AlamogordoWith about 35,000 citizens, Alamogordo is a quiet little city. It is an ideal base for exploring many interesting places in the surroundings. You will find several inexpensive motels, campgrounds and RV parks, and rental car stations.
Valley of FiresThe Valley of Fires Recreation area is about a two to three hour drive north of the White Sands National Monument. The dark black lava crust of this old lava flow forms a magnificient contrast to the brilliant white sand dunes of White Sands. In the fertile lava ground, a variety of different plants enrich the sight with green, colorful and odd shaped plants. The laval flow is between 1500 and 2000 years old. It is some 44 miles long with a width of 4 to 6 miles.
The recreation area offers a nature walk through the lava field, which gives you some information about geology and vegetation along the trail.
Getting thereFrom White Sands or Alamogordo, take U.S. Route 70 north to Tularosa. From there, take U.S. Route 54 to Carrizozo and follow the signs.
Sunspot Solar ObservatoryAmong the 100 billion stars in our Milkiway galaxy, our sun, which is nothing but a star, is the closest to us. Still, it is much easier to observe all the other stars at night, which can already easily be done with binoculars. However, observing the sun is quite dangerous, and nobody should ever attempt to directly look into the sun with or without binoculars, since it would cause immediate eye damage. Having a professional sun observatory just around the corner makes it much easier. When taking the necessary precautions, such as using appropriate sun filters, the sun unveils that it is much more than just a very bright yellow ball in the sky. With a properly equipped telescope, we can observer large eruptions of gas material on the surface of the sun. Sunspots, which are darker areas on the sun's surface, can be observed with varying intensity. These spots are areas with a lower temerature compared to the regular surface temperature of approximately 5510 degrees celsius. They are caused by magnetic field lines entering or exiting the sun's surface and preventing energy from within the sun to be transported to the surface.
The Sunspot Observatory lies on the mountains south-east of Alamogordo. It has a visitor center with lots of information on the sun itself. You can take a walk on the observatory's premises and have a close look at the teleskopes and other observing equipment.