Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument

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Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument
An aerial photo of the Organ Mountains from the west
Organ Mountains
A map of New Mexico showing the location of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument
A map of New Mexico showing the location of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument
Location Doña Ana County, New Mexico, United States
Nearest city Las Cruces, NM
Coordinates 32°19′34″N 106°33′18″W / 32.326°N 106.555°W / 32.326; -106.555Coordinates: 32°19′34″N 106°33′18″W / 32.326°N 106.555°W / 32.326; -106.555[1]
Area 496,330 acres (200,860 ha)
Established May 21, 2014
Governing body Bureau of Land Management
Official website

The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument is a United States National Monument in New Mexico, managed by the Bureau of Land Management as part of the National Landscape Conservation System.


The 496,330 acre monument protects a variety of geological, paleontological and archaeological resources.[2] President Barack Obama designated the monument on May 21, 2014.[3] Half of the monument is designated wilderness and closed to development or motorized use.[4]

The Monument is located in the Mesilla Valley in southern New Mexico, surrounding the city of Las Cruces, New Mexico in Doña Ana County. The protected area includes the mountain ranges of the Chihuahua Desert. The five identified as being within the national monument are the Robledo Mountains, Sierra de las Uvas, Doña Ana Mountains, Organ Mountains and the Potrillo Mountains.[2] The Prehistoric Trackways National Monument is beside this area.[2]

Kilbourne Hole

Protected areas[edit]

The Monument protects many archaeological and cultural sites of interest[5] includes sites where World War Two bombers practised their targeting, and Kilbourne Hole in the Potrillo volcanic field where American astronauts trained for lunar missions in the 1960s.[6] The monument also includes 22 miles (35 km) of the Butterfield Stagecoach Trail.[6]

Before the Gadsden Purchase, this land included the border between Mexico and the U.S.A.[7] The Aden Lava Flow Wilderness Study Area is here[2] and there are 243 known archeological sites[4] including some of the earliest Native American settlements and petroglyphs made by three different tribes.[4] The land includes Shelter Cave and Conkling Cavern.[7] Fossils of ground sloths have been found in the area.[2]

More recently the land was used by William H. Bonney (who became the outlaw Billy the Kid) and Geronimo, who led his forces during the Apache Wars.[4] It is said that "Outlaw Rock" is where Billy the Kid visited and there is a cave known as "Geronimo's Rock".[7]

The area is managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management.[4]

Campaign for establishment[edit]

The national monument status was created after a campaign by conservation advocates that lasted several years. Several bills were introduced in Congress to protect the area through legislation, but they were blocked by House Republicans. In contrast with some previous monument designations, communities and governments of Doña Ana County were supportive of the application for designation. A poll found that 60 percent of the local voters favored establishing this land as a 500,000-acre national monument.[8]


  1. ^ "Organ Mountains". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved May 22, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Presidential Proclamation -- Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, Barack Obama, The White House, 21 May 2014
  3. ^ "Obama declares the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region of N.M. a national monument". Published May 21, 2014. Washington Post. Retrieved 22 May 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d e New National Monument Created in New Mexico, National Geographic, retrieved 9 June 2014
  5. ^ "Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks". New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. Retrieved 22 May 2014. 
  6. ^ a b Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument to be Protected,, retrieved 9 June 2014
  7. ^ a b c Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument Fact Sheet,, retrieved 9 June 2014
  8. ^ Poll finds strong support for larger Organ Mountains proposal, Phil Taylor, Environment and Energy Publishing, 23 January 2014

External links[edit]