Alamogordo NM: Just stay away

Alamogordo is a small city in New Mexico. The English version of its name is:

1. a pit or hole that you should avoid even driving through without stopping if possible

2. a place where you should avoid spending any money; a place where you should try to make them spend money on you if possible

3. (archaic) fat cottonwood

I drove from coast to coast and back, spending four months driving through more than twenty states and innumerable towns. While Indianapolis wins the award for Worst Larger City, Alamogordo wins the award for Worst Smaller City.

Don't just take my word for it. A ranger at the nearby White Sands National Monument confirmed that there was something weird and unfriendly about the place. Unfortunately, that was on the way out of town, after I'd already been ripped off a couple times and had barely escaped the clutches of store security at the local Wal*Mart.

In the first case my glasses broke. I was lucky enough to find an optometrist that was open, but they managed to "upsell" me without my consent.

In the second case, I had worn my backpack into WalMart because I wasn't going to leave my notebook in the car. Even though I'd done the same thing in several of their other stores without issue, the greeter took objection to that as I was leaving. An argument resulted, and I heard her calling for security as I left through the other door.

There were probably other incidents, and those above are certainly a bit minor. However, they're indicative of a general feeling of unwelcome and tension in the town.

On the other hand, if burning Harry Potter books - alongside those of William Shakespeare - is your thing, please move there.

I first drove into the pit along the scenic US82. It would have been a bit more scenic if I'd driven it earlier in the day. As it was, I drove through the areas with the highest concentration of highway-crossing deer at twilight, and by the time I got to the even more scenic parts it was dark.

I soon set to finding a place to spend the night. The former KOA campground on 24th looked like it would OK in an extreme pinch, except it was a bit more expensive than one might hope, and it was basically just an open, semi-grassy area divided into demarcated tent sites. Plus, there was no dataport, just an antiquated pay phone.


UPDATE: In the previous version of the comments, Patricia wrote in:

I just want to say... Alamogordo is not a "pit" nor are the people in my hometown unfriendly or weird. It sounds to me like you came into our town with an attitude that you were "better than the poor people who must live in this little hell-hole." The incidents you mentioned above are very minor indeed - If you did not have anything to hide at Wal-mart, why did you escape out the other door? I have lived in many other cities and states and the people in Alamogordo have always impressed me with their kindness and generosity. The book burning was years ago (2001) and it was one SMALL group of people - It is not fair to judge 75,000 people for what 15 or 20 people decide to do. You stayed at a CAMPGROUND and there was not dataport?!?! Most campgrounds I have visited don't have electricity of any kind - or pay phones.
Normally, when someone has so many problems with people... It's not us, it's you.
P.S. If you would like to give it another try (for more than two days) Let me know - I'm certain you missed a thing or two while you were whining.


United States
32° 53' 60" N, 105° 57' 36" W
May 6, 2006 – 9:43pm