Sloan Digital Sky Survey Meeting » Social Events
Monday - Day Hike in the Organ Mountains
Those who arrive on Monday and do not wish to join the working group sessions are invited to spend the afternoon walking in the nearby Organ Mountains, investigating the ruins of the Dripping Springs Resort (constructed in the 1870s), and the La Cueva rock shelter, an archaeological site associated with the Jornada branch of the prehistoric Mogollon culture.
The park is an easy 13 mile drive from Las Cruces, and you are welcome to drive out by yourself at any time during the day (it is open from 8am till 5pm, and there is a charge of $3 per car to enter the park). We will also run a shuttle van out, leaving from the Corbett Center after lunch at 1:30 (meet outside by the parking lot on the west side, near to the campus bookstore), and returning at 5pm.
To reach the park by car, take University Ave. eastwards from NMSU (towards the Organ Mountains). You will first pass over I-25, and then continue on University Ave., which at some point turns into Dripping Spring Rd., for 12 miles until you reach the Dripping Springs parking lot. After roughly 8 miles the road will briefly turn into a dirt road, but it will then turn back into a paved road after two more miles. Do not turn off of the road onto the better paved side roads!
You may wish to bring light hiking boots, but you can easily walk the trails in sneakers as well. The foothills of the Organ Mountains will be cool even if it is warm in town, so bring a light sweater. You may also wish to take sunglasses, sun screen, and water (or a canteen to fill). If you are quiet on the trails, there is a good chance of seeing deer, the occasional porcupine, and other shy animals.
Wednesday - Dinner and Jazz
We will hold a conference dinner at La Posta, on the old Plaza in Mesilla. Traditional New Mexico dining will be followed by drinks and live music at the nearby El Patio, featuring the Border Jazz Quintet.
Dinner and soft drinks are included in the registration fee, and you can also purchase alcoholic beverages at the restaurant.
The restaurant can be reached by car, and we will run a shuttle van from the hotels as well (you can sign up for the shuttle when you pick up your information packet on arrival).
To drive to La Posta, take University Ave. westward from NMSU (away from the Organ Mountains). You will pass underneath I-10 and over the railroad tracks, and University Ave. will curve to the left and narrow into a small country road. Turn right after roughly a mile, at the street light onto Avenida de Mesilla. Keep an eye on the left side of the street for a sign for the La Posta parking lot, which will come up shortly (before Caille de Santiago). Park in the lot, and walk in the direction away from Avenida de Mesilla to find La Posta and the Old Plaza.
Thursday - Tour APO and White Sands
Participants are invited to tour the Apache Point Observatory site, and along the way visit the White Sands National Monument, where great wave-like dunes of sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert and created the world's largest gypsum dune field. APO is located roughly 100 miles from Las Cruces, and so the trip will take the entire day.
If you wish to visit either location, be sure to bring a valid USA driver's license (American citizens) or a valid passport (foreigners), as you will pass through a border check-point. We will run a shuttle van from the hotels at 8:30am (sign up for the shuttle on Monday at the registration desk). The van will arrive at 11:00 at the Sunspot Astronomy and Visitor Center, and you will have an hour to tour the center and the Sacramento Peak Observatory. Lunch will be served at noon at the SPO Corona Cafe ($4), and a guided tour of APO will take place from 1:00 - 3:00. The van will stop for an hour at WSNM on the way back to Las Cruces, arriving back in town at roughly 6:00pm.
If you decide to drive yourself, be sure that you signed up for the tour online when registering (you may double check your record, or add your name to the list, at the registration desk) so that we will have enough lunch for you too!
If you drive yourself, from Las Cruces take I-25 north from the University Ave. exit to Highway 70/82, and go east all the way to Alamogordo. (You may wish to stop at Whites Sands National Park along the way, or to visit on the way down from the mountains. You will need sunglasses at WSNP!) From Alamogordo, take Highway 82 east to the town of Cloudcroft. In Cloudcroft, turn right onto Highway 130 and follow it to Highway 6563 (toward Sunspot). Turn right onto Highway 6563. After approximately 16 miles, turn left at the marked spur just before the entrance to the National Solar Observatory.