Dripping Springs Trail – Organ Mountains, NM

The Organ Mountains (see above header pic for wide view), are in Southern New Mexico and supposedly named after the musical instrument, although I personally can’t see the resemblance.  Ranging from 5600-8990ft above sea level, the mountains are full of trails for travelers of all ages and skill levels.  Today I tried out one such trail, Dripping Springs.

The trail itself isn’t too hard, just a little over 3 miles, but the elevation is high (~6000ft) and there is practically no shade (I, not surprisingly, got sunburned in less than an hour).  The Dripping Springs Trail is very popular, though, for two reasons: 1) there are some absolutely spectacular, up-close-and-personal views of the Organ Mountain “spires” and 2) the trail also takes you past the Boyd Sanatorium and the Van Patten Mountain Camp.

 “Oh, I wasn’t quite as sick as I made out.” -Val Kilmer as Doc Holiday in Tombstone

The Boyd Sanatorium is a now-closed hospital of sorts for tuberculosis patients during the 1800s.  Think the movie Tombstone at the end when Doc Holiday is dying from TB and Wyatt Earp goes to visit him one more time, except more rustic in this case.  The Boyd Sanatorium is located right up next to the Organ Mountains.  There are serveral structures remaining, although all are condemned and un-enterable, and they all remind me of cabins I used to stay at during Girl Scout camp.  Just from looking at the outsides, you’d think they were someone’s personal cabins rather than a treatment facility.

The Van Patten Mountain Camp is a former resort in the Organ Mountains that operated until 1917.  Apparently it was quite the well-to-do for the time, with 16 rooms and a concert hall.  One of the most famous guests was the outlaw Pancho Villa, but nowadays the camp are just ruins, having been scavaged for materials decades ago.  However, the livery were the horses and stablehands styed are still relatively intact.

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