Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sly and the Family Stone sang… “I want to take you higher”…

If you are over 45 years of age, you will remember that terrific song by Sly and the Family Stone… I loved it!  Today, we did it!

We decided to take a run up the San Andrea's Mountains, just to the east of us, and visit the National Solar Observatory, on Sacramento Peak, in Sunspot, New Mexico!

John, the Owner of our RV Park, told me about a back road trail, great for Jeeps, up the San Andreas Mountains, to Cloudcroft, New Mexico.   What a trip!  We loved it… check out the trees we found,  great colours…


Although the road was paved, however ruff, it had two river running over it!  Yes, over it!


This little river was about 2 feet deep!   Good thing our Jeep is “Trail Rated” and capable of doing it!


We had a blast running through the water…


We entered the Lincoln National Forest, and before you know it we found a trail to follow… the Grandview Trail…We had to climb over this “stile”, as Judy called it, from her days on the farm, to get going on the trail…


They were correct, it was a grand view…


We met a couple hunters on the trail, trying to find the elusive deer, without much luck, and had a great talk with them – a Father and Son.  We finished the trail, and headed up!  Check out the trees you meet as you climb!


We had to stop at the “Old Apple Barn” on the way up, which is a Tourist Trap!  We had a good time, and picked up some real nice fresh Fudge!



This place was full of just about everything… you name it, they had it!


The higher we climbed, the better the view got!  That is the White Sands to the left in the pic.


Just past Cloudcroft, on the way out to the Observatory, we found the U. S. Army, had some snow equipment ready to go… why???? because we are up over 9,000 feet!


Below is the entrance to the Solar Observatory… this one studies the Sun!   What a place… you could do a self guided tour, and go inside the buildings…


The Observatory is up at the 9,300 foot level and it was a bit cool for sure, but the sun was blazing today, for sure!  A good sweater worked well for you, although we did see a few traces of snow on the way up, but not much.  Below is the Visitor’s Center, with exhibits… it was good.


Judy is checking out the sun dial… it worked!


The Observatory was opened in the 50’s… this pic below is of one of the telescopes… the top part!


Below is the bottom of the scope, and I guess you climb the ladder to see… no, not really, they do it all by computer!


Below is the main telescope of the complex… you can see this scope from Alamogordo, 32 miles away!   You see 166 feet of the scope, but do not see 288 feet, buried underground!  The light goes in the top, all the way to the bottom… they look at all things Sun!


This is inside the building! 


And these below are a small portion of the computers that run the thing… go figure!



These are some smaller scopes on the property…


This scope, know as the “Grain Bin Dome”, was the very first one built on site, in 1950!  Now this is true!  The Observatory ordered it from a SEAR’S CATALOGUE, and modified it for use as a telescope dome.  It was used to view the “edge” of the sun. It was used believe it or not… until 1963.  It was converted to a night time scope in 1995, however the trees that surround the scope now limit the view of the night sky through the hole in the top of the building… aughhhh… why don’t they cut them down!


This is a “night time” scope below, used at the Apache Peak, Observatory, just to the south of the NSO.  This is a private owned premise, but you could drive through, however no entrance to the buildings. 


The view of the basin below was second to none from the top of the Observatory… WOW.  You could see all of the 275 sq. miles of the White Sands.


As we left the property, for the big decent, Judy found this guy and two of his buddies, checking in for a drink at a small pond on the Observatory Property!  What a sight!


What a day… we are staying at 4,300 feet, and climbed to 9,300 feet… the Jeep did a great job… the air at the top was thin!   You could tell, but we had a great time! 

Whew… still some energy left to watch the Leaf’s play tonight!


  1. What a great tour today. I really really enjoyed this one.

  2. what a great jeepin' day you had!!..lucky lucky lucky!!!

  3. What a view from up top! Amazing!

    Thanks for the great tour and pics of the observatory - quite the place.

  4. Great pictures felt like I was their. Sure a lot to see in New Mexico. Thought the Leafs might get a little overtime with that come back 3rd period.