rides east toward Alamogordo with the junction with US82, which continues into Cloudcroft and then on into Mayhill. Mayhill is very small (pop. 75 according to 2000 censes) and is officially an unincorporated community under the Otero County. Cloudcroft is larger with a population of 749 as per the 2000 censes.
I’ve been to Cloudcroft several times in the past, but this is first time I’ve taken my Accord. It’s not terribly far from Las Cruces, but the scenery and landscapes are completely different and often a welcome change if I just want an easy day’s drive to get away. In the summer when temperatures soar to a rather consistent 95-110˚F, it’s always nice to escape to Cloudcroft where it is likely to be in the 70s. It’s also the nearest ski/snowboarding destination for those who are active in those sort of things during the winder months.
Here’s US82 at the start of the climb to the Lincoln National Forest.
The Cloudcroft Tunnel: This is what I think is the only tunnel in southern New Mexico (not entirely sure though).
The ponderosa pines started to emerge as I climbed higher and higher…
The Accord handled the climb to 8,650ft without a problem. Other cars I’ve driven on this route have felt like they were huffing and puffing. Also, despite a moderately worn suspension, it gripped the curves surprisingly well. I didn’t push the Accord hard enough to see if understeer would be prominent, but for all practical purposes, it’s a well balanced chassis.
I basically followed US85 through the center of the village
Hmmm…I wonder what the purpose of this building is for?
The more touristy street is Burro St. where there are several souvenir shops and restaurants. The facades are made to have this rustic, old-western feel. I love it!
Some photos of the Spur Landing townhomes which are available for purchase or timeshares. Amazing of how different the architecture is compared to just 30mins down the hill.
This was the best view I was able to capture from the top of the ridge. As far as I know, there were no official viewpoints of Cloudcroft.
I have to admit, my attitude towards car ownership was changed with the purchase of my Accord. I no longer feel a need to be overly protective of my car. I now have the healthy attitude to just drive and use it for what it’s for. If there is a home-made dirt road/trail laid out in front of me, I will drive it. If there is an unavoidable mud puddle in my tracks, I will gladly splash through it. These are things nearly everyone does without thinking twice. But not for me with my previous cars (RSX, BMW…). I would plan my routes around rough roads or any city street which had careless sprinklers. Don’t get me wrong, I still will take as good of care of my Accord as I can and fix whatever sort of body damage may occur, but I’m not going to sweat over every mile. It’s a car and it’s meant to be driven. So I decided to take a dirt trail that looped around the back of Cloudcroft. This used to be a route that I would only reserve for my Nissan Pathfinder.
Low profile z-rated tires aren’t exactly the best thing for mud and slush, but they worked!
After I was finished grazing the streets of Cloudcroft, I followed US85 east for about 15 miles until I came to Mayhill. I didn’t capture any photos of Mayhill itself since it’s sort of scattered, but here’s an idea of what the area looks like. I then took Highway 130 south to loop back around to the outskirts of Cloudcroft where I would travel back home.
And here’s a photo I took a few years ago. This was during the monsoon months of July and August.
On my way back I spotted a really neat looking frozen waterfall on the side of a cliff that I just had to capture. I was wondering how much (if any) of this actually reaches the Rio Grande river about 75+ miles away.
Once I got home, I luckily had enough daylight left to wash away the evidence.
The next day was just random driving around the back roads of Las Cruces. Apparently, we are quite a large producer of pecans. There are many back roads framed in pecan orchards. Sometimes for miles, all you’ll see are these orchards.
And I just couldn’t resist driving in one: