The drive from Saguaro National Park in Tucson, Arizona to Big Bend National Park and Lajitas, Texas made for one very long day in the car. I know it doesn’t make much sense to have practically driven past Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains national parks on the way, then loop back to visit those parks after Big Bend. But because we were traveling over Thanksgiving, we needed to plan to be in a national park that is open on Thanksgiving and that was only Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
Luckily, we were able to break up the nearly 12 hour drive with some fun roadside attractions like Bowlin’s The Thing Aliens vs. Dinosaurs Museum in Arizona, the Recycled Roadrunner Statue in New Mexico, and Prada Marfa in Texas.
Towering above I-10 on a hillside at the Scenic View Rest Area in Las Cruces, New Mexico is a 20 foot tall, 40 foot wide Recycled Roadrunner Statue made from discarded materials.
I wanted to check out the famed statue and we all were ready for lunch, so we pulled into the rest area for lunch and expected to find you’re average, no frills roadside rest stop. But that’s not what we discovered at all! First, we found a sign stating that this is an “award-winning picnic area” and we were thinking, “What?!” Then we walked around and realized why&hellp;
The Scenic View Rest Area along eastbound I-10 is one of the nicest rest areas we’ve stopped at on our road trips.
Spread out along the edge of the hilltop, are covered stone picnic shelters with grills that have amazing views of Las Cruces and the Organ Mountains. It’s a beautiful setting and the walled shelters are spaced out enough that you almost feel like you have the place all to yourself — it was the perfect place to enjoy a picnic lunch.
After lunch, we walked over to check out the Recycled Roadrunner Statue up close.
The Recycled Roadrunner State
The Roadrunner, designed by artists Olin Calk and Dan Smith, was created in 1993 as part of a recycling education program for the Las Cruces Foothills Landfill. The large-scale artwork was meant to draw attention to the landfill and the issues regarding consumption, the potential reuse of some materials, and the recycling of mass consumed packaging residuals.
The giant Roadrunner has become an icon of Las Cruces and in 2001, it was moved to the Scenic View Rest Area. Unfortunately, over the years the harsh desert climate negatively affected the materials of the sculpture, which were never designed to be permanent, and vandalism by visitors who wanted to put their own spin on the artwork took its toll.
In 2012, the Roadrunner Statue was dismantled and moved to Olin Calk’s farm so it could be refurbished. The renovations were completed in 2014 and the statue was returned to its place at the Interstate 10 Scenic View Rest Stop, this time placed atop a giant base designed to look like a big rock.
The current version of the Roadrunner Sculpture uses multimedia recycled elements like Volkswagen headlights, used sneakers, golf clubs, a trophy, old plastic toys, metal from the City of Las Cruces’ recycling center, and things gathered from local thrift stores.
Know Before You Go
- The Recycled Roadrunner Statue is located at the Scenic View Rest Area along eastbound I-10, Mile Marker 134, Las Cruces, New Mexico 88001. If you’re headed westbound on I-10, you will need to turn around to access it.
- Access and use is free.
- The Rest Area has clean flush restrooms and several semi-private picnic shelters with grills spaced out along the hill top.
- RV spots are available and you can camp here overnight for free. The maximum stay is 24 hours.
- From the Rest Area, you can enjoy far-reaching, spectacular views of Las Cruces and the Organ Mountains.