We had 10 days for our Annual Thanksgiving Road Trip and high aspirations to visit four national parks across the southwestern United States. That meant we didn’t have extra time to drive all the way from our home in northern California, which meant booking flights to the starting destination and home from our final destination.
Here’s how the trip worked out:
- Day 1: We flew to Tucson, Arizona.
- Days 2-3: We explored Saguaro National Park and other things to do in Tucson like Mission San Xavier, Old Tucson, and the Pima Air & Space Museum.
- Day 4: We drove all the way to Big Bend National Park and the Lajitas Golf Resort, stopping at the Aliens vs. Dinosaurs Museum in Arizona, The Recycled Roadrunner in New Mexico, and Prada Marfa in Texas.
- Days 5-6: We explored Big Bend National Park and visited the Ghost Town of Terlingua and the Marathon Target.
- Day 7: We visited Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
- Day 8: We visited Guadalupe Mountain National Park.
- Day 9: We drove out to Roswell New Mexico to visit the International UFO Museum and stopped at the Living Desert Zoo State Park on the way back to Carlsbad.
- Day 10: We drove to Midland, Texas to fly home and stopped at the Stonehenge in Odessa on the way to the airport.
Visiting Roswell was a last minute thing. We planned three days for Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains, just in case there was more we wanted to do. But both parks are really one day parks, unless you want to do some serious hiking or longer tours into the caverns. That meant we had an extra day to do some exploring and because we all were tired and worn out, Roswell was the perfect choice.
Aliens In Roswell
Roswell, New Mexico is renowned as the site of three alien crashes, including the famous alleged 1947 UFO crash. It is also home to the International UFO Museum and Research Center.
As you drove into the town of Roswell on Highway 285, there is a huge “Welcome To Roswell” art installation depicting a ranching family greeting alien space visitors. You can’t see these larger-than-life paintings and not pull off the side of the road for a fun family photo.
The free-standing murals were a gift to the city of Roswell by artist John Cerney in 2013 in honor of the Annual UFO Festival. It shows an alien family and a spaceship adorned with LED lights that are powered by a solar panel a lit 24 hours/day. The alien family is greeted by local ranching family and the Dad uses his pickup to help “jump” the spaceship, while the mom offers a home-baked pie as an alien recoils in horror.
We had fun standing in the Welcome to Roswell scene, pretending to be part of it, and grabbing some funny photos! It was the perfect way to begin our alien-filled adventure in Roswell.
About The Artist, John Cerney
John Cerney is a Salinas, California native whose artwork can best be described as ‘giant cut-out art’, ordinarily viewed from the comfort of your automobile. For the sake of a title that people can relate to, he calls himself a muralist, but Cerney found out years ago that painting on a wall was restricting to the effect he was looking for.
After earning an art degree from Cal State Long Beach in 1984, Cerney worked in Southern California as a portrait artist, rendering finely detailed pencil drawings.
He relocated to Central California for a short period of time and convinced a farmer to allow him to paint a mural on his barn for practice. This led to mural commissions from local business owners and eventually he moved back to Salinas in 1991 to concentrate on his wall paintings.
The evolution of the cut-out paintings was slow, with a hand sticking out above a fence line as a start, then trying a complete automobile in front of a wall, and finally to the feeling that the wall was unnecessary and that the cut-outs could stand on their own. The landscape behind the figures became the background.
As more of his work was being displayed alongside highways and busy streets, Cerney realized that he had to start painting the figures and scenes larger, so that they could be ‘taken in’ from a greater distance before coming upon them.
With all of his work now maintaining a “giant” status, the artist’s installations are almost exclusively found alongside the highways of California and the Midwest. Cerney’s work has been featured in numerous magazines, books, and newspapers over the years, including National Geographic, Sunset Magazine, Reader’s Digest, and the New York Times.
Know Before You Go
- The Giant Welcome To Roswell Alien Mural is located on the northbound side of US Highway 285, Roswell, New Mexico 88203 in Chaves County, just 1.0 mile north of the HWY 285/HWY 2 intersection and 6.0 miles south of downtown Roswell.
- The freestanding mural was created by California artist John Cerney and gifted to the city of Roswell in 2013 in honor of the UFO festival.
- The Roswell Visitor Center is located at 426 N Main Street, Roswell, New Mexico 88201. Here you can get information about local and state attractions, events, maps, and snap a photo with the resident aliens.