The Ranges North and Northwest

The Human Chapter of the Monument

It is the Sierra de los Uvas and the other mountain ranges north and northwest of Las Cruces that recall perhaps the most notable chapters in the human chapter of the Organ Mountains Desert Peaks Monument. In the low and rugged peaks, secluded canyons and desert grasslands, you can find records of prehistoric peoples, international territorial dispute resolution, the Apache Wars, early farming and ranching, World War II bomber aircraft training targets, and fabled human travel corridors.

Old encampment

You may find prehistoric rock art along rocky outcrops that almost seem to have a spiritual aura. You can still see rock cairns that mark the boundary of the Gadsden Purchase, an acquisition of land that settled a dispute between the United States and Mexico in the mid-19th century. You may visit battle sites where settlers, travelers and the U. S. Army fought bitter and deadly battles with the Apaches. You can explore the ruins of historic farm and ranch homes. You can still see the remnants of the aerial targets from World War II.

Across the southern part of this section of the monument, you can follow more than 20 miles of the rough dirt trail that once connected St. Louis and San Antonio to Los Angeles and San Francisco, serving wanderers, immigrants, cattle drovers, 49ers, and John Butterfield’s stagecoaches.

Paralleling the eastern boundary of the Robledos, along the Rio Grande and the fertile Mesilla Valley, you can retrace the historic trail that connected Mexico City to Santa Fe. Called El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro – or the Royal Road to the Interior – by the Spanish, it has – for thousands of years – served travelers, including explorers, hunters and gatherers, immigrants, traders, missionaries, raiders, soldiers, and many others answering the call to adventure. You can stand near the site where one of Juan de Oñate’s colonists – Pedro Robledo – died in May of 1598. According to legend, he was buried, with treasure, on the west side of the Rio Grande, in the mountain range that lies within the monument and now bears his name.

The Camino Real corridor was first traveled by the Spanish in the late 16th century. It remains in use today by modern travelers.


Exploring those mountain ranges that lie north and northwest of Las Cruces, and the Robledo Mountains in particular, you may, with exceptionally good luck, find the long-lost grave of Pedro Robledo. And perhaps, his treasure.

Organ Mountains | Desert Peaks | Portrillo Mountains | Overview



The Robledo Mountains also embrace the Prehistoric Trackways National Monument, which bear the fossilized tracks of the wildlife that roamed the area some 280 million years ago. You can arrange to visit that site by contacting the Las Cruces office of the Bureau of Land Management (1-575-525-4300).

For additional information or a possible tour or site visits, contact the BLM’ s Las Cruces District Office at 1-575-525-4499 or the Friends, Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks at



Share this page on Facebook:

DesertUSA Newsletter -- We send articles on hiking, camping and places to explore, as well as animals, wildflower reports, plant information and much more. Sign up below or read more about the DesertUSA newsletter here. (It's Free.)

The Desert Environment
The North American Deserts
Desert Geological Terms



Desert Videos

Mountain Lion

The Mountain Lion Video
The Mountain Lion, also known as the Cougar, Panther or Puma, is the most widely distributed cat in the Americas. It is unspotted -- tawny-colored above overlaid with buff below. It has a small head and small, rounded, black-tipped ears. Watch one in this video.

The Black Widow SpiderView Video about The Black Widow Spider. The female black widow spider is the most venomous spider in North America, but it seldom causes death to humans, because it only injects a very small amount of poison when it bites. Click here to view video.

The Rattlesnake

The Rattlesnake Video
Rattlesnakes come in 16 distinct varieties. There are numerous subspecies and color variations, but they are all positively identified by the jointed rattles on the tail. Take a look at a few of them, and listen to their rattle!


Take a look at our Animals index page to find information about all kinds of birds, snakes, mammals, spiders and more!

USB Charger solar

life straw

Hot temperatures in the desertAre you interested in the temperatures in the desert?

Click here to see current desert temperatures!

Copyright © 1996-2018 and Digital West Media, Inc. - -