Copyright © 2013 by Ralph F. Couey
Alamogordo, New Mexico to Tombstone, Arizona
330 miles, about 6 hours
US70, I-10, NM80, AZ80
There's something special about the Southwest. It's hard for people from the more forested regions of the United States to see the inherent beauty within the harsh and unforgiving terrain of the desert.
This ride starts in the city of Alamogordo, New Mexico, nestled at the foot of the Sacramento Mountains. To the west lies the Tularosa Basin which humans inhabited some 11,000 years ago. The city was established in 1898 when the El Paso and Northeastern Railroad extended their line into the area. The name, Alamogordo, which means "large cottonwood," was inspired by the presence of a grove of the hardy trees. From the 1940s on, Holloman Air Force Base was the site of aerospace work, including rocket sleds and high-altitude balloon flights. The two chimpanzees who flew in space, Ham and Enos, were trained here. That tradition carries on with the New Mexico Museum of Space History.
Heading west on US70, you cross the basin and the Rio Grand Rift. To the north, the forbidding desert called Jornada del Muerto, Journey of the Dead, points your attention to the Trinity site, where the first atomic bomb was detonated.