Kilbourne Hole Volcanic Crater is an opportunity to witness thousands of years of history. More than an hour southwest of Las Cruces, Kilbourne Hole the Bureau of Land Management describes it as “a remnant of an ancient volcanic explosion.” The spot became a National Natural Landmark in 1975. It is 1.7 mile long and more than a mile wide. Kilbourne Hole is estimated between 24,000 and 100,000 years old. For those interested in taking the trip out to Kilbourne Hole, it is located between the Potrillo Mountains, a designated part of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument (OMDPNM), and the Rio Grande. The site is also near Hunt’s Hole, a smaller crater also inside OMDPNM.

Globally known as the volcanic maar crater the Apollo 12-17 missions trained their astronauts in, as a model for a lunar environment, the remote location is an ideal spot away from city lights, perfect for stargazing.


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This destination is unique due to the materials left behind because of the eruption. As the BLM describes it online, “crusts of the Kilbourne Hole volcanic bombs - objects blown from the volcanic vent in a near plastic state - are dull black or brown, but when broken open they often reveal a brilliant, sparkling yellow and green interior of olivine glass granules.”


  • From Interstate 25 take the Vado Exit (10 miles south of Las Cruces) and NM 227 west 3 miles to NM 28.
  • Take NM 28 south (left) 2 miles to West Afton Road (county road B008).
  • Take West Afton Road west (right) 11 miles to Douglas Munro Road (County Rd. B004) and turn south (left).
  • Drive 6.5 miles to railroad tracks.
  • Turn left and cross railroad.
  • Turn south (left) on Dona Ana CR B02* and drive for 7 miles to Dona Ana CR A011.
  • Turn west (right) and proceed 8 miles to Kilbourne Hole.
  • Kilbourne Hole is on the right, past the big tan dirt bank.
*The road is B02 for approximately 4 miles before turning into A017.

For a more scenic drive, take NM 28 south from Mesilla 15 miles.

It is important to be prepared prior to traveling to Kilbourne Hole. Pack all essentials as this is not an established area. It is vital that all visitors are cognoscente of the fact that there is little to no relief from the elements.