Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks

Near Las Cruces, New Mexico, we are working to protect dramatic landscapes, historical and archaeological sites, colorful plants and a variety of wildlife from sprawling development, mining, energy infrastructure and irresponsible off-highway vehicle use.

Riding a wave of local support, the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks was named a national monument by President Barack Obama in 2014. The Wilderness Society was pleased to see a crown jewel of southern New Mexico gain national monument status. However,  more work is needed: management of the area as a monument could still potentially allow development and other threats in some places. We must ensure this treasured landscape isn’t overrun.

The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region, which encompasses the Organ, Sierra de las Uvas, Doña Ana and Potrillo mountain complexes, contains stunning biodiversity and traces of civilizations hundreds (and in some cases thousands) of years old. This area is also a treasure for outdoor recreationists, containing wildlands perfect for hiking, camping, hunting, wildlife-watching and much more. 

Work we are doing

Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. Credit: Bob Wick (BLM), flickr.

Despite the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks national monument designation, this area in Doña Ana County—its landscape, wildlife, cultural landmarks and pockets of solitude—remains vulnerable to development, irresponsible off-highway vehicle use, mining, energy infrastructure and other threats.

The Wilderness Society is working with a diverse group of people on the ground to help protect parts of the beloved Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region as federally-designated wilderness.

The pristine and rugged qualities of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks provide opportunities for soul-filling solitude and outdoor recreation including hunting, horseback riding, hiking, birding and camping. Protecting portions of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks as wilderness will preserve natural treasures and help secure jobs and economic development in southern New Mexico.

Wildlands designation

We are working along with partners in New Mexico to permanently protect stretches of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks at the highest level. 

Protecting land through wilderness designation

The Wilderness Society is working to protect almost 250,000 acres of land as new wilderness within the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.

West Potrillo Mountains Wilderness would protect a series of 48 volcanic cinder cones as well as lava fields, small sand dunes and playas. Wildlife in the area includes raptors in the winter, drawn by abundant prey.

Mount Riley Wilderness, to the east, would protect three volcanic cinder cones, each approximately 1,500 feet tall, as well as a stretch of desert grasses and shrubs about 30 miles from Las Cruces.

Hikers who reach the summits of the volcanic cones here are treated to spectacular views of the surrounding land.

Mount Riley Wilderness Study Area. Credit: BLM, flickr.

Robledo Mountains Wilderness would protect a stretch of land that has been preserved as a potential wilderness since 1984. Robledo Mountain, the highest point in the namesake range, is a steep, rocky favorite for hiking and scrambling.

Las Uvas Mountains Wilderness would protect a volcanic mountain complex and land dominated by buttes, canyons and mesas, the latter of which provide important nesting habitat for birds of prey.

Organ Mountains Wilderness, named after the dramatic pipe organ-like peaks for which the area is famous, features diverse plant life (including ponderosa pine at higher elevations) and habitat for mule deer, mountain lion and a variety of birds.

Aden Lava Flow Wilderness would encompass an area that is popular among hikers thanks to its namesake feature the remnant of lava that once issued from Aden Crater Volcano. The wilderness’ unique geological features offer shelter for bats, rock pocket mice and black-tailed rattlesnake

Aden Lava Flow Wilderness Study Area. Credit: BLM, flickr.

Organ Needles Wilderness would protect an area immediately adjacent to the Organ Mountains Complex that features jagged, rocky pinnacles of its own and great archaeological resources. Seasonal or year-long springs in some areas help provide habitat for a variety of plants and animals.

Peña Blanca Wilderness, on the eastern edge of Las Cruces, contains ancient rock shelters thought to have been the site of some of the earliest examples of agriculture.

Our partners

The Wilderness Society works with a diverse coalition of people on the ground in New Mexico, including business leaders, Hispanic groups, local governments, sportsmen and conservationists to make sure that Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks is protected for future generations:

Experience Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks

Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. Credit: Bob Wick (BLM), flickr.

New Mexico's Organ Mountains are named for the granite “needles” in the highest part of the range, which resemble pipes from a pipe organ.